Key moments where Ted Cruz tried to steal the 2016 nomination and spotlight away from Donald Trump

Sen. Ted Cruz surveys the sea of delegates surrounding him all sides as he addressed the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sen. Ted Cruz spoke on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Ted Cruz and Donald Trump haven’t always been as chummy as they are now.
  • A bungled handshake during the 2016 campaigns marred Cruz’s initial attempt to subvert Trump.
  • Trump later worked up the crowd at the Republican National Convention, generating boos for Cruz.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ted Cruz’s road to ruin in the 2016 GOP presidential race was littered with missteps, including a poorly choreographed self-own and a prime time ambush by then-rival Donald Trump during a key Republican gathering.

Cruz relived the jarring experiences as part of Insider’s exhaustive oral history of Trump’s takeover of the Republican party, breaking down the most iconic events during a series of interviews on Capitol Hill.

The Republican senator from Texas survived the brutal multi-candidate debates and managed to string together some early primary wins. But by spring 2016 he was scrambling to derail Trump’s seemingly unstoppable campaign.

Read more: The definitive oral history of how Trump took over the GOP, as told to us by Cruz, Rubio, and 20 more insiders

His solution: an unprecedented attempt at naming fellow Republican contender Carly Fiorina his vice presidential running mate even though first-timer Trump was running away with the nomination.

Cruz figured he and Fiorina could project a strong, principled, united front.

Unless, of course, they did something crazy like bungle a simple handshake that will live on in the internet as a cringe-worthy gif.

“We freaking practiced it, and they still screwed it up,” then-Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said of the awkward moment Cruz and Fiorina got knotted up in Indianapolis while trying to join hands.

Today Cruz laughs that off, describing the gaffe as something that “makes for an amusing video after the fact.”

Cruz’s ‘vote your conscience’ RNC speech

Things got rawer while recounting the time Trump, who’d clinched the GOP nomination, turned Republican National Convention attendees against him on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cruz had prepared a “vote your conscience” speech he said was designed to unite conservatives – even though he hadn’t yet endorsed Trump.

“What I said in the speech is vote for candidates who you trust to defend freedom and to defend the Constitution,” Cruz told Insider. “And that is very much what I hoped Donald Trump would do. At the time I didn’t know if he would or not. There were reasons to have concerns. I did have concern.”

Rick Gates, Trump’s then-deputy campaign manager, told Insider Cruz was given the greenlight to say his piece. But then the man who’d formally accept the GOP nomination the next night decided to steal the spotlight from his rival.

“We have Trump in a holding room, and he’s watching the proceedings on TV,” Gates said. “He asked me where the rest of the family is. We had a family box, which we called the VIP box, in the corner of the convention center, looking directly onto the stage. Trump said: ‘We’ll check it out. Let’s go.'”

Trump ventured out into a corner of the arena to loud cheers of support, surprising Cruz. “I didn’t know it was coming,” the Texas senator said. “I had no idea. It didn’t occur to me that that would be the campaign’s reaction. Given that, for any nominee, the objective typically is to unify the party and win in November.”

Amanda Carpenter, a former Cruz aide who had left his campaign by the RNC, told Insider she was uncomfortable watching the sequence of events. “I just remember how loud the boos were,” she said. “And how I was worried for Heidi, watching her just kind of whisked out.”

For his part, Cruz five years later still defends his remarks.

“If you look at what I said in the speech, the words were virtually identical to what Ted Kennedy said about Jimmy Carter and to what Ronald Reagan said about Gerald Ford,” he said. “Neither one of them, at their respective conventions, endorsed the nominee. And the reason I know it was identical is I had both of those speeches in front of me when I was writing it and very deliberately used the same language.”

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GOP Gov. Greg Abbott says drive-thru voting could lead to ‘coercive’ passengers, defends Texas voting restrictions

Greg Abbott texas bar close order
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday defended the proposed GOP-led Texas voting restrictions.
  • On “Fox News Sunday,” Abbott told Chris Wallace that the legislation would not suppress voters of color.
  • Abbott took aim at drive-thru voting, decrying a possible “coercive effect” from passengers.
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GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Sunday contended that drive-thru voting, which was a popular method of voting in the 2020 election, could potentially allow passengers to have a “coercive effect” on voters.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace questioned Abbott about the need for the restrictive voting bill up for debate in the current Texas special legislation session and asked if the law would suppress minority voters.

“More than half of the voters who showed up [for these voting options] were people of color. You say you want to make it easier to vote. That’s going to make it harder to vote, and the question is, why make it harder for some Texans to vote unless the point is to suppress voting by people of color?” he asked Abbott.

Abbott argued that counties needed to have policies in place to protect the integrity of their ballots.

“If you do drive-thru voting, are you going to have people in the car with you? It could be somebody from your employer or somebody else that may have some coercive effect on the way that you would cast your ballot, which is contrary to you going into the ballot box, alone and no one there watching over your shoulder,” he said.

Read more: 20 sought-after female political strategists to watch as more women in the US enter politics

Abbott said that populous Harris County, which tested drive-thru voting in a primary runoff election last year before expanding it to the general election, lacked the authority to “create its own election system.”

“With regard to the drive-thru voting, this violates the fundamentals of what – the way that voting integrity has always been achieved and that is the sanctity of the ballot box,” he said.

