AUSTIN (KXAN) — It has been two years since the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Since the infamous date, the House Select Committee tasked with investigating the insurrection has laid out key information that former president Donald J. Trump sought to overturn the election results, with enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider a criminal indictment.
Despite this evidence, some prominent Texas lawmakers have not publicly disavowed theories surrounding the 2020 election that led to the attack. In fact, many pre-filed bills for the 2023 legislative session reflect the theories surrounding widespread voter fraud. This is despite an election audit into four of Texas’ largest counties that found no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Two years later, we reflect on how some top Texas legislators reacted to the events of January 6, and where they stand now.
Senator Ted Cruz
Leading up to Jan. 6, Senator Ted Cruz said he would object to the certification of the 2020 presidential election results and continued to pursue unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.
Following the attack, Cruz tweeted, “Yesterday’s terrorist attack was a horrific assault on our democracy. Every terrorist needs to be fully prosecuted.”
One year later, at a Senate committee hearing, Cruz reiterated that the insurrection was a “violent terrorist attack.”
He then walked back his comments, saying his use of words was “sloppy” and “dumb,” after being criticized by the Fox News host, Tucker Carlson. The following day, in an interview with Carlson on Fox News, which Cruz later posted on his Twitter, he clarified that the thousands of protestors on Jan. 6 were not terrorists. Instead, he said, he was only referring to the people who assaulted officers as the terrorists.
As late as October of last year, in an appearance on ”The View,” Cruz still would not definitively say whether he thought Joe Biden legitimately won the election in 2020.
Senator John Cornyn
Leading up to Jan. 6, Senator John Cornyn announced he would not object to the certification of the 2020 election results. At the time, Cornyn said that the allegation of voter fraud alone was not enough to convince him not to certify the election and that more evidence was needed, the Texas Tribune reported at the time.
Governor Greg Abbot
After the insurrection, Governor Greg Abbott decried the violence that day but stopped short of calling Trump to resign following the attacks.
“Violence always obviously is unacceptable,” Abbott said in a press conference on Jan. 11, 2021, “but the people responsible for that violence are the people who did it. They’re the ones who should be punished for it.”
A couple of months later, Abbott announced plans for a new bill aimed at reducing rampant voter fraud in the state.
“The fact is, voter fraud does occur,” Abbott said at the time.
Attorney General Ken Paxton
Paxton went to the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and spoke to crowds of Trump supporters before the insurrection. He consistently claimed there was electron fraud in the presidential election and propagated the conspiracy theory that the states where Dominion Voting Systems were used had inconsistent tallying.
“We will not quit fighting,” he told a crowd on the day before some went on to break into the Capitol.
Following the attack, Paxton tweeted, “I am sorely disappointed today in the certification of the election, but I don’t believe violence is the answer.”
The day after, Paxton amplified a claim on Twitter that the insurrectionists were not actually Trump supporters but Antifa agents.
Late in 2022, the Texas Tribune reported that Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller promoted the film “2000 Mules,” a debunked film by Dinesh D’Souza that falsely claims there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.