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U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz continued to take aim at U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, calling him “the most partisan and politicized attorney general our nation has ever seen.”
These remarks came on the first day of CPAC, where Cruz is one of three Texans lined up to speak at the three-day convention. He talked about the rift with the attorney general on a live recording of his podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz,” that included U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and conservative radio host Ben Ferguson.
It also followed a heated exchange in a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday, in which Cruz got into a shouting match with Garland accusing him of politicizing the Department of Justice.
“What is happening at the Department of Justice is heartbreaking because it has turned into the political weapon for the Democrats to attack their enemies and protect their friends,” Cruz said before the CPAC crowd, which gave loud applause when the video of the exchange was aired.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Cruz hounded Garland about his response to protesters who stood outside Supreme Court justices’ homes after the leaked decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which conservative justices sided with overturning Roe v. Wade.
Cruz said the DOJ under President Joe Biden was “perfectly happy to refuse to enforce the law and allow threats of violence” and further probed Garland about whether the DOJ had prosecuted any of the protesters for violating a federal statute that disallows anyone from standing outside of a justice’s home in an attempt to influence them.
Garland said he “vigorously” disagreed with the accusations made by Cruz and defended himself by saying that he sent more than 70 U.S. Marshals to help protect the judges and that it was up to the marshals to make an initial arrest of any of the protesters.
Cruz and Vance, who spoke in front of the crowd for more than 30 minutes, also took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after the U.S. Department of Energy revised its position that COVID-19 may have emerged from a laboratory leak.
When Ferguson asked whether Fauci should be held accountable for “lying to the American people” about COVID-19, Cruz said Fauci “has done more damage than any bureaucrat in the history of our nation” and that he wants the House of Representatives to use their Republican majority to hold Fauci and others accountable.
“There has been no person who has done more to destroy trust in the scientific and medical community than Dr. Anthony Fauci,” Cruz said.
Cruz also took aim at the Biden administration for its response to the train that derailed Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, which spilled out toxic chemicals, saying Biden has been largely absent from responding to the crisis. Cruz then nodded to former President Donald Trump for visiting the town in the aftermath of the wreck.
“J.D. alongside Donald Trump came there and guilted the administration, and that was powerful as hell,” Cruz said, greeted with applause from the crowd at the mention of the former president. Some have said that the Trump administration’s rollbacks of more than 100 environmental protections, including those that weakened protections for the rail industry, could have played a part in contributing to the crisis.
The conversation ended with Ferguson posing a question to the two lawmakers about what Republicans should do throughout the next two years to become more united, to which Cruz said he supports “the strongest conservative who can win.”
Cruz did not mention his plans for reelection in the panel, but has said in the past he will be running for a third senate term in 2024. He has not ruled out plans to run for president, but did not touch on the subject during his appearance at the conservative convention.