Ted Cruz has accused Democrats of ‘facilitating’ riots and violence in US cities after a senator furiously walked out of a committee hearing when he laid into the party for not criticizing Antifa.
‘Sometimes I don’t think you listen,’ Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, snapped at Cruz as she walked out of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Antifa.
Hirono lost her temper after Cruz, R-Texas, laid into her party for not condemning the ‘anti-fascist’ group, which Republicans claim have fomented riots after George Floyd’s death.
After a ten-minute broadside from Cruz, Hirono fired back: ‘How many times have I had to say that we all should be denouncing violent extremists of every stripe.’
Cruz, who was chairing the committee, retorted: ‘Does that include Antifa?’
Hirono replied: ‘I hope this is the end of this hearing, Mr. Chairman, and that we don’t have to listen to any more of your rhetorical speeches. Thank you very much. I’m leaving.’
As she packed up her files, Cruz continued to lambaste the Hawaiian senator for declining to specifically denounce Antifa.
‘Well I appreciate the, as always, kind of uplifting words of Senator Hirono,’ Cruz said. ‘And I would also note that throughout her remarks she still did not say a negative word about Antifa nor has any Democrat here.’
Cruz later appeared on Fox News to tell Hannity that the Democrats had made a ‘cynical decision’ not to denounce Antifa, claiming they wanted to encourage radical leftism.
‘What’s happening, unfortunately, is not free speech,’ Cruz told Sean Hannity, ‘and those who are peaceably protesting are seeing their protests hijacked by violent anarchists, by Marxists who are engaged in acts of terror.
‘At the end of the day, none of this is complicated,’ he said. ‘Don’t assault your fellow citizens. Don’t firebomb a police car. Don’t loot and destroy small businesses. Don’t murder police officers.’
The hearing, titled ‘The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence,’ had been a partisan face-off.
Cruz played video of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi protests to contrast their peaceful protests with the actions of the mob throughout US cities over the last few months.
Hirono meanwhile displayed her own footage of what she claimed was police brutality and disproportionate force used against peaceful demonstrators.
She also disagreed with the title for the hearing, saying it should instead be called: ‘The right of the people peaceably to assemble without being beaten up by unidentifiable federal agents.’
Cruz told Hannity: ‘Seven Democrats spoke and … questioned the witnesses. Not a single one dared to … criticize Antifa in any way, because they’re making a cynical decision that they want to encourage these radical leftists who are assaulting and threatening American citizens.’
Jonathan Turley, a lawyer who gave evidence at the hearing, opened his remarks by saying that the protests in the wake of Floyd’s death had ‘focused the nation on the transcendent issues of racial discrimination and police misconduct.’
But he said, this important national dialogue ‘is increasingly turning into a diatribe on our campuses, on our streets, and in our media. We are losing this opportunity to reach a consensus because of rising violence and intolerance for opposing views.’
After the hearing, the law professor tweeted: ‘The hearing ended with Sen. Hirono walking out after confrontation with Sen. Cruz over Antifa. In roughly 50 hearings, this was a first for me. I was not sure if I should turn off the lights when I left.
‘This actually could be the pilot for Survivor: Capitol Hill where senators vote themselves off the island. The good thing is that it meant I could make it home for the Cubs game.’