An examination by The Washington Post of Cruz’s actions between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, shows just how deeply he was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power. As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.
Now, Cruz’s efforts are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in particular whether Cruz was in contact with Trump lawyer John Eastman, a conservative attorney who has been his friend for decades and who wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Biden’s victory.
As Eastman outlined a scenario in which Vice President Mike Pence could deny certifying Biden’s election, Cruz crafted a complementary plan in the Senate. He proposed objecting to the results in six swing states and delaying accepting the electoral college results on Jan. 6 in favor of a 10-day “audit” — thus potentially enabling GOP state legislatures to overturn the result. Ten other senators backed his proposal, which Cruz continued to advocate on the day rioters attacked the Capitol.
The committee’s interest in Cruz is notable as investigators zero in on how closely Trump’s allies coordinated with members of Congress in the attempt to block or delay certifying Biden’s victory. If Cruz’s plan worked, it could have created enough chaos for Trump to remain in power.
“It was a very dangerous proposal, and, you know, could very easily have put us into territory where we got to the inauguration and there was not a president,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a Jan. 6 committee member, said earlier this year on the podcast “Honestly.” “And I think that Senator Cruz knew exactly what he was doing. I think that Senator Cruz is somebody who knows what the Constitution calls for, knows what his duties and obligations are, and was willing, frankly, to set that aside.”
The Jan. 6 committee’s investigators have recently focused on Eastman’s efforts to pressure Pence to declare Trump the winner, but there has been little public notice that Cruz and Eastman have known each other since they clerked together 27 years ago for then-U.S. Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig. Cruz’s proposal ran on a parallel track to Eastman’s memos.
Luttig told The Post that he believes that Cruz — who once said that Luttig was “like a father to me” — played a paramount role in the events leading to Jan. 6.
“Once Ted Cruz promised to object, January 6 was all but foreordained, because Cruz was the most influential figure in the Congress willing to force a vote on Trump’s claim that the election was stolen,” Luttig said in a statement to The Post. “He was also the most knowledgeable of the intricacies of both the Electoral Count Act and the Constitution, and the ways to exploit the two.”
A federal judge said Monday that former President Donald Trump and right-wing attorney John Eastman may have been planning a crime as they sought to disrupt the January 6 congressional certification of the presidential election.
"Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021," Judge David Carter wrote Monday.
Carter, a federal judge in California, ordered Eastman to turn over 101 emails from around January 6, 2021, that he has tried to keep secret from the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack.
Carter's reasoning is a startling acknowledgment by a federal court that Trump's interest in overturning the election could be considered criminal.
Trump has not been charged with any crime nor has Eastman.
"The illegality of the plan was obvious," Carter writes. "Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election ... Every American -- and certainly the President of the United States -- knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed."