Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, landed himself in hot water on Wednesday when he used the word “terrorism” to describe the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill rioters.
Fox’s Tucker Carlson took issue. Carlson wanted to reserve the word “terrorism” for foreign adversaries.
The two of them discussed the issue on TV… and left Cruz “groveling,” critics claimed.
Earlier, Cruz said on the Senate floor, “We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week, and it is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol, where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.”
Carlson accused Cruz of playing the Democrats’ language games.
“There are a lot of dumb people in the Congress. You’re not one of them,” Carlson said during his broadcast on Thursday, slamming Cruz. “You’re smarter than I am, and you never use words carelessly. And yet you called this a terror attack, when by no definition was it a terror attack. That’s a lie. You told that lie on purpose, and I’m wondering why you did.”
Cruz immediately backtracked.
“Well, Tucker, thank you for having me on!… The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy, and it was frankly dumb–”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! I don’t buy that,” Carlson interrupted. “You take words as seriously as any man who’s ever served in the Senate. And every word — You repeated that phrase. I do not believe that you used that accidentally. I just don’t.”
So, Tucker, as a result of my sloppy phrasing, it’s caused a lot of people to misunderstand what I meant. Let me tell you what I meant to say. What I was referring to are the limited number of people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers. Now, I think you and I both agree that, if you assault a police officer, you should go to jail. That’s who I was talking about, and the reason the phrasing was sloppy is, I have talked dozens, if not hundreds, of times — I’ve drawn a distinction. I wasn’t saying that the thousands of peaceful protesters supporting Donald Trump are somehow terrorists. I wasn’t saying the millions of patriots across the country supporting President Trump are terrorists. A lot people have misunderstood that comment —
Wait a second. But even — hold on. What you just said doesn’t make sense. “So, if somebody assaults a cop, he should be charged and go to jail.” I couldn’t agree more. I’ve said that for years, but that person’s still not a terrorist.
How many people have been charged with terrorism on Jan. 6? Why’d you use that word? You’re playing into the other sides’ characterization that… allows them to define an entire population as foreign combatants. And you know that. So why did you do that?
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The FBI distinguishes between domestic, ideologically, terrorism and international, state-sponsored terrorism, according to the agency’s website.
Tucker, let me answer you directly. The reason I used that word — For a decade, I have referred to people who violently assault police officers as terrorists. I’ve done so over and over and over again. If you look at all the assaults we’ve seen across the country, I’ve called that terrorism over and over again.
That being said, Tucker, I agree with you. It was a mistake to say that yesterday, and the reason is what you just said, which is — We’ve 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’re a terrorist, I’m a terrorist.
And so, look. I don’t like people who assault cops, and I stand up and defend cops… The reason I used that word is — That’s the word I’ve always used for people who violently attacked cops, but in this context I get why people are angry.
Carlson hit back:
I guess I just don’t believe you. And I mean that with respect, because I have such respect for your acuity and your precision. And I’ve seen it on display. I’ve covered you as a reporter.
I know how you speak, and you have sat there for a year and watched people use language to distort the events of that day intentionally. “Insurrection!” “Coup!” “Terrorism!”
There remains a debate over whether to call it a riot or an insurrection.
Cruz said on air, “Saying it’s an insurrection is a political term. It’s a lie. I’ve repeatedly denounced it, and when it comes to — I was focused on what I normally say… What I normally say is violence is wrong; peaceful protest is right. If you engage in violence, you should be prosecuted. If you’re speaking, you have a right to speak.”
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Cruz followed up, “You and I both agree. If you commit violence against cops, you should go to jail.”
“But you’re not a terrorist [for assaulting a police officer],” Carlson said, forcing Cruz on the defensive.
“You’re not. You’re a guy who assaults a cop. There’s a legal difference, as you well know — better than I do, since you were actually in the running for the Supreme Court.”
Former President Donald Trump had named Cruz as a possible Supreme Court nominee at a 2020 press conference, but Cruz declined.
“There’s a moral difference,” Carlson continued. “Big time.”
The reason I used that word is — For a decade, I’ve used that word for people that violently assault cops. I used that word all in 2020 for the Antifa and BLM terrorists that assaulted cops and firebombed police cars, but I agree. It was a mistake to use the word yesterday, because the Democrats and the corporate media have so politicized it. They’re trying to paint everyone as a terrorist, and it’s a lie… They want to paint us as Nazis.
“I know,” Carlson concluded. “It’s scary.”
#Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization led by hateful, intolerant radicals. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on The Constitution, I’ll convene a hearing on how to hold Antifa responsible for the violence & destruction we’ve seen throughout our communities. pic.twitter.com/bxv3vj0iCm
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) June 3, 2020
The Horn editorial team