Update (6 p.m.):
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has returned to Texas, just one day after flying to Cancun, Mexico, as the state continues to suffer from a power and water crisis on Friday.
In an interview with ABC News, Cruz said he took the trip with his two daughters and his wife, who wanted to get out of the cold weather for the weekend.
“It certainly was not my intention for that to be understood, as critics have tried to paint it, as somehow diminishing the suffering and hardship other Texans had experienced,” Cruz said.
As of Thursday, power outages in the San Antonio region have been reduced, even though a second winter storm set in all throughout the day.
Sen. Cruz acknowledged that the power outages have been improving, but said he is glad Gov. Abbott is calling for an investigation into ERCOT.
From the moment he sat on the plane, Cruz said it was then that he began to second-guess his decision.
“From the moment I sat on the plane, I really second-guessing that decision, saying ‘Look, I know why we’re doing this but I’ve also got responsibilities.’ And it has been my intention to be able to work remotely, to be on the phone, to be on internet... But I needed to be here. And that’s why I came back,” Cruz told ABC News.
“And then as it became a bigger and bigger fire storm, it became all the more compelling that I needed to come back. Our priority should be fixing this problem and making sure it doesn’t happen again. And I didn’t want all the screaming and yelling about this trip to distract even one moment from the real issues that I think Texans care about, which is keeping all of our families safe,” he added.
You can watch the full interview above.
Update (1 p.m.):
Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a statement Thursday, confirming his flight to Cancun after multiple outlets confirmed KSAT reporting about his trip.
Cruz acknowledged that this past week was an “infuriating” one for Texans.
“Our homes are freezing and our lights are out. Like millions of Texas, our family lost heat and power too.”
Cruz went on to explain that his daughters wanted to take a trip to Cancun with their friends.
“Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” Cruz said. “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”
The trip did not sit well with the Texas Democratic Party. Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said he wasn’t surprised, but disturbed by Cruz’s trip.
“Ted Cruz had already proven to be an enemy to our democracy by inciting an insurrection. Now, he is proving to be an enemy to our state by abandoning us in our greatest time of need,” Hinojosa said. “For the 21st time, the Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office.”
Update (10 a.m.):
Fox News and the Associated Press have now confirmed KSAT reporting showing Texas Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico, as the state suffered from a power and water crisis due to a devastating winter storm.
A source with direct knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press that the senator’s family trip had been planned well in advance of the weather. Cruz is now expected to return immediately, according to the source.
Jake Sherman, founder of Punchbowl News, also reported flight information that appeared to indicate Cruz was planning to head back to Texas.
Here’s the upgrade list for this afternoon’s flight from Cancun to Houston.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 18, 2021
Looks like @tedcruz is on his way back, @danpfeiffer. He’s just narrowly missing the upgrade list
That’s assuming that “cru, r” is him. And I do. pic.twitter.com/CqfKa5rJfG
Photos circulating on Twitter late Wednesday purport to show Texas Senator Ted Cruz on a flight to Cancun, Mexico, during the state‘s historic disaster.
The images show a man with a striking similarity to Cruz in an airport and on a plane. Cruz’s office didn‘t respond to a request for comment but this story will be updated if they do. Other reporters said they had reached out as well but not heard back.
Some Twitter sleuths claimed they matched a mask, glasses, a ring, tennis shoes and headphones to past social media posts. One photo appears to show Cruz’s wife - who has appeared on national television - at his side.
One sleuth cited clues from a photo that puts Cruz inside the Houston International Airport near the terminal for a United flight to Cancun at 4:10 p.m.
Re: the Ted Cruz/Cancun thing, this is the photo that unlocks the whole thing. He's in a United terminal. In the top left you can that it's 4:10 pm (or 4ish PM at least). To the left of that, you can see that he's near gate E11, with its destination being Ft. Lauderdale. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/hUuUqSNBze— Nesler (@thatnesler) February 18, 2021
Less than an hour later, UA1020 departed for Cancun and landed at 7:52 p.m., online flight records show.
Still, others thought the photos might be taken out of context or from a past trip. Indeed, there isn’t a smoking gun and Cruz hasn’t yet commented.
Those sharing the photos include a state lawmaker from Cruz‘s hometown of Houston.
“Guess which US Senator from Texas flew to Cancun while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water,” said state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston.
Guess which US Senator from Texas flew to Cancun while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water? pic.twitter.com/fNY00EmMMR— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) February 18, 2021
Keith Edwards, a Democratic operative who worked on Georgia Senator Jon Ossof’s campaign, tweeted that people who were on the flight with Cruz had confirmed to him the photos veracity in direct messages.
I now have multiple people DMing me, confirming he was on their flight to Cancun today 👀 https://t.co/B6aikULyZ6— Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) February 18, 2021
Nothing on Cruz’s most recent Twitter timeline mentions travel. He has shared resources for the storm, including information on a warming center in San Antonio and a request for residents of South Texas to donate blood if they’re able.
ATTN TX: City of San Antonio opens warming center at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) February 17, 2021
For more information on shelters in #SanAntonio, click here --> https://t.co/tSbGi2KJ4H https://t.co/nMMKXec4HA
The reports of Cruz’s alleged vacation spread quickly on social media, catapulted by Texans‘ frozen frustration. That after a failure of the state’s electric grid forced millions in the state to go days without sustained power in sub-freezing temperatures. If true, the trip would add even more insult to injury for a battered state dealing with a historic disaster.