Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on Face the Nation where he predictably spread lies and disinformation about the 2020 election and absurdly claimed that voter fraud has been a problem ever since the very first election.
The election conversation began when CBS host Margaret Brennan asked Cruz to confirm what Bob Woodward and Robert Costa reported in their book, Peril: that he and Trump spoke on Jan. 6 and that Cruz, who specialized in constitutional law, knew that “there was no congressional authority to overturn the election.” In the book, the authors wrote that Cruz was aware that Congress could not reverse the election results.
“Didn’t indulging the doubters damage our democracy and our standing in the world?” she asked.
Cruz skirted Brennan’s question about knowing Congress didn’t have the power to overturn the election by saying he has not read the book, and he denied having any conversation with Trump on the day of the insurrection. “I didn’t happen to have any conversations with President Trump on Jan. 6,” Cruz said. “I had many conversations with him in days and weeks and months leading up to Jan. 6. I talked to the president sometimes as often as once a week or once a day.”
The senator then launched into what scholars have said is a historically flawed argument. “What I did, I brought together a group of 11 senators, and we objected to call for a Foreign Electoral Commission to review the claims of voter fraud and to assess and make a determination to consider the evidence. And there’s a strong historical precedent for that. You look at 1876 and the election of 1876, there was a contested election. There were serious allegations of election fraud, and what Congress did in 1876 is it appointed an electoral commission.”
“You know that what you’re laying out is an intellectualized argument here is not what people gathered and chanting things like ‘[hang] Mike Pence’ were talking about,” Brennan responded.
It’s also a poor historical comparison, according to history professors Rachel Shelden and Erik B. Alexander, who wrote a Washington Post op-ed countering Cruz’s argument in January. “Congress created that commission after the election of 1876, when several states submitted multiple election returns; this year, however, there are no states in which the electoral vote is legitimately in dispute,” the historians wrote.
The senator then launched into a stream of election disinformation. “We right now have a substantial chunk of our country that has real doubts about the integrity of the election,” he said. “And if we had had a credible electoral commission do an emergency audit, it would have enhanced faith in democracy. But instead, Democrats and a lot of the press decided to just engage in incendiary rhetoric rather than acknowledge voter fraud is real. It is a problem and one of the allegations of voter fraud needed to be examined on the merits.”
Of course, Cruz conveniently ignored that the main reason “a substantial chunk of our country… has real doubts about the integrity of the election” is because he, Trump and other Republicans have been telling them lies, without any evidence, to make Americans believe exactly that! Even Trump’s own Justice Department acknowledged there was no widespread election fraud in 2020.
“There is no evidence of fraud that would have really drawn the outcome of the election into doubt. You know that,” Brennan pushed back, but Cruz was undeterred.
“Voter fraud has been persistent from the very first election that has ever occurred,” he said, seemingly suggesting every election should be called into question, perhaps even the elections that put himself in office.
Brennan did not bother to correct him. But according to Paul Gronke, a political science professor who directs Reed College’s Elections & Voting Information Center, voting fraud is “extremely rare,” he told CNN. Regardless of the facts, though, Republicans will continue to push this narrative, as it benefits their party by helping them pass extremely restrictive voting laws. So far this year, 19 states have enacted 33 laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.