Republican senator Ted Cruz has been challenged live on air after arguing that the 2020 US election results could have been overturned.
CBS TV news host Margaret Brennan questioned the Republican senator on his party’s attempts to fuel questions over the authenticity of the presidential election results in the programme “Face The Nation” on Sunday.
Ms Brennan said Mr Cruz had “detailed conversations” with former president Donald Trump during the time when the 6 January riots at the Capitol building broke out, citing the book Peril written by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
“You knew there was no congressional authority to overturn the election. Didn’t indulging the doubters damage our democracy and our standing in the world?” she asked.
Mr Cruz replied saying he had not spoken with Mr Trump on 6 January.
“I didn’t happen to have any conversations with [former] President Trump on 6 January. I had many conversations with him in the days, weeks and months leading up to 6 January. I talk to the [former] president sometimes as often as once a week or once a day,” Mr Cruz replied.
“My point is simple. Under the constitution, Congress has a role, it has a responsibility when it comes to certifying votes. And what I did, I bought together a group of 11 senators and we objected to call for an electoral commission to review the claims of voter fraud and assess and make a determination to consider the evidence and there’s a strong historical precedent for that,” he said.
Mr Cruz cited the example of 1876 when “…there was a contested election. There were serious allegations of election fraud,” he told Ms Brennan.
To which Ms Brennan interjected and said: “You know what you’re laying out is an intellectualised argument here, [this] is not what people gathered and chanting things like ‘[hang] Mike Pence’ were talking about. You know that.”
The Texas senator then condemned the violence but not before he raised questions on the “integrity” of the presidential elections.
“I think the violence that happened on that day was horrific… If you commit an act of violence, if you assault a police officer, if you’re violent against anyone, you should be prosecuted and go to jail. And that’s what the law is. So I absolutely condemn acts of violence,” Mr Cruz said.
He then went on to say that he led 11 senators in a call for a “constitutional option. Because we right now have a substantial chunk of our country that has real doubts about the integrity of the election.”
“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 the allegations of voter fraud needed to be examined on the merits,” he added.
Shutting Mr Cruz down, the news host interjected again and said: “OK Senator, there is no evidence of fraud that would really have drawn the outcome of the election into doubt. You know that.”
The Republican leader continued to press on the argument that voter fraud is “persistent”, but Ms Brennan moved on to asking the senator if he was going to run for the 2024 presidential elections.
“Look, I have no idea what’s going to happen in 2024. Donald Trump is going to have to make a choice,” replied Mr Cruz.