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Defining conservatism in the Trump era with Sen. Ted Cruz: podcast and transcript

Live at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival, Chris Hayes speaks with Sen. Ted Cruz about all things conservatism.

What is conservatism in the era of Trump? During the 2016 primaries, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz argued that he alone was the true conservative candidate, consistently attacking Donald Trump as a big government liberal. So what does Cruz make of the conservatives that rejected him and went on to put Trump in the White House?

At The 2019 Texas Tribune Festival, Chris Hayes and Sen. Cruz sat down in The Paramount Theatre on the first stop of the #WITHpod fall tour to talk about all things conservatism. Chris challenged the Texas Senator on foreign policy, climate change, impeachment, and the unfolding Ukraine scandal.

Join us October 21st in Los Angeles with special guests Adam McKay and Omar El Akkad. Get your tickets here.

SEN. TED CRUZ: In the legal world, there're principles of conflict of interest, and there's also a question of an appearance of impropriety. I would have wished the president had not gone down that road, because at the very minimum there's an appearance that I would rather he not have opened the door to. I got to tell you, Donald Trump says things frequently that I wish he wouldn't say.

CHRIS HAYES: Hello and welcome to "Why Is This Happening?" with me, your host, Chris Hayes. Well, we're doing something new and different, which is exciting. It's exciting. If you are listening to this, you've probably have read who today's guest is. That's in the title of the show, and you're probably thinking, I really would like to listen to a little Ted Cruz on my commute. So you are in luck, because that is what we are delivering today. More seriously, this is the first of this fall's "Live with Pod Tour." We're doing four different dates. This is the first one where I do a live podcast, one on one conversation in front of an audience.

The next one is coming up in October, and tickets to that are available, but going very quickly. That's going to be in Los Angeles at the Ace Hotel on Monday, October 21st at 7:30 p.m. If you to go and search Chris Hayes, you can find tickets for that. I'm going to be talking to the amazing Adam McKay, who is the genius behind everything from "Anchorman" to "Vice" to "The Big Short," and incredible sci-fi author Omar El Akkad, who wrote an incredible book, "American War," about a future civil war that happens under conditions of climate change.

So that's the next one that's happening. It's going to be very different than this one, which you're about to listen to, which is a conversation with Ted Cruz. And I've seen people say to me like, "Why did you do a conversation with Ted Cruz?" And my feeling about it is, he's an interesting guy. He is a United States Senator. We don't really agree on anything. We have spoken to people across all different kinds of ideologies and political valances and backgrounds and forums of expertise. We've done freshmen Democratic members of Congress.

I don't think that With Pod is a podcast that I would turn into a weekly talk with a Republican Senator, but I also thought this'll be interesting to try to see. Basically I went into a thing like here's obviously a very smart guy who to me is a fascinating figure in these times for this reason. What conservatism is in the era of Trump is incredibly up for grabs. There was a sense in which when Ted Cruz ran against Donald Trump in that primary, Ted Cruz's argument was, "I'm the real conservative," and I thought, and many thought, that he had a better claim to it. He was much more a movement conservative. He had been a campus right-winger, and then he clerked for a conservative judge and justice. He was a Federalist Society member. He had all of the kind of bona fides, all of the check marks of "this is a conservative dude," a movement conservative dude.

And then he lost to Donald Trump. And his argument about Donald Trump was Donald Trump's not really a conservative. And conservatives were like, "Oh no, no, no. That's what we want. Build the wall, the guy that threatens violence at the rallies who says, 'Just knock the h--- out of him,' if someone starts to protest. The guy who says we should ban a billion Muslims worldwide, who the judge is judging me, who's an American, can't judge me cause he's of Mexican descent. That guy, the guy who is the bigoted, offensive, showman con artist. That's what's conservative and that's what we want. Not you, Ted Cruz." And then so Ted Cruz has had to figure out how is he a conservative in the era of Donald Trump? And so the conversation I want to have, I was like, "What exactly does conservatism look like in the era of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz?"

For instance, a big trade war that includes massively jacked up tariffs that are according to one think tank, the largest tax increase in recent memory. And then to deal with the cost of that $20 billion in direct welfare subsidies to farmers to take the sting out, all done through unilateral executive action and without the power of the purse and the Article I Congress weighing in. I guess that's conservatism in the era of Trump. Now I think that the conversation, as you'll see, had varying degrees of success of substantive engagement on this question. I think the foreign policy section is actually pretty interesting. We talked about some of the cleavages around isolationism as he puts it and interventionism which are sort of caricatures both of them.

There are other sections where I'm less successful and I think one thing that I would note here is that there's a section in here on climate change that was kind of rough. And the reason it was kind of rough is that I did not expect Ted Cruz to go full climate denial. I expected him to do what most Republican politicians these days are doing which is saying, "Yes, look the planet is clearly warming, carbon is playing a role in that." And then do a lot of three-card Monte with China and India and jobs and "well we can't really do anything." But instead he just went way super old school. The kind of thing you heard 15 years ago about the satellite data is incomplete and actually there's more Arctic ice now and there's just a bunch of stuff being thrown around, all of which is not really worth debating, the scientific consensus that the world is warming is so robust. And the product of literally, and I say this without exaggeration, trillions of points of data. Anyway, you'll hear that section.

But I guess what I would just say about that section is he does not think the world is warming — that's basically the takeaway there. Which to me is an another interesting moment to think about what conservatism is. But it's also interesting to hear him disavow the Iraq War, which he says he didn't support. It's interesting to hear him talk about Trump's diplomacy. And at the very end, we get to talk about the Ukraine scandal and what that means. And he does concede some things about how bad it all looks. On the Ukraine scandal, we both use the word "transcript" as a shorthand for what is the call notes. It's not an actual word-for-word transcript. It is unclear whether a word-for-word transcript actually exists, although it's suggested that one does exist. Sen. Diane Feinstein has actually asked for it to be released, but just don't tear your hair out while we use the word transcript. Okay, I hear you. It's not the actual transcript.

So it is, I think, both an interesting conversation on its own. And also I think an interesting artifact in thinking about where the conservative movement, where conservatism and the Republican party is precisely at this extremely fraught and perilous moment.

So I was thinking about how we're going to have this conversation. And I thought I would start in a place where I think we agree. And that's about-

SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay, my job here is done.

CHRIS HAYES: So I think there is a belief among a lot of liberals that the public protestations of people in the Republican Party about Donald Trump are essentially duplicitous and two-faced, right? That Lindsey Graham or yourself are saying one thing in public and then saying another thing in private. And you see folks like Justin Amash saying this is true. And I am of the belief that that's not true. I'm of the belief that I take Lindsey Graham at his word, I take you at your word and other conservatives, that conservative Republicans think Donald Trump is a great conservative president. They like and admire Donald Trump. They think what he does is good, that he is a great leader. And that they would be happy with Americans determining how they felt about conservatives and the Republican Party by determining how they feel about Donald Trump. Do you agree?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I actually think it's more complicated than that. What I hear from Texans frequently is that they like the policy that's being enacted. They like the substantive policy victories. The country's doing well, the economy is booming, incomes are rising. That they like. I hear from Texans all the time, "I wish someone would take away his Twitter." My sentiment, as you know, Donald Trump was not my first choice for president, but he won. And when he won, I had a job to do, which was represent 28 million Texans and work with him. And I think on the substance, we've accomplished an enormous, enormous amount.

CHRIS HAYES: This is the way primaries work, right? I mean, sure. Barack Obama ran against Hillary Clinton largely on her foreign policy judgment, and then she was secretary of state. But I am interested in conservatism, because I think that the argument you made against Donald Trump to me wasn't just a tactical argument. It was actually a persuasive one. The argument was. "He's not a conservative. I am. I have the better claim to the term." Were you wrong? Have you come to realize that he is a conservative?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Three years ago there was good reason to say, "I don't know what Donald Trump will do as president, because his record on a lot of issues had been in more than one place." I expressed those doubts vigorously. I will say the performance, the actual substantive performance we've seen has been more conservative, has produced better results than I think almost anyone had a right to expect.

