Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday struggled to fend off criticism from Fox News host Tucker Carlson after calling the deadly January 6 Capitol riot a “terrorist attack,” Politico reports.
Cruz, who led the Republican objections to the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory before and after Trump supporters attacked Capitol Police officers and hunted lawmakers through the halls of Congress, reiterated his statement from last year that he views the Capitol riot as “a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol" during a Senate hearing earlier this week.
Carlson laid into Cruz on his show Wednesday over the remark.
"Of all the things that Jan. 6 was, it was definitely not a violent terrorist attack," Carlson argued. "It wasn't an insurrection. Was it a riot? Sure. It was not a violent terrorist attack — sorry!"
Other Trump-aligned conservatives also bashed Cruz over the comment, even though he has made similar remarks multiple times since the siege.
Cruz went on Carlson’s show Thursday to walk back his comments despite making them repeatedly over the last year.
“You told that lie on purpose, and I’m wondering why you did,” Carlson pressed.
“What I was referring to are the limited number of people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers. I think you and I both agree that if you assault a police officer, you should go to jail," Cruz said. "I wasn't saying the thousands of peaceful protesters supporting Donald Trump are somehow terrorists. I wasn’t saying the millions of patriots across the country supporting Trump are terrorists.”
Cruz argued that he has repeatedly called attacks on police “terrorist” acts.
“That being said, Tucker, I agree with you,” Cruz said. “It was a mistake to say that yesterday, and the reason is what you just said, which is we have now had a year of Democrats and the media twisting words and trying to say that all of us are terrorists. Trying to say you are a terrorist, I am a terrorist.”
Knives out for Cruz:
Carlson is far from the only Trump supporter to turn on Cruz over the comment.
"I hope Texas tells him, and that man will never, ever be re-elected,” said former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka.
"Congratulations to Senator Ted Cruz,” wrote longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. “You will never be the Republican nominee for president, and, in fact, you're enjoying your last term in the US Senate."
"The establishment will never love you, Ted,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz. “You know, you can bend over and bend a knee for them, but they're just not going to love you."