"He admits it": Ted Cruz describes "step two" of Jan. 6 plot in new leaked recording

"That's how they did it in 1877," Cruz said in a conversation with Fox host Maria Bartiromo

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published April 26, 2023 10:55AM (EDT)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 2, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 2, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, privately described a plot to create an electoral commission to assess the false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election in a newly released Jan. 2, 2021 recording of a conversation between him, former Fox News producer Abby Grossberg and Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. 

Though the tape, recorded just four days before the insurrection at the Capitol, echoes the Texas senator's public statements related to the plot to block the certification of President Joe Biden's win, it reveals the depth of his plot to support former President Donald Trump, The Washington Post reports

In the audio, Cruz, who was also the first senator to object to the Electoral College results, details his scheme to establish the commission, explaining that he gathered 11 senators to object to the electoral certification, which would prompt a 10-day audit.

"I think that the country deserves to have a credible assessment of these claims and what the evidence shows and the mechanism to try to force that is denying certification on the sixth," Cruz said in the tape, first aired by MSNBC's Ari Melber.

Bartiromo also asked Cruz who would decide which candidate would be inaugurated. Cruz said that if the commission "found credible evidence of fraud that undermines confidence in the electoral results in any given state they would report on that."

To support his plan, Cruz also cited the electoral commission created in 1876 to investigate potential voter fraud in the Hayes-Tilden election.

"You need an adjudicatory body with fact-finding and investigative authority to consider the facts to examine the record and to make determinations — that's how they did it in 1877," Cruz told Grossberg and Bartiromo.

Cruz repeated these sentiments on the Senate floor shortly before the mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, both times neglecting to mention the Compromise of 1877. The agreement allowed Republican candidate Hayes to become president and prevented another civil war but required Republicans to pull federal troops from the South, bringing an end to the Reconstruction Era and subjecting Black Americans to the deluge of white supremacist violence that followed.

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During his segment on Tuesday, Melber claimed that the senator's calls for a reassessment of the election results "was for Cruz one step in a larger coup plot."

"He admits it," Melber continued after playing the audio. "You heard the question — who decides who gets inaugurated that's what this is all about. You have a certified winner. You have the courts having passed up any potential challenge. So, at that point, it was President-elect Biden, and Cruz answers this fake, made-up commission he and his Trump buddy were planning to create to bureaucratize a coup. That's what they were trying to do. That was his answer. That's how they were trying to steal the race. The references to fraud, we know, one, he didn't believe in those we have that on tape. B. more importantly, the judges and fact-finding we have in the country didn't find there was that kind of fraud and then 3. that's all just talk anyway because they're literally trying to steal it for Trump, so all the words in the middle are just the words to get there."

Cruz tweeted his response to Melber and the tape Tuesday evening:

"This @msnbc [clown] is breathlessly reporting that I 'secretly' said in a phone call…the EXACT same thing I said on national television the next morning! And then said again on the Senate floor four days later."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Abby Grossberg Aggregate Fox News January 6 Maria Bartiromo Politics Ted Cruz