Now I think there are a couple of things driving that. One, I and other conservatives work with him very closely. I mean, I view a big part of my job as trying to encourage him to move in a positive direction and discourage him from moving in a negative direction and on a lot of issues, not everything, but on a lot of issues, he's been listening to me. He's been listening to other conservatives. I think that's a good thing. I think it is also the case, I have said more than once, this might surprise you, "Thank God for Nancy Pelosi and thank God for Chuck Schumer." And let me tell you why. Look, Trump at a fundamental level is not complicated to figure out. He likes people who praise him and he hates people who criticize.

CHRIS HAYES: President Zelenskiy had that figured out too. I mean, he did.

SEN. TED CRUZ: If Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi had come in and said, "Mr. President, let's work with you." (By the way, I'm pretty sure Trump had been a donor to both of them in the past.) This was not a crazy concept that they might work together. I actually shudder to think what would've happened to the country.

CHRIS HAYES: So you don't think he fundamentally does have an ideological bearing?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Oh look, I think he makes decisions. I think he has backbone. I think he has boldness. So I'll point to for example, two foreign policy decisions that I think were critically important. Number one, moving our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. I think that was a hugely important decision. It was also a decision presidents, both Republicans and Democrats had promised to do that.

CHRIS HAYES: It's true.

SEN. TED CRUZ: And both Republicans and Democrats had broken that promise.

CHRIS HAYES: Back to your point, Chuck Schumer did applaud that decision.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Yes, but he also didn't attend the opening. I was there in Jerusalem for the opening and no Democrats attended the opening, which is a separate issue. Look, when it comes to Israel, I'm very worried about the sentiments that are rising in the Democratic Party. But let me for a moment focus on this different aspect as you were asking about Trump's decision making. On moving the embassy, both the State Department and the Defense Department argued vigorously against moving the embassy. A number of folks, including me, weighed in with the president vigorously on the other side, and he had the backbone to move it. I think that was an incredibly important decision. And I don't think it was coincidental that the very same week we opened the Embassy is also the week that he pulled out of the Iran-Obama nuclear deal, which I think is the most important national security decision in the last three years.

CHRIS HAYES: So I think you and I disagree strongly on the merits of that deal. So just to table that for a second. But to talk about this dispositional inclination of his, which I think there is a kernel of it that I think people particularly on the left admire or want to see in their own leader, which is the establishment, whatever it is, and whichever part of the party, will always come in and tell you, "here's why you can't do X." I know that you told all these people that you were going to cancel student debt, but now you're the president and you can't do this thing. And I think there was a similar argument made to him about moving the embassy and he said, "Screw it, I'm doing it."

But there is a flip side to that too, because there's also times where people in the establishment, people in the civil service and the people who are the experts say, "You shouldn't do this," and it's kind of important to listen to them.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I think it's important to know how to get things done and understanding Washington, understanding the swamp helps to get things done, but I do think dispositionally, Ronald Reagan famously said, "Paint in bold colors and not pale pastels." I think elections are about choices. I understand why Democrats are drawn to candidates who have a bold vision now. Now it so happens that I think the vision they're advancing doesn't work, that it's bad policy ideas, but I think a president having strength and boldness is a really good characteristic. I also think the fact that, because the far left has such animosity for Trump, Schumer and Pelosi started the administration just savaging him, and I think it resulted in a much more conservative set of policies being implemented.

CHRIS HAYES: I think as a description of the president's behavior, I think that's probably likely true. I think in some ways, I would say it was more than the far left in terms of the people that didn't like... Moderates who are in the Dallas and Houston suburbs for instance, who are pretty worked up about him. But on foreign policy, let's start there and I want to pivot away from the president and talk about conservatism and debates within conservatism.

So one place, there's a really interesting debate in conservatism is about the neo-cons as folks like Rand Paul derisively call them. And folks who are extremely wary about additional foreign military intervention by the United States. Where do you come down on that debate right now? And to me it looks like the tide is shifting away from the Boltons and towards the Rand Pauls in the Republican base. Would you think that's accurate?

SEN. TED CRUZ: So this is an issue I've talked about a lot and thought about a lot. And the short of it is I think both of those polls are wrong. So traditionally, Republican foreign policy has been divided on a spectrum with on one side interventionists and people like John McCain or a Lindsey Graham or maybe a Marco Rubio or Tom Cotton falling into that camp. And then on the other side, what has been characterized as isolationists, people like Rand Paul most notably typify that.

CHRIS HAYES: But going all the way back to Robert Taft. I mean this is a very long tradition.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Sure. I've always described my view as a third point on the triangle. And I consider myself a non-interventionist hawk. Now what does that mean? That confounds the sort of easy stereotypes. So let me explain that with with some details so that it has more clarity. I think the central touchstone for all U.S. foreign policy and for any military action should be defending the vital national security interest of the United States. I think we should be laser focused on that. So let's put that in application, so it's not abstract. When it came to the military action against Syria that President Obama proposed, I opposed that. I initially kept an open mind. I said, "Let me hear the commander in chief explain why this defends our national security, keeps Americans safe." I listened to the arguments and they couldn't present any clear objective that was making us safer. I opposed that.

I likewise think it was a mistake when the Obama administration led a coalition of countries toppling Gadhafi in Libya. When we did that, Gadhafi was a bad guy, but into that void stepped radical Islamic warlords who made it a much worse place. I think the Iraq War was a mistake for the same reason. As bad as Saddam Hussein was-

CHRIS HAYES: Did you come out against the Iraq War at the time?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I didn't. I wasn't engaged in foreign policy fights on the time, I was engaged on domestic policy.

CHRIS HAYES: I mean, I was 25 and in the streets. You were a grown-up citizen.

SEN. TED CRUZ: You're a pundit, I was a lawyer, so I was not... We were doing-

CHRIS HAYES: I wasn't, I was just a freelancer. But I guess my point is that it's easier to say now that Iraq was a mistake.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Yeah, but let's be clear-

CHRIS HAYES: And it was at the time.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I've said Iraq was a mistake for a long time. In the 2016 presidential elections, I said Iraq was a mistake over and over and over again. I believe if we look at what happened, as horrific as Saddam Hussein was, and I'm not naive to think he was a nice guy, he was a terrible guy. But toppling Saddam opened the door to ISIS. My point is on all of those, the policy positions I hold are in agreement with Rand and some of the isolationists. However, Iran I look at fundamentally differently. And the reason is the Ayatollah Khomeini is a theocratic zealot who pledges death to America. And in long and short, I believe him. I think that is a real religiously driven fervor that is profoundly dangerous. It's why I've opposed the Iran deal so vociferously. I think we should do whatever is necessary to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon-

CHRIS HAYES: Including military action.

SEN. TED CRUZ: If needed, if necessary.

CHRIS HAYES: So bombing them?

SEN. TED CRUZ: If we got military intelligence, if we got credible intelligence that they were at all close to getting nuclear weapons and military force was the only way to stop it, absolutely, yes. But look, I have no interest in invading Iran and trying to turn them into Switzerland. I would be perfectly happy leveling their facilities.

CHRIS HAYES: But let's play it out. It doesn't stop with a bomb. So you say, "I don't want to invade them and turn them into Switzerland," but if we have to intervene militarily-

SEN. TED CRUZ: Actually, have you looked at how Israel defends itself? It often does stop with a bomb. When when you build a facility, Israel bombs the h--- out of it and leaves.

CHRIS HAYES: That has happened a few times. Yes.

