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The Rocky History Between Ted Cruz and John Boehner

The salty comments from the former House Speaker John Boehner about Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, once again puts these two men at odds in a career-changing moment.

The Texas senator was effectively a "player coach" in the move to oust Boehner from the speakership last year.

On Capitol Hill, Cruz frequently met with a core group of very conservative House members and help strategize their challenges to Boehner's leadership. With Cruz's national profile, adoring talk radio support and unyielding ways, he gave the sect of conservatives motivation and backup.

Cruz Fires Back at Boehner Over 'Lucifer' Comment 1:05

Through the government shutdown in 2013, various down-to-the-wire budget battles and ultimately a more direct procedural threat to the speakership, Cruz was a significant influence among House members in the dissent that made the former speaker choose to step aside in 2015. Boehner's choice was his own, but Cruz's sway with conservatives helped make Boehner's path impossible.

Cruz personally told NBC News he had not met Boehner. And when addressing Boehner's comments at a press conference Thursday, Cruz said he has never directly worked with the Ohio Republican.

"If I had said 50 words to John Boehner in my life, I would be surprised," Cruz said.

However, the two men have a past.

The former speaker had actually used Cruz's considerable legal talents in a rare court fight among lawmakers.

In fact, Ted Cruz was once John Boehner's lawyer.

New audio of Boehner's Lucifer comment 0:33

In 1998, Boehner filed a lawsuit and years later was awarded more than one million dollars in legal fees after suing Washington state Democrat Jim McDermott.

The case involved an illegal interception of a Boehner phone call that was embarrassing where he discussed House leadership business. The illegal recording was picked up by active Florida Democrats on a police scanner frequency. A tape was given to the Washington Democrat and was subsequently leaked to the media. McDermott did not make the recording and argued he was asserting his first amendment rights. Boehner claimed his personal privacy was violated.

Boehner ultimately won the case, which dragged on until 2004. For part of that time, Ted Cruz represented Boehner.

Sources close to Boehner say he and Cruz had met during the lawsuit but likely never had contact after Cruz arrived on Capitol Hill in 2013.

For Boehner, who had been a Jeb Bush supporter, Cruz is the man who once successfully defended him but later led the political charge against him.

Both Boehner and Cruz had spoken in civil tones about each other publicly, but now liberated from politics, the former speaker invoked his more colorful side to describe the presidential candidate on Wednesday when he called him "Lucifer in the flesh."