AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an interview Thursday on Fox News, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walked back a statement he made Wednesday after he referred to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as a “violent terrorist attack.”
Cruz told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that people misunderstood and misrepresented what he said.
“The snippet from (Wednesday) didn’t include my passionate & repeated defense of the patriots and peaceful protestors supporting President Trump,” he posted on his Twitter account with a video of the interview. “I’m sorry that 20-second clip led so many to misunderstand what I was saying.”
Cruz said he “made a mistake” calling it a terrorist attack, and was only refering to the people who assaulted police officers during the melee. He said he supports all the people who were “peacefully protesting.”
“Yesterday, I used a dumb choice of words and unfortunately a lot of people are misunderstanding what I meant,” he said. “I was only talking about the limited number of people who committed violent assaults on police officers. For over a decade, I’ve referred to those who violently attack police officers as terrorists. If you assault a cop you should go to jail.”
Carlson took Cruz to task over the word choice from the beginning of the interview and all throughout the narly seven minutes of discussion.
“You never use words carelessly,” Carlson began, “and yet, you called this a terror attack when by no definition was it a terror attack. That’s a lie. You told that lie on purpose, and I’m wondering why you did.”
Cruz responded, “The way I phrased things (Wednesday), it was sloppy, and frankly it was dumb.” Cruz tried to continue, but Carlson interjected, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I don’t buy that!”
The interview continued with an intense tone, with Carlson frequently interrupting Cruz, but Carlson held his tongue long enough to let Cruz say he was talking about people who assaulted police officers.
It’s not the first time Cruz refered to the riots as terrorist attacks. Shortly after it happened, Cruz released a statement on Jan. 7, a day after the riots, that read in part, “The attack at the Capitol was a despicable act of terrorism and a shocking assault on our democratic system.”
He refered to them as terrorism on two other occasions in official statements on Feb. 13 and May 28.
Through his Twitter account, Cruz continued to back off his comment.
“I was NOT calling the thousands of peaceful protestors on Jan 6 terrorists,” he said. “I would never do so; I have repeatedly, explicitly said the OPPOSITE — denouncing the Democrats’ shameful efforts to do so & to try to paint every Trump voter in America as ‘terrorists’ and ‘insurrectionists.'”