SEN. TED CRUZ: And part of my view, when I say-

CHRIS HAYES: You cannot, the enemy gets a vote. You don't get to control the reaction of your intervention.

SEN. TED CRUZ: But here's a point where actually I think the assumptions are counter to what a lot of folks, particularly in the media world understand, Reagan referred to it as peace through strength. I think weakness, I think the dovishness of the left invites conflict. I think it increases the chance of military conflict. And Reagan, it's worth remembering in eight years, the biggest country Reagan ever invaded was Grenada. So he rebuilt our military. He took on the Soviet Union, he won the Cold War. But he was very reluctant as am I to send our sons and daughters in harm's way. And there's only one reason to do that. And that is to protect the lives of Americans and our allies.

CHRIS HAYES: But he also, and we'll move on from this, but he also did a 180 on a nuclear deal. I mean he came in viewing Russia as essentially an implacable foe that can only be browbeat. And I know what you're going to say, "Well, peace through strength. And he got them to the bargaining table." But he also changed his mind. I mean, what happens with START and what happens with the bilateral deals that he strikes ultimately with Gorbachev and that sign in Reykjavik is that he comes in with one position and comes out being essentially a nuclear arms deal maker.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Undoubtedly. And it's one of the great legacies. But, but-

CHRIS HAYES: Yes, I would agree with that as a liberal.

SEN. TED CRUZ: But peace comes through strength. So if you look at the Carter administration, when we dealt with the Soviets, we dealt from a position of weakness. Reagan, number one, revived the American economy, cut taxes, he repealed job killing regulations, the economy soared. That economic strength. And I know we're going to talk about that in a few minutes, which I'm happy to do, that economic strength in turn helped fund rebuilding the military. But then he also took on making the clear ideological case. So when Reagan said, "The Soviet union is an evil empire," the intelligentsia was horrified that this ignorant cowboy would say such a thing. When he said Marxism, Leninism will end up on the ash heap of history, again, D.C. was horrified. In my office, if you come to my office in D.C., there's a gigantic painting of Reagan standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate saying what I think is the most important words any leaders said in modern times. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." That clear leadership from strength is what helped-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait a second. That's the exact opposite of what is happening with North Korea right now. Right now the president-

SEN. TED CRUZ: I have have real concerns about our policy in North Korea.

CHRIS HAYES: What's happening is in some ways it's every bit the opposite. The president isn't just saying, "I want to do a deal with them," which again, I would favor. He's actually saying, "He's a great leader. I literally love him. He writes me these beautiful notes and I think he is a great leader for his country." It is a Gulag State that every part of the American spectrum of political ideology agrees is one of the most ghastly mad scientist experiments in human subjugation that exists on the globe.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So Chris, after this, I'm going to do my very best to write you a beautiful letter. So I hope it has sticking power. Look, I believe the most powerful tool in politics and in diplomacy is the bully pulpit of the presidency. I wish this president used it differently. When it comes to North Korea, although I will say this, look, I think there has been strength in dealing with North Korea compared to where the Obama administration was. And I will say if you go back, go back to the North Korea deal that Bill Clinton led. The North Korea deal at the time was we had sanctions in place against North Korea. Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong Un's father was the dictator and we negotiated a deal. The United States led, we lifted the sanctions. We let billions of dollars flow in in exchange for a promise not to build nuclear weapons.

Image: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers a question from Chris Hayes during a panel at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 28, 2019.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers a question from Chris Hayes during a panel at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 28, 2019.Sergio Flores / Getty Images

CHRIS HAYES: Also monitoring.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay, also monitoring.

CHRIS HAYES: We had cameras, we had cameras in the factories and we had an inspection regime.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Agreed. And it was an absolute failure. Kim Jong-il took the billions, built nuclear weapons, built ICBMs, has targeted the United States-

CHRIS HAYES: Bush pulled it out of the deal in the first six months.

SEN. TED CRUZ: It was an absolute failure. It didn't work.

CHRIS HAYES: That deal never happened.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Of course the deal... What happened was-

CHRIS HAYES: Bush pulled out of the deal and we were-

SEN. TED CRUZ: What happened was the sanctions were relaxed and the money flowed in. When you give someone billions of dollars, look, there's a reason. There's a reason nobody goes and studies at the Neville Chamberlain school of foreign policy.

CHRIS HAYES: Right, I totally agree.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Giving billions of dollars to dictators and tyrants is a profoundly foolish move.

CHRIS HAYES: I think there's moments where it might not be foolish, but putting that aside-

SEN. TED CRUZ: Which dictators and tyrants should we fund their aggression?

CHRIS HAYES: I think everything is a cost-benefit analysis of the possibility of military engagement, the cost of military engagement and the possibility of peace. And I think that often the bias of Washington, D.C., and I think actually you would agree with this, the bias of Washington, D.C., is to under count the cost of war. We have spent by some estimates and it's hard, because it's a dynamic situation. There's both the treasury and there's other related cascading costs of war, $6 trillion on permanent war since 2001. $6 trillion. There are proposals coming from Democratic candidates where people say, "Well, that's crazy, that's going to cost $1 trillion." We spent $6 trillion. We're spending money right now in Afghanistan in the longest war in the history of this republic. So my baseline assumption about foreign policy is, and I think in some ways you agree with this, right, that the bias of Washington is action, the bias of Washington is intervention and the bias of Washington is to discount the cost of military engagement.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I agree. But I'll tell you part of the reason. So if you look at the interventionists, which have been the dominant stream of foreign policy in Republican thought for some time now, they have a view that we can go and vindicate democracy and cause these gardens of Eden to spring up where dictatorships had reigned. I think that's hopelessly naive. Now, I believe there's a powerful role for America to speak out for freedom, to encourage democracy, to use the bully pulpit.

CHRIS HAYES: Completely agree.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Reagan in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

CHRIS HAYES: Right now, China's got a million people in concentration camps in western China.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Absolutely. And you know what's interesting about when Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"? Three times the State Department crossed that out of the speech. Three times Reagan wrote it back with his own hand and the State Department argued, "Mr. President, you can't say this. It's unrealistic. It's too belligerent, and most importantly, it will never work. It will never happen." Reagan wrote it back and he said, "This is the whole point of the speech."

SEN. TED CRUZ: Here's the powerful thing. Within three years of that speech, that wall was torn to the ground and it wasn't torn to the ground by American tanks. We didn't bomb it with American missiles. It was American strength and clarity and sunshine and light, but-

CHRIS HAYES: But that is again, that is the opposite of what is happening now. The president goes around talking about how much he likes every dictator.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I have said more than once, I wish the rhetoric from the president were different. That being said, I think compared to the Obama administration, we are much stronger dealing with our enemies than we should be. Our language isn't, but our substantive actions are. I would like our language to match our actions. That would make me happier.

CHRIS HAYES: Right. So, let's table that for a second because I think fundamentally I disagree, but I feel like I have a good sense of where you're coming from.

SEN. TED CRUZ: And let me make a very just quick point on this also, whether North Korea or China or Venezuela-

CHRIS HAYES: Or the Saudis.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I'm happy to get to the Saudis. I think the Saudis are a more complicated question. I think there is an important value in highlighting dissidence and shining a light on people being persecuted. So whether you talk about the Uighurs in concentration camps, whether you talk about Tibetans being slaughtered, I mean I repeatedly try to shine a light, by name, on dissidence being persecuted because there's a power to that and I think we ought to be doing more of that. Now that doesn't mean that I'm prepared to send in the Marines-

CHRIS HAYES: Right, yes.

SEN. TED CRUZ: ... unless it is necessary to keeping Americans safe. I think that's the justification for military force.

CHRIS HAYES: I think that division of labor there is one that I broadly agree with, that it's really important for both civil society and for leaders to speak out and apply pressure on things like the concentration camps of the Uighur, but it is very dangerous to think of military intervention as being the solution to that. I think that's generally a correct framework. I want to, if we can, I want to talk about some domestic policy issues.


