Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) failed to answer whether the American people can trust President Donald Trump on Sunday morning in an interview with John Dickerson on Face The Nation. When asked directly whether the public should trust Trump, given his repeated and rebuked claim that former president Barack Obama wiretapped him prior to the 2016 election, Cruz conspicuously failed to give a direct yes or no answer.
Dickerson introduced the issue at the very top of the interview, pointing out how little support Trump’s unsupported claims have received, even from Republicans. Trump nonetheless repeated those claims on Friday, during his first face-to-face meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Intelligence officials, Republicans in the Senate and House have said this didn’t happen,” Dickerson said. “Should the president drop this?”
Cruz’s response was something of a waffle, threading the needle between not challenging Trump but not actually siding with him on any factual claims either. “Well, these are serious allegations, and I think they need to be looked into seriously,” Cruz said. “You’ve got open investigations with the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, you’ve got next week FBI director James Comey is testifying. We need to find out what the facts are.”
Cruz referenced reporting about a rejected FISA warrant application from last year, and he suggested that “the investigations will bring out” more information about Trump’s claims. As it stands now, an increasing chorus of Republicans have stated that there is no evidence whatsoever to support the president’s claims, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who concurred this week with U.S. intelligence officials that “no such wiretap existed.”
House intelligence committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) also shot down Trump’s claims in an interview on Fox News Sunday, stating that “there never was” such a wiretap. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine also contradicted the claims on NBC News’s Meet The Press, and she insisted that the president “owes us an explanation” over the unfounded accusations.
Dickerson followed up in his interview, asking Cruz whether the American people should feel able to trust their president, given his doubling and tripling-down on these incendiary, unsupported allegations. Specifically, Dickerson drew a comparison between the wiretapping claims and Trump’s conspiracy-mongering in the GOP primaries when he suggested that Cruz’s father Rafael was somehow involved in the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy.
You, in the campaign, went back and forth about the question of veracity. He had told stories about your father and JFK’s assassination. There seemed to be as much evidence for that as there is for this wiretapping claim. Can people trust this president?
Cruz didn’t answer whether Trump could be trusted, a rather startling moment coming from a member of the president’s own party. Instead, he suggested that the IRS targeting controversy under the Obama administration made the suggestion of illegal wiretaps “not necessarily as outlandish as everyone in the press suggests.”
Dickerson challenged him once more, pointing out that Trump claiming Obama personally wiretapped him (he also called him a “bad or sick guy”) was a charge of a drastically different order than alleging an action taken by a government agency. For Obama to have done what Trump suggested would have been a felony under U.S. law.
But Cruz simply reiterated that he wanted to “see the evidence.” Evidence which, as to Trump’s exact claim (that “Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower), seems not to exist. So, to recap: no answer on whether the president can be trusted, not until a full review of all the seemingly nonexistent evidence is conducted.