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Sen. Cruz Joins AEI’s “What the Hell Is Going On” Podcast

June 5, 2020

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HOUSTON, Texas - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined the American Enterprise Institute's ‘What the Hell is Going On' podcast with hosts Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen for a wide-ranging discussion on George Floyd's tragic death, the violent riots breaking out across the country, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party's responsibility for endangering millions of lives, and the catastrophic Obama-Iran nuclear deal.

On the death of George Floyd and police brutality:

"What the police officer did there was completely wrong. It was police brutality. It was grotesque. He kept his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for eight full minutes while Mr. Floyd was handcuffed, while he was incapacitated. And I think it is the right thing that the U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation. I think it's the right thing that the prosecutors have brought a homicide case based on the evidence. There's no legitimate law enforcement purpose for what happened to George Floyd. And I think people all across the country rightly and understandably exercised their First Amendment rights to speak out against racial injustice, to speak out against police brutality."

On the riots erupting throughout the country:

"I think violent criminals cynically decided to exploit and take advantage of those protests, and began engaging in looting, began engaging in violence, began engaging in assaulting police officers, and burning police cars, and murdering police officers, and burning our cities. And it is horrific. It's something our country has not seen on this scale in my lifetime. And I think we need to stop it now.

"I think it's incumbent on the president, the attorney general, governors, mayors, police chiefs, to stop the violence and keep people safe. And we need to use every law enforcement tool we have to prevent these criminals from jeopardizing peoples' lives."

"Unfortunately, you've got too many elected politicians who are playing politics with this, who have decided it is beneficial to them politically not to stop these riots. And you've also got organized groups like Antifa that are helping fuel the violence. And for two years, I've been calling on the president to designate Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization. And thankfully, this past week, the president announced he was going to do that."

On the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the Chinese Communist Party's responsibility for endangering millions of lives:

"The Chinese Communist government bears very real and direct responsibility for the over 300,000 lives that have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Chinese Communist government lies, and it engages in propaganda, and it engages in torture, and kidnapping, and murder. [...] If you look at the coronavirus pandemic, I believe the most significant foreign policy consequence of this pandemic is going to be a fundamental reassessment of our relationship with China.

"We need to work to decouple our economy from China. In particular, to decouple the critical infrastructure, the lifesaving medicines that we need so that we're not dependent and vulnerable to the Chinese Communist government.

"I've introduced harsh sanctions on Chinese officials who engaged in censorship of coronavirus and critical health related information. We've always thought of censorship as a human rights issue. Now we see that it's a public health issue and a national security issue as well. So that is another step in terms of directly penalizing those Chinese officials who are responsible."

On the catastrophic Obama-Iran Nuclear deal:

"The Iran deal was an area that Trump and I explicitly disagreed with on the campaign trail when we were running against each other in 2016. I pledged that if I was elected on the first day in office, I would move the embassy to Jerusalem and on the first day in office I would rip the Iran deal to shreds. Trump disagreed with me on the Iran deal. He said he was not going to rip it to shreds. He was going to renegotiate instead. Fast forward to the Trump administration. I made the case vigorously and repeatedly to the president. He ended up agreeing with me and pulling out of the deal, overruling both State and Defense. I think that is the single most important foreign policy decision that has been made in the entire Trump administration."

"I think there are a lot of career folks at State. I think there are a lot of career folks at Treasury who, frankly, are supporters of the Iran deal and want to see it come back. They want to see Trump lose. They want a Democratic president, and they want to reinstate the Iran deal. And I think they're digging in and fighting at every stage.

"I am hopeful that we will exercise snapback, that we will re-impose sanctions, worldwide sanctions on Iran. State has been mightily resistant. I've been publicly calling for us to exercise snapback. I think there's a good chance the Trump administration will do it, but getting them there has taken vigorous encouragement and vigorous persuasion."

Listen to the episode here. Read the full transcript of the conversation here.

Earlier this week, Sen. Cruz delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding George Floyd, Antifa, and the riots around the country. Watch the full floor speech here.

Sen. Cruz has called for a fundamental reassessment of the U.S.-China relationship, and has introduced numerous bills to unwind the United States from China. Read more about Sen. Cruz's comprehensive push to reassess the United States' relationship with China here.

In May, Sen. Cruz applauded President Trump's decision to end civil nuclear waivers that allowed Iran to build up its nuclear program. Sen. Cruz has led the fight against the Obama-Iran Nuclear deal since it was first negotiated. Since the U.S. withdrawal, he has pushed for an end to oil waivers, an end to nuclear waivers, and for invoking the U.N. snapback mechanism to restore international sanctions on Iran.

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