CHRIS HAYES: Okay, so it's me again. Hi, I'm in the recording studio. You hear my voice is different than in that auditorium. Well, we're going to hear that discussion about domestic policies, which of course includes climate policy and impeachment. I think you can guess there are some disagreements between the two of us and we'll hear that right after this break.

I thought it was really interesting. So there's a climate strike happening and a lot of Fox folks ridiculing Greta Thunberg and the climate strikers and Dan Crenshaw, who of course is a Texas Congressman, a sort of freshmen star and very much in avowed conservative. It was very interesting. He tweeted something basically saying look again, these people are wrong. Their ideas are wooly headed socialism, blah blah blah. But we do need to reduce carbon emissions. Which I thought, huh. So I just want to start with the basics. Do you accept that human activity is putting carbon in the atmosphere, the carbon is warming the earth and we need to reduce carbon emissions?

SEN. TED CRUZ: All right, so you had three statements there. Statement number one is unequivocally correct. Statement number two or three, the data are mixed and-

CHRIS HAYES: They're not mixed.

SEN. TED CRUZ: And let me start with-

CHRIS HAYES: They just aren't mixed. You guys. Guys, guys, guys, seriously.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So see this is what's known as, as sort of intelligent scientific discussion. But actually look, that screaming says something. I am the son of two scientists. My parents are mathematicians and computer programmers.

I believe in science. I believe in data. I believe in following science and data. I think what is dangerous about the climate movement is it has become an emotional primal scream rather than being driven by science and data. I'm perfectly happy and I think we should have conversation about data. And let me say more about that-

CHRIS HAYES: Let me ask you there. How much time have you spent with climate scientists?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I've chaired multiple hearings, hearing testimony from multiple climate scientists across the spectrum. I've heard people who are both-

CHRIS HAYES: There's just not a spectrum though. There's a spectrum... Here, let me say this-

SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay. I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what, Chris, let me encourage you to watch... So I chaired a hearing in the commerce committee. I used to chair the science and space subcommittee. I chaired a hearing on the data behind global warming. We had a number of witnesses. I encourage you to read their testimony. These are respected professors at academics and they had a range of views. I can tell you the climate alarmists. If you go back, go back to the 60s. In the 60s there were a series of predictions. The world is ending in 10 years. In the 70s the world is ending in 10 years. In the 80s the world is ending in 10 years. In the 90s the world is ending 10 years. Their predictions keep being proven wrong and dramatically wrong. Not even a little bit wrong.

CHRIS HAYES: But first of all, let's just talk about... Let's go back to those three points of contention. We're putting carbon in the atmosphere. Agreed?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Undoubtedly. That's a statement of fact.

CHRIS HAYES: Carbon warms the atmosphere is a statement of fact?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, they're is actually mixed data. So if you look at the data... So let's actually talk about what the data is. Don't roll your eyes and say, "Oh goodness, don't have disputes." So, for example...

CHRIS HAYES: No, because the disputes are not on the physical impact of carbon on the atmosphere.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Really?


SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay, so let's actually talk about... There are two principle sources of data on temperatures. They're number one, the ground level bullies that are measuring temperatures. Number two, the satellites that are measuring temperatures in the satellite. The satellite data for 18 years has shown zero statistically significant warming. And here's the problem-

CHRIS HAYES: You think the earth is not warming right now?

SEN. TED CRUZ: So did you notice a few years ago-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait, do you think the earth is not warming right now?

SEN. TED CRUZ: In the last two years, what happened to the TRS temperatures?

CHRIS HAYES: We have had nine of the 10 hottest years on record in the last ten years.

SEN. TED CRUZ: In the last two years, the Earth's average temperatures, according to NASA, dropped 0.5 degrees, in the last two years. Those are facts.


SEN. TED CRUZ: Now there's a whole-

CHRIS HAYES: That's not... All right.

SEN. TED CRUZ: You can speak and then I'll speak. We don't need to...

CHRIS HAYES: No, no. I just, my question is, I'm just asking for the general trend here. So I mean I think we've come to the answer. You do not think the earth is warming?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I think we should follow the data. And so here's the testimony the Senate heard in terms of the client. So the computer models for climate show that the earth should be warming dramatically. Remember the hockey stick? That it should be going up really fast. The satellite data that have thermometers that are actually measuring the temperature don't show that. There's a term for that. It's called the pause. And the reason it's called the pause is because the satellite data don't match the computer projections. And did you notice a few years ago the terminology changed? Actually people don't say global warming anymore.

CHRIS HAYES: Wait a second.

SEN. TED CRUZ: They say climate change. And that was driven because the data didn't match the projection.

CHRIS HAYES: So just to be clear, I just want to be clear on your stance. You think the data does not show the earth is warming and that we're not warming right now?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I think the data are mixed. I think there have been years and periods where there's been warming. There are years and periods where there had been cooling and the data are mixed. I'll give you another example, Al Gore-

CHRIS HAYES: So you don't agree with Dan Crenshaw here?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Hold on, let me finish this sentence. Al Gore in 2008 said, "Within five years there will be no ice on the North pole." Now, the interesting thing is you can go and test that projection. That was 2013 and it is totally laughably, entirely false.

CHRIS HAYES: There have been wrong predictions, but there have also been a million right predictions. I mean you have seen what's happening in Glacier National Park. You have seen what's happened across the corn belt. It's happening.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So let me ask you a question. Polarized caps today, is there more polarized or less polarized than there was 10 years ago?

CHRIS HAYES: There's about the same.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Actually slightly more. And actually the phenomenon we're seeing is in the Arctic, it's decreasing some. On the Antarctic, it's increasing some.

CHRIS HAYES: But the sum total of this... And it's, it's sort of a strange dance we're doing because again, I'm not a U.S. Senator, you are. I'm just asking is the earth warming? And what you're giving me back is an argument that it's not. And then you're saying, "well I believe in the data." But what you say is you are saying that the data shows the world is not warming.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So, Chris, I'm saying the data are mixed. Which by the way... Look, the problem with this debate is you're demanding a religious-

CHRIS HAYES: No, I'm not.

SEN. TED CRUZ: You are. Even the language of this debate. A climate denier. That's the language of theology. That's a heretic. You are a denier. You know, throughout science you could test the data.

CHRIS HAYES: Why do you think... So here's my second question. And I've spent a lot of time with climate scientist. So I would like a theory of why it is that 99 percent of climate scientists, these are people that work in the bowels of different universities. There are people, I've met them, I've gone out to Nebraska, I've talked to them in Texas and in Austin there's actually some great climate sciences. What is the theory for how they're all collectively getting it wrong?

SEN. TED CRUZ: And by the way, that stat, which the stat that gets recited almost like a mantra. It's not 99 percent, it's 97 percent, is based on one ridiculous and bogus study. Look, you guys can laugh where they emailed a bunch of people describe. Most of them didn't respond. They came out with that stat and it gets responded as don't discuss facts or evidence. But hold on, let me stop for a second.

CHRIS HAYES: Well, what's the theory here?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Let me stop for a second. The theory is we should respond to data and evidence and actual facts, but let's talk about the environment more broadly. I believe we have a responsibility to clean up the environment. I want clean air. I want clean water. My children breathe and drink water. I'd like my grandchildren to be able to breathe and drink clean water. I think we ought to talk about part of the zealotry of this issue is it shifts away.

