U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” that President Donald Trump should produce evidence that President Barack Obama wiretapped or otherwise surveilled Trump Tower toward the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, but that the charge is “not necessarily as outlandish,” as depicted in the media.
In the interview with “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson, Cruz also said he had been at Mar-a-Lago Saturday negotiating with members of the president’s team about potential changes in the House bill to repeal Obamacare, which Cruz said cannot and should not pass the Senate as currently written, and, if it were passed, would be a political and policy disaster.
“If Republicans hold a big press conference and pat ourselves on the back that we’ve repealed Obamacare and everyone’s premiums keep going up, people will be ready to tar and feather us in the streets and quite rightly,” Cruz said.
Cruz also predicted that Judge Neil Gorsuch would be confirmed for the Supreme Court with 60 votes or, if Democrats attempt a filibuster, with a simple majority vote.
“I will tell you, Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed,” Cruz said. “He will either get 60 votes and be confirmed or otherwise. whatever procedural steps are necessary, I believe within a month or two Neil Gorsuch will be an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee, on which both Cruz and his Texas colleague, John Cornyn, serve, begins hearings on the Gorsuch nomination on Monday even as the House Intelligence Committee holds its first hearing on Russian efforts to affect the 2016 election, with testimony from FBI Director James Comey and Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency.
Two Texans on the House Intelligence Committee — U.S. Reps. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, and Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio — were on ABC ‘s”This Week” Sunday.
Hurd told host George Stephanopoulos that he had seen no evidence to back the president’s claim about his predecessor, and that, absent such evidence, Trump ought to apologize for making an unfounded charge.
“To quote my 85-year-old father who — Bob Hurd — who has given this advice to all of my friends when they get married, it never hurts to say you’re sorry,” Hurd said.
Hurd, a former CIA agent, said apologizing, “helps with our allies.”
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re all working together. We live in a very dangerous world and we can’t do this alone. And when we have a major ally — and it’s not just sorry to the (former) president, but also to the U.K. for the claims or the intimation that the U.K. was involved in this, as well,” said Hurd, who said the unsubstantiated claims by the president, “takes away from the rest of his agenda.”
Castro said he is hoping to learn from Comey Monday, “First, whether any Americans are being investigated for cooperating or conspiring with the Russians who interfered with our election. Second, the scope of that investigation. And third, a time line for resolving it.”
While calling on the Trump administration to provide evidence for the president’s claims, Cruz said it was necessary to find out whether the Obama administration was engaged in a “fishing expedition,” to see what dirt it could dig up on the Republican candidate and his campaign.
“I don’t know what basis the president has for these allegations,” Cruz said. “He’s now president of the United States. The FBI, the CIA , they all report to him. And I think we should examine what the evidence is. I think it would be quite good if the administration put forward what evidence there is.”
“We need to find out what the facts are,” Cruz said. “We do know, or it’s at least been publicly reported, that there were two FISA (the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) applications for some form of surveillance or wire taps, one of which was turned down by the FISA court of the Obama administration, one of which was granted.”
And, Cruz said, “I would point out this is not necessarily as outlandish as everyone in the press suggests. We do know that the Obama administration targeted its political enemies. We do know that the IRS, for example, targeted citizens groups that spoke out against Obama. So the notion is not necessarily outlandish but it’s serious so it needs to be based on facts so we should see what the facts are behind this.”
“It’s not often that the FISA Court turns down an application, they usually grant those applications. That suggests the application was over broad,” Cruz said. “It’s worth looking at, was there a fishing expedition the Obama administration was trying to do.”
On repealing and replacing Obamacare, Cruz said, “the number one issue is premiums – premiums, premiums, premiums. When I’m back home in Texas, what I hear from Texans every single day is, `I cant’ afford health insurance,’ that with Obamacare, the average family’s premium have risen over $5,000.”
Cruz said that the House bill as drafted cannot pass the Senate and that the Congressional Budge Office projects that, in the first two years of the new law, as proposed, premiums would rise 10 to 20 percent, though they would go down thereafter.
Cruz said the strategy of the congressional GOP leadership to tackle repeal and replace in three stages or “buckets” — repeal fist and take measures later to reduce premiums. including repealing a variety of insurance mandates — is doomed to fail.
“That ain’t going to happen,” Cruz said of a “the three-bucket solution in which all the good stuff is in bucket three. Bucket three takes eight Democrats. Right now Senate Democrats are opposing everything. You coldn’t get eight Senate Democrats to agree on saying `good morning.’”
“I call bucket three the suckers bucket, and what I have been urging the president and the administration and leaders in both houses is to take everything in bucket 3, put in bucket one,” Cruz said. “We have to actually fix this problem.”
“We can do this now in bucket one and if we don’t, this bill doesn’t pass,” Cruz said. “If it doesn’t pass, it ‘s a substantive and political disaster for everyone.”
“We have a chance for an incredible substantive win for the American people and, I got to tell you, I am spending night and day meeting with House members, meeting with senators, meeting with the administration,” Cruz said. “Just yesterday I spent three hours at Mar -a-Lago (U.S. Sen) Mike Lee (R-Utah) and (U.S. Rep.) Mark Meadows, (R-N.C.) negotiating with the president’s team, trying to fix this bill.”
“We have had multiple conversations,” Cruz said. “The vice president and I have had multiple conversations.”
“The president has said this is one big, fat negotiation,” Cruz said. “Here’s the central prize – if we lower premiums and hopefully lower them a lot, that’s a victory for the American people, if premiums keep going up, that is a victory for insurance companies and lobbyists, but it’s a loss for the Americans who elected us.”
“The president is listening to the arguments on all sides,” Cruz said. “He wants to get to yes and I want to get to yes. But we’ve got to actually solve the problem.”