So just this past week, I'm on the Senate foreign relations committee. We passed a bill of which I'm a cosponsor called the Save our Seas legislation. If you look at plastic waste in our seas, 90 percent of the waste, the plastic waste in our oceans, comes from 10 rivers, eight of which are in Asia, two of which are in Africa. If you want to reduce plastics in our ocean that are killing turtles, that are killing fish, that's unambiguously good, reducing that pollution. Save our Seas legislation that we just passed out of committee. I hope we get signed into law soon. Has the government, has the United States leaning in working with those governments to clean up that pollution to reduce it.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Let me say something else. Economic prosperity. State of Texas, carbon monoxide in the state of Texas since 2000, carbon monoxide emissions have dropped 75 percent in the state of Texas.

CHRIS HAYES: That's great.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Texas has a tremendous record and here's where I've got a problem with-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait a second, wait a second.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Go ahead.

CHRIS HAYES: I get all this and that's great. I just want to just mark this because I think I thought I would come into this... And particularly, because I saw Dan Crenshaw and he's a more conservative saying this. I thought what you were going to say is, yes, all of that's true, but modeling is incredibly unreliable. We don't know what the future holds. We should be extremely circumspect and prudential about actions we take that may affect the prosperity of our government, et cetera. Right? But what I'm hearing from you and I think, I guess I wonder how curious, it's like you just aren't sold on the basic connection, the basic platform belief of the IPC and basically every major democratic party in the entire OACD and scientific community. You are not sold on that basic story about what is happening between carbon warming and what we need to do.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Politically. A large percentage of the political leaders who are advocating this are also advocating massive government control of the economy and socialism. I think much of what's going on politically is that you have politicians who are socialists, whether they admit it or not, and climate is a good excuse to say, "You've got to have socialism or else all of humanity's going to die." So it has a way to frame it as I'm saving the world and anyone who disagrees wants every person on earth to live. When you put it in those bold, moral terms... By the way, we should always be a little scared of politicians who hold themselves out as the savior for the world. That has not worked out well historically.

CHRIS HAYES: I think what you're saying there, which I think is actually a crucial insight here. Because I do think that a lot of conservatives are kind of reasoning in exactly that way. Which is I don't like socialism. I don't like state control. I don't like a large regulatory state. I don't want there to be crack down on oil companies and bans on fracking and things like that. Ergo, in this sort of like retroactive reasoning way, they got to be wrong about what the thing they're saying is the problem. But we could just have like a carbon fee and dividend or there's a bunch of things that conservatives could say and there are some conservatives who support once you say, look, the basic story here is just unavoidable.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So Chris, let me ask you something. Do you know what person in modern times has had the single greatest impact reducing carbon emissions of any human being alive?


SEN. TED CRUZ: There's a clear and objective answer to that. The answer to that is a fellow named George Mitchell. George Mitchell was a Texas oil man.

CHRIS HAYES: I thought you were going to say Ronald Reagan.

SEN. TED CRUZ: No, no, no, no, no. Although that's always a good guess for me. Reagan is pretty much the answer to everything.

CHRIS HAYES: As he walked across the water, he was taking the carbon out of the air.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I take that as a fair point.

CHRIS HAYES: Saying "Tear down this carbon."

SEN. TED CRUZ: I have a giant bust of Reagan in my office. I'm readily... You look at George Mitchell. George Mitchell was the son of Greek goat herders. He came to Texas, came to Galveston, founded the Woodlands, and George Mitchell pioneered fracking. Now fracking has become demonized, but fracking unlocked massive shale deposits of both natural gas and oils. Totally transformed the geopolitical world and in particular has resulted in an incredible shift from coal power production to natural gas power production. There is nothing, no socialist regulator, no Paris deal, nothing has had anywhere close to as big an impact on carbon emissions as has a Texas oil man innovating fracking and moving away from coal to natural gas. I think that's how we should address the environment through innovation that also produces jobs.

CHRIS HAYES: So I will say the last point on this, and I think we moved to other stuff, is that I actually agree. So I actually think that-

SEN. TED CRUZ: My job here is done.

CHRIS HAYES: Producing the framework for innovation that innovates us away from fossil fuel is absolutely the most vital thing we can do. There are already amazing explosion in wind and solar. There could be all kinds of things that we don't even realize at this point that are carbon free, fossil free forms of energy. And that it's extremely exciting to imagine a world in which we create the conditions for that innovation to happen, create lots of new jobs, boost the American economy, distribute power, which we don't have right now. We have an incredibly concentrated power system.

SEN. TED CRUZ: By the way, distributing power scares the h--- out of me. To be honest Mao and Stalin talked about distributing power. Distributing power is inevitably-

CHRIS HAYES: No, no. I mean the electrons.

SEN. TED CRUZ: No, no. Oh.

CHRIS HAYES: I just mean like... Physically.

SEN. TED CRUZ: That's kind of funny then.

CHRIS HAYES: I physically mean the actual power sources.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay. Maybe we're talking about different things. That's thoroughly amusing.

CHRIS HAYES: So let me...

SEN. TED CRUZ: I thought you were saying power to the people and I'm like-

CHRIS HAYES: Well, I believe in that too, but in this case I just mean literally.

SEN. TED CRUZ:So I do too. I just don't want government to take the power and then claim it's going to give it back. I just want to leave it with the people. Let me just very briefly, before we leave this topic on a little bit of substance and specifics. Several weeks ago, as you know, CNN did, I don't know, 700 hours of climate debate with all 400 democratic candidates.

CHRIS HAYES: It was nine.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay. I only watched sort of snippets of it afterwards. I saw one snippet where Elizabeth Warren was asked: Look, nuclear power doesn't have carbon emissions. If you care about carbon emissions, shouldn't you be for nuclear power? And this is a good idea. And her answer, she said, "I hear what you're saying, but no. If I'm elected president there will be zero new nuclear plants." Okay. And I actually engaged in this a little bit because it's, if you actually are trying to have a serious public policy position, her position as I understand it, she said categorically no nukes. She also believes no coal. She also-

CHRIS HAYES: She doesn't have to do anything. Thanks to George Mitchell, there's very little she has to do to kill off coal.

SEN. TED CRUZ: There's still substantial coal though.

CHRIS HAYES: It is on an incredible decline.

SEN. TED CRUZ: It is challenged dramatically by natural gas. But she also has talked about banning fracking. So I guess electric is okay. Although electricity comes principally from natural gas and coal. If you have no fracking and no coal, I don't know where the electricity comes from. And so my question is where do you... Planes run on jet fuel. If you have no gasoline and no jet fuel, I mean, you're literally, planes are flying on pixie dust and we put windmills on our cars. I mean that's not anything resembling a serious energy policy. And by the way, Texas leads the nation in wind production. I'm all for alternatives. But you can't run an airplane on wind. It doesn't work that way. You can get up on a glider-

CHRIS HAYES: You can't right now.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Take a hot air balloon, but it'll take you a while.

CHRIS HAYES: I mean you can't right now, but this is more computing power than would fit in an entire building 30 years ago. So God bless American innovation. Let's hope we get to the point where planes don't need fossil fuel.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Good. Okay, so here's some common ground and maybe we can end up there. I absolutely believe there will come a time, and it may be relatively soon, where we move away from fossil fuel. I don't know if it's 10 years or 50 years or 100 years. I don't know. What I do know is that I don't think it's going to be Washington bureaucrats who figure it out. I think they're almost certain to get it wrong. And I think it will come from private sector innovation. Nobody saw fracking coming until George Mitchell just began experimenting. It was a technological marvel that transformed the energy picture. I'll make a prediction. When we move to whatever alternative energy source becomes the next one. And much of humanity's progress has been from one energy source to another, whether steam, whether they're burning wood, whether coal. I mean-

CHRIS HAYES: We've been stuck on fossil fuels for about 180 years.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, although I will say actually moving... So even moving to coal, moving to coal actually saved millions of lives and cleaned up the environment dramatically.

CHRIS HAYES: Totally. Yes.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Because before that people had wood stoves and the pollution they were breathing in was much worse. So we had been steadily improving. Now moving from coal to natural gas is an improvement. Here's my prediction. Whatever the next energy source is that becomes the dominant one, I think it's actually going to be Texas entrepreneurs driving it. Because what I think Texas is good at is being energy entrepreneurs. And I wanted a business environment, an economic environment, where those small businesses are innovating and creating those new opportunities.

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah. And I think I would agree with that. And I think that the subsidies we give to oil companies stand in the way of that. I think that that-

SEN. TED CRUZ: And I would-

CHRIS HAYES: And we get a lot.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So I'm curious... Look, I'm against subsidies and I've advocated we should have no subsidies in energy across the board. We shouldn't pick winners and losers. I will say though, it is a common talking point about all the subsidies we give oil and gas. Let me ask you, what-

CHRIS HAYES: Huge stuff on the tax depreciation and capital sides that they take a special advantage of. It is capital intensive, but if you look at the analysis of where the breakdown of those cuts go, they go primarily and overwhelmingly to fossil fuel extractions.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So, I will point out the rhetoric that goes into this because I'm all for ending subsidies. But the rhetoric that goes behind this, the depletion allowance, is in any other business, if you invest in a factory, you're allowed to take depreciation on that factory. That's how business accounting works. And the rhetoric of this is they say, you know what, the same accounting every other business does, when an oil and gas operator does it, it's suddenly a subsidy for them. Allowing them to take the same-

CHRIS HAYES: It's totally different for them.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Business deductions everyone takes, which is, in other words, measuring real profits, that's not a subsidy.

CHRIS HAYES: I disagree because I think extraction is fundamentally different than what a factory does. But let's just leave that aside. Let me ask you this-

SEN. TED CRUZ: But I will agree on ending subsidies. Now, would you end also all energy subsidies or just the energy you don't like?

CHRIS HAYES: No, I think the government should put the thumb on the scale because I-

SEN. TED CRUZ: I'd end them all. So we're halfway there.

CHRIS HAYES: Well, I mean partly because we don't agree on what the underlying problem is. Right? I mean I think that the science is extremely clear on climate and I think that because of that there's a prudential need to act very quickly. And I think the prudential need to act very quickly shows that there's a few things. One, government could do basic research. We've seen a decline in basic research year over year, right? It's not good. We can also do a lot of things to create the conditions to price externalities, like the price of carbon pollution.

CHRIS HAYES: We can do things to promote the production of property in energy innovation. Put people to work, export that to the rest of the world. There's a lot of good stuff to do as we move from fossil fuel extraction to the next energy economy.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So let me ask a simple yes, no question. Do you think if a Democrat is elected in 2020 that he or she should implement policies to ban fracking in the United States?

CHRIS HAYES: I'm not sure they can actually.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Assume they can. You're right they-

CHRIS HAYES: I don't think they can.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So I don't either. But I also think the odds are high that a number of the Democrats running would try anyway and then it'd be tied up in litigation.

CHRIS HAYES: But I would say-

SEN. TED CRUZ: Would you support the policy of banning fracking?

CHRIS HAYES: I think not immediate, but I think you would have to do some sort of a sliding scale. I mean you'd have to put it on some sort of road. Three to five years, six years, seven years, something like that.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So look, I have to say, I think... I'm glad for that clarity. I hope all the 2020 Democratic candidates have that degree of clarity.

CHRIS HAYES: Warren says day one and Sanders says he wouldn't do day one.

SEN. TED CRUZ: In doing it day one, the projections are it would cost 14 million jobs nationally. In the state of Texas, would cost one and a half million jobs. I think it is hard to find something that would be more economically devastating than doing that. And I think that's an example of how... Look the Democratic side is-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait a second, wait a second. I have to just respond to this, and I don't want to keep going around in circles on this. But what that does is it's only looking at one part of the ledger because if you don't think there's any cost of the world warming at the rate it's warming, all you look at is you say, "Well, the 1 million jobs are gone." But if temperatures are going through the roof, if El Paso has more hundred degree days than it ever has in history, as it did this summer.

If heat born illness starts creeping up north. If droughts and flooding and natural storms create billions of dollars of both human loss and economic loss, then you have to look at the totality of it. If you hand wave away one side of it and say, "That isn't happening, it isn't getting warmer. All you farmers out there that are changing your crops, you're crazy. You don't know what you're talking about. The data is modeled." Then you have gotten rid of one side of the ledger when you evaluate the efficacy of whatever policy you're doing.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Look, we got lots of people cheering here in Austin. But you know, I'm reminded of actually something that Reagan said in the 1980 campaign. And I did that on purpose. Which is he said, "Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours." That's very easy for you to say that. Are you willing to lose your job in 2021 as a result of it? Look, it's easy in Travis County for people who are wealthy and college educated and doing well-

CHRIS HAYES: I don't want anyone to lose their job.

SEN. TED CRUZ: ... to say, "Let's take away one and a half million jobs in Texas." I encourage you, come down to South Texas and meet households, meet Hispanic men and single moms who are providing for their families whose incomes are going-

Sir, please don't just scream. This is meant to be a discussion. I think it is foolish and wrong for democratic presidential candidates to cavalierly be prepared to tell 14 million people who are predominantly middle income or low income, "You guys are out all out of a job." I think that's wrong. I think we ought to be fighting for jobs.

CHRIS HAYES: Let me respond in two ways. One is there's a bunch of miners down in Harlan County right now who haven't been paid. Their mine's shut down. They've been standing the railroad into that mine for several weeks. There's miners out in Wyoming who just lost their job. As far as I can tell no one in government is doing anything for them. We did a story and we sent a reporter out to that mine in Wyoming. I want those people to be taken care of. I want them to have jobs. I want them to have health care. I want them to have pensions. And in fact, I think the democratic candidates do. And I think we agree that people shouldn't just be tossed on the-

I want to turn to the news of the week because we haven't talked about it. I understand a few things I think of the psychology of folks who are viewing what's happening this week. And I've heard you talk about it, which is the Democrats have wanted him gone from day one. Essentially, all of this is pre-textual. They're roving around, they've come to the conclusion and they're looking for the facts to backfill. They are succumbing to pressure from their far left, et cetera. I get all that. But I just want to focus on the transcript and the call.

I was going back and watching folks on the democratic side react to Bill Clinton back in '98. And basically everyone was like, "Yeah, dude, that's not cool." Like it's just not cool. Now you can say it's not impeachable, but it's not okay. Like you shouldn't have done that. Do you feel that way about the exchange with Zelenskiy? That it's not okay. I'm not telling you, I'm not saying you support impeachment, he should be run out of office. I'm just saying evaluate it on its terms, that the president of the United States, he brings up the military aid. He says, "I want you to do me a favor though," and he makes two asks. I think that's inappropriate. I think a lot of people think that that's inappropriate. And it has been weird to me to not see more Republicans just say, "He shouldn't have done that."

SEN. TED CRUZ: So let's break it down. I've read the entire transcript.

CHRIS HAYES: Me too, yeah.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I've also read what's being referred to as the whistleblower complaint and I've read them both cover to cover. As you noted there are two asks in the transcript. You know, I have to say first of all what was said about the transcript when I picked it up to read it, I expected it to be much worse than it was. Because for days all of the discussion on TV had been that it was alleged to be an illegal quid pro quo. So when I picked up the transcript, look, I didn't know what I would see. As you noted, there were two asks. The first ask was the president asks Ukraine to assist in investigating interference into the 2016 presidential election. I think that ask is unequivocally proper and it cannot be the case that it is inappropriate as a law enforcement matter for the federal government to investigate foreign interference in our elections, given that we'd been doing two and a half years-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait a second, okay let's stop right there. He says, "CrowdStrike the server. I think a rich Ukrainian has it. Can you look into that?" Do you understand what he's saying there?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I have no idea, and look-

CHRIS HAYES: Okay. Wait, but I want to be clear about it. Because this is the president of the United States. CrowdStrike is the firm the DNC hired to do their forensics after the breach. There is a conspiracy theory that is completely, completely unsupported by the evidence, that CrowdStrike colluded with Ukrainian interests and the DNC to frame Russia for the hack and that it wasn't Russia. When he says, "CrowdStrike, I think they have the server, a rich Ukrainian," what the president of the United States is saying, "Russia didn't do the hack. Please look into the con job that was done by this firm to make it look like Russia did it."

SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay, now of course, that's not what he said. You're doing a little bit like Adam Schiff and sort of putting words in his mouth-

CHRIS HAYES: No, no. I'm saying-

SEN. TED CRUZ: ... that he didn't actually say.

CHRIS HAYES: No he said, CrowdStrike-

SEN. TED CRUZ: Look, here's-

CHRIS HAYES: CrowdStrike and a rich Ukrainian has the server.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I don't know what happened or not. My point is that asking for an investigation into foreign interference into our elections is a perfectly appropriate law enforcement function. And you believe that, because for two years on MSNBC the only topic of discussion has been Russia, Russia, Russia interfering in our elections-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait a second-

SEN. TED CRUZ: ... it's perfectly appropriate if there was other interference to say investigate to it. Not an illegitimate purpose.

CHRIS HAYES: Totally true. But there has to be a predicate for investigations, as you would agree. You're a lawyer. We don't just do investigations based on nothing. I won't say, "I'm investigating Ted Cruz today," or, "I'm investigating Rand Paul," or, "I'm investigating Adam Schiff." There is a factual predicate. In the case of Russia, the factual predicate was, and I think you agree with this, Russia hacked into the DNC servers and they hacked Podesta's emails.

SEN. TED CRUZ: And Russia attempted to interfere in our election, which was wrong-

CHRIS HAYES: You agree with that?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Absolutely. Absolutely. Look, I'm no fan of Vladimir Putin.

CHRIS HAYES: No, no. I just want to make sure that we're in agreement on that. In that case, the factual predicate is that Russia did it, like we saw the email, someone hacked the DNC-

SEN. TED CRUZ: Okay, but the fact that Russia-

CHRIS HAYES: In this case, there's factual predicate for an investigation.

SEN. TED CRUZ: The fact that Russia did it, doesn't mean nobody else was attempting to interfere in our election. And in fact, we have had a long history of others countries-

CHRIS HAYES: Totally agree-

SEN. TED CRUZ: ... trying to interfere in our elections.

CHRIS HAYES: ... I'm just saying investigations have to be based on factual predicates. In the case of Russia, the factual predicate is that Russia hacked the servers. In the case of this CrowdStrike Ukraine stuff, there's no factual credit because it's a crazy theory.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Look, I don't know what the factual predicate is or not. I don't think it, I think it is a legitimate law enforcement purpose to investigate whether there was foreign interference. Now the second part is the Biden part. And I will readily acknowledge the Biden part is more troubling. It is not, on the face of the transcript, a quid pro quo. And it's certainly not illegal quid pro quo. But look, in the legal world there are principles of conflict of interest and there's also a question of an appearance of impropriety. I would have wished the president had not gone down that road. Because at the very minimum, there's an appearance that I would rather he not have opened the door to.

I've got to tell you, Donald Trump says things frequently that I wish he wouldn't say. And I don't have control over that. The fact that he shouldn't have gone down that road is a long way from saying therefore he should be impeached and forcibly removed from office after the American people have voted in a presidential election. That is a big threshold. And there are a lot of Democrats who I think, and this is where you started, they're not focused on the facts. They want him impeached and whatever the facts are, are fine.

CHRIS HAYES: Whether that's the case or not, and I think that might be true in some cases. In some cases, there are folks like Al Green who would readily agree because he's been calling for impeachment from the first week. Right? So that's like a matter of fact.


CHRIS HAYES: Right? Maxine Waters as well. But just to zoom in here, right? Like it's not, when you say, "Well the president says a lot of things I don't like." This is a little different than like a tweet. It's a head of state. He represents the American people in that phone call, all of us. It's a public trust. He's talking to a head of state. He's not tweeting. He's not saying, "Little Adam Schiff," or whatever dumb thing he tweets. He's making an ask as the head of state. And it's an ask. He says, "You should do this thing." That is an official act. It's, I just want to be clear. That's not him saying a thing. He is acting when he gets on a call with the head of state. In the same way that if Barack Obama got on the call with Rouhani and said, "I'd like you to do us this favor," you would recognize immediately that that's an act.

SEN. TED CRUZ: So look, government leaders have conversations with other government leaders and they say all sorts of things. I will say I'm very glad that the president and the administration released the transcript. I think it was the right thing to do. And I think it's a dangerous precedent when you have heads of state speaking to each other if they fear that it will be released publicly. You do want them to be able to speak with a degree of candor. But I think it's good that the transcript was released, because the sort of fevered conspiracy theories about what he in fact said, we now have the actual transcript of what he said. But I'll point out also, you know, look, part of the allegations concern vice president Biden.

Look, I think it would also make sense for the administration to release transcripts of any conversations Biden had with Ukraine. Do the same standard, release Biden's transcripts and Trump's transcript. And we can see if there was anything illegitimate or not, we can see those conversations as well.

CHRIS HAYES: So two things about that. One is on the Trump part of this, because he's the president right now. Don't you think, I've seen a lot of people say this is hearsay, the whistleblower complaint. In the same light of the transparency, the whistleblower complaint, and don't you think we should just hear from the principals, the people directly? Kurt Volker, Masha Evanovich, who is the ambassador recalled from Ukraine about what they know? Like we should just hear from them and do fact finding to figure out what exactly happened here.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Look, I think there should be an investigation. And this week I voted and every member of the Senate voted unanimously to refer this matter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, to investigate. Senate Intelligence Committee is Republican and Democrat, both sides, and they'll investigate. And I assume-

CHRIS HAYES: They'll talk to those people.

SEN. TED CRUZ: ... they will talk to the relevant people. Yes I agree, it should be investigated. But I'll point out there are a lot of Democrats who are saying, "Impeach him now." Before anything's investigated, before they know any facts, their starting point is impeach him. So I can promise you once an investigation happens, the end point is still going to be impeach him. They've made up their minds. And they're telling us this.

CHRIS HAYES: By the way, you're right about that. They are doing fact finding. But let me just, we'll end here because we're sort of running up against time. But I'm just going to tell you what their thinking is about the facts as we know them. And then we could, you could respond. So we know, it's not disputed, the president personally ordered $400 million of military aid to Ukraine to be paused or stopped. In fact, this was troubling to you and your colleagues, including Lindsey Graham, who at one point threatened to join Dick Durban in withholding $5 billion in Pentagon aid unless the money was released. Mitch McConnell asked questions about where it had gone. Because you guys in both houses wanted them to have this aid, because Russia's occupying their country. So we know the president ordered the aid stopped one week before he made the phone call, established.

We know that he got on the phone with Zelenskiy and he said, "I'd like you to do me a favor." And he made those two asks, as you said. One of them is investigate my rival and his son. We know that he told him to work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani and the Department of Justice Attorney General, the chief law enforcement of the country, on that investigation. We know that the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani has both publicly and privately said he wants to, and I'm quoting him here, "Meddle in the investigation in Ukraine," and has met with up to five prosecutors, sometimes coordinated through the state department with the express intent, as he says all the time, all day on Fox News, "With getting them to reopen investigation into Vice President Biden and his son." There are people that think that is itself an impeachable abuse of power. And I have not mentioned anything that is factually disputed.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, let's go through that a little bit because there are several pieces of it. First of all, in terms of delaying or withholding Ukrainian aid. Listen, the president has been skeptical of all sorts of foreign aid. So he's been holding back foreign aid from a lot of countries. He's much more skeptical than Congress. And when it comes to Ukraine aid, by the way, I was vigorously skeptical of President Obama who was unwilling to provide lethal offensive weapons for Ukraine to defend itself against Russia. And I advocated for Obama to do it, I advocated for Trump to do it. And in fact, again, going on substance to Ukraine and Russia, just a few weeks ago, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed my legislation to sanction the company's building Nord Stream to, the pipeline from Russia to Germany, natural gas pipeline that skips Ukraine. That bill that I introduced past the foreign relations committee by a vote of 20 to two, an overwhelming bipartisan legislation that will hurt Russia and help Europe.

On the rest of it. Listen, Rudy-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait, so wait, just stop there. So you believe that your interpretation of his sudden halt on this money, which everyone agreed on, this was not a controversial thing, was because of a skepticism about all foreign aid or Ukraine?

SEN. TED CRUZ: So here's where you said it's an established fact. I think you said established fact that precisely one week before he personally ordered it. I don't know that that's established. Look all sorts of things ... that's actually what an investigation would figure out. So at this point-

CHRIS HAYES: Well yeah. And with the extent that it's not established, we should establish it.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I have heard that alleged on Twitter, that's different from being an established fact. Rudy Giuliani, with regards to what Rudy said to anyone, I have no idea. And you're going to have to ask Rudy that.

CHRIS HAYES: That's a safe position to take with respect to Rudy Giuliani.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I'm just saying, that one you're going to have to ask him.

CHRIS HAYES: But he is acting on the president's behalf. And it is a little weird and not great to have him running around doing that.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, and listen, Rudy says he was coordinating with the state department. I don't know what the facts are. I think that's perfectly legitimate to investigate, figure out what the facts are. In terms of the Department of Justice, so you said he asked to talk to the Department of Justice on all of this. I don't think it's clear from the transcript it is on all of this. And I will say-

CHRIS HAYES: No, he says Barr, though. He says, "Talk to Barr."

SEN. TED CRUZ: He says, "Tall to Barr." So I will say having been in many conversations with Donald Trump, you'll be sitting there and the topics can vary very quickly. And you'll be sitting there and he'll say, "Hey, talk to so-and-so on this." And it's not like he's got a list of, "Here are the four people that are executing." As he thinks of something, he'll say, "Oh, talk to so-and-so."

SEN. TED CRUZ: And so I know the Department of Justice has put out a statement that Barr said he's never had a conversation with Trump about Ukraine. He's never had any conversation with Ukraine. And so they've been unequivocal-

CHRIS HAYES: They denied, yes.

SEN. TED CRUZ: ... that in so far as Ukraine, they were not involved.


SEN. TED CRUZ: I find that entirely plausible. That having been in enough conversations with the president, he'll mention particularly, he's talking about election interference. He knows the Department of Justice has an investigation into that. I think it's a fairly natural thing to say, "Talk to Barr because DOJ is leading that investigation." You can build up all sorts of inferences. And I think we should look and see what the facts are. But I also think what's driving the fury in the house is not the specific facts of this allegation. It was something else a month ago. It'll be something different in another month. And it is that they cannot stand Donald Trump and they want him removed. And I get that they don't like-

CHRIS HAYES: Are those people applauding that sentiment or the description?

SEN. TED CRUZ: But look, elections, I believe in the democratic process. And I think, I do not think we should be subverting the result of a democratic election. If you don't like Donald Trump, go out and campaign to win in 2020.

CHRIS HAYES: I mean, the thing to say about that is the house couldn't impeach Donald Trump if they didn't win the 2018 election.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Sure. No, no, no. They, I mean, they have the power to do so-

CHRIS HAYES: In fact, when you came in in 2013, right, I mean the big shutdown that happened, right, when you first came in, was the combination of the house having the power it had. Because elections don't stop after 2008, there's a Republican house in 2008-

SEN. TED CRUZ: But Chris, very clear. So I was elected in 2013, I served four years when Barack Obama ... I was elected in 2012, came in, in 2013. I served four years with Barack Obama as president. I disagreed with President Obama on a lot of issues. I didn't call for his impeachment. I didn't think he should be impeached just because I disagreed with him-


SEN. TED CRUZ: ... the remedy if someone is implementing bad policies and I think the policies under Obama did enormous harm. The remedy is to go and win an election, which in 2016 the Republicans did win an election. That's how our democratic process works-

CHRIS HAYES: I will say, yeah-

SEN. TED CRUZ: And let me just make a final point, just not to lose sight of, because I know we're running out of time.


SEN. TED CRUZ: If you set aside all of the crazy circus. Because I'll say there's a disconnect. In Washington every question this week is, "Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine." And I-

CHRIS HAYES: We did 10 minutes on it.

SEN. TED CRUZ: I congratulate you for not starting there. I'm glad we talked substance. I can tell you outside of Washington, what I hear from people in Texas they care about, is they care about jobs. They care about their family, they care about their kids-

CHRIS HAYES: Healthcare.

SEN. TED CRUZ: They care about health care, absolutely. Healthcare premiums under Obamacare have skyrocketed and people can't afford health insurance under Obamacare. By the way, his thing doesn't solve the fact that the average family's premiums have risen over $5,000 a year. But here are some facts. We have today, the lowest unemployment in 50 years. We've got the lowest African American unemployment that has ever been recorded in the history of our country. We have the lowest Hispanic unemployment that has ever been recorded. We have 6 million people who have come off of food stamps. We have the lowest African American poverty ever recorded in the history of the country. Have the lowest Hispanic poverty ever recorded in the history of the country.

And so at least some of the discussion, even if politically you're angry and worked up, I think some of the discussion ought to be, look, people's lives are being benefited by having good jobs. By the way, incomes are rising in the number one state in the country for income increases is the state of Texas. People's lives are being made better by economic prosperity. And that is my number one priority.

CHRIS HAYES: Let me say this, economic growth is great. We've started to see a little bit of movement on the wages, although there's still, that's still been a lagging indicator I think because of the structural power that labor has. But I don't disagree that I think tight labor markets and economic growth are great. I think they do great things. They bring people off the sidelines. I would like to see that continue. I happen to think that if you look at the trend line from Barack Obama in terms of job growth, it goes straight. There were more jobs created under Barack Obama's first three years than there have been in the same amount of time. That's just the facts.

But that said, I would like to see the economy go along at this pace for as long as possible. I hope we don't have a recession. I hope the fed is accommodating in policy, which is something that Donald Trump and I agree about. And it was great to talk to you, Senator Ted Cruz. Thank you very much.

SEN. TED CRUZ: Thank you Chris, I enjoyed this.

CHRIS HAYES: Thank you, everybody. Thanks to Senator Ted Cruz and his staff for for agreeing to do this conversation, credit to them for agreeing to do it. And you know, it was an hour with just me on stage. There's no, nothing out of bounds. No, you know, a real conversation. Not all politicians are willing to do that. In fact, it's a great frustration of mine that more aren't. So thank you to the Senator and to his staff for facilitating that.

Like I said, this was Live With Pod Number One of this fall. The next one's going to be coming up October 21st in Los Angeles. You can still get tickets. But Tiffany and I were checking today and the best available seats keep marching back in the auditorium, which suggests that they're going quickly and pretty soon you won't be able to get tickets. And I would love for the people to be there, to be people that are With Pod listeners and fans.

We love hearing from you guys. When you email us at or tweet us with the hashtag With Pod. We love the kind of conversation that we've established with you guys. I'd love to kind of meet some of you at this event. So I hope that we can come out in Los Angeles and we can all be a part of this together.

"Why Is This Happening?" is presented by MSNBC and NBC news produced by the "All In" team and features music by Eddie Cooper. You can see more of our work including links to things we mentioned here by going to