Harris County is anchored by Houston, a longtime Democratic stronghold.

Wallace also questioned the GOP-led push to halt 24-hour voting centers, which was popular with shift workers who work nontraditional hours.

“If 24-hour voting worked, why not continue it?” Wallace asked.

“We are providing more hours per day for voting to make sure that anybody with any type of background, any type of working situation is going to have the opportunity to go vote,” Abbott said.

The proposed Texas voting law would bar officials from permitting 24-hour voting centers during early voting and would make it a felony for election officials to send unsolicited vote-by-mail applications to voters, among other measures.

Texas Democratic lawmakers are reportedly mulling over whether to leave the state to block the election overhaul from passing, according to The New York Times.

The lawmakers who support leaving the state have argued that the action “would bring a renewed spotlight to voting rights in Texas” and put pressure on Democrats in the US Senate to enact federal voting reforms, according to several Democratic lawmakers who spoke with The Times.

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The Trump team was anxious about a ‘delay’ with the Wisconsin election results, but they had the time zones wrong: book

GettyImages donald trump
President Donald Trump speaks on election night the White House in the early morning hours of November 04, 2020.

  • Trump waited earnestly for updated results from Wisconsin on election night, per a forthcoming book.
  • White House attendees thought there was a “delay” in the election results from the Midwestern state.
  • The campaign didn’t account for the time zone difference, with Wisconsin being an hour behind eastern time.
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In the early hours of November 4, after one of the most tumultuous presidential elections in US history, then-President Donald Trump rattled off the states that were called in his favor, which included the key electoral prizes of Florida, Ohio, and Texas.

He was optimistic about his chances in swing states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, highlighting election day vote leads that he felt would endure.

However, in a nationally-televised White House speech that he envisioned as a rousing victory message, Trump alleged voter fraud and vowed to go to the Supreme Court to “stop” the counting of additional ballots.

After the speech was over, the president walked into the Map Room, with family members and a tight circle of advisors that soon followed, according to a forthcoming book by Michael Wolff.

It was almost 3:30 a.m., and the campaign began to look hard at Wisconsin, a swing state that Trump narrowly won in 2016 and hoped to put back in his column in 2020.

Trump and then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had been competitive in the Badger State all night, but the president hoped to put the race away with updated numbers from a 3:30 a.m. data release.

The campaign team wanted the new Wisconsin numbers to provide them with some momentum, but the unfolding situation only left them frustrated, which Wolff describes in “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency.”

At 3:30 a.m. eastern time, Wisconsin did not report any updated figures.

“Everybody waited, without much to say, anxiety ramping up, the president muttering: Why the delay? What was happening? Had they stopped counting? What was going on?” Wolff wrote.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, insisted that the “delay” confirmed his suspicions of electoral wrongdoing.

“They now knew how many Biden votes they needed to offset Trump votes, and they were producing them! That’s what the delay was about,” Wolff wrote in describing Giuliani’s line of thinking.

Trump stuck around for twenty minutes, but eventually became “agitated” and “angry” by the situation before heading to the White House Residence.

Election lawyer Matt Morgan, who was in the Map Room for much of the night, left the White House at 4 a.m.

As Morgan drove home, he realized that Wisconsin is in the central time zone, meaning it was an hour behind the East Coast.

The so-called “delay” was actually a failure to account for the time zone difference, and the updated data was released that morning.

Biden went on to defeat Trump in Wisconsin by roughly 20,000 votes out of nearly 3.3 million ballots cast.

Milwaukee County, the state’s most populous jurisdiction and a longtime Democratic stronghold, gave Biden a hefty 183,000-vote margin over Trump, ensuring his victory in the Midwestern presidential battleground.

The Trump campaign, which questioned the results, last year spent $3 million on recounts in Milwaukee County and Dane County, another Democratic stronghold, only to see Biden pick up 132 votes in Milwaukee.

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‘I didn’t come here to kiss your f—ing ring’: Sidney Powell ripped into Rudy Giuliani after clash over election theories, book says

sidney powell trump giuliani election
Sidney Powell participates in a news conference with Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on November 19, 2020.

  • Sidney Powell clashed early on with Giuliani as part of Trump’s campaign legal team, per a new book.
  • “I didn’t come here to kiss your f—ing ring,” she reportedly told the former New York City mayor.
  • Powell later saw herself cast aside and then brought back into the Trump orbit.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

As Sidney Powell, a former assistant US attorney, became one of the faces of then-President Donald Trump’s campaign legal team, tension unfolded with Rudy Giuliani last November, according to a forthcoming book by Michael Wolff.

During an outburst, Giuliani, who served as Trump’s personal lawyer and has backed up many of the former president’s debunked election claims, reportedly described Powell as “crazy.”

After Giuliani questioned some of Powell’s most bizarre election theories, she snapped back at the former New York City mayor.

“I didn’t come here to kiss your f—ing ring,” she reportedly said.

Wolff detailed the showdown in “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.

The book goes on to describe how Powell and Giuliani went into separate rooms as Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis sought out the former president to resolve the situation.

“The two of them [Powell and Giuliani] ended up in separate rooms sulking, with Ellis calling the president to moderate,” the book said. “The president made clear that he wanted Powell on the team. He was embracing everybody (or anybody) who agreed that the election had been stolen from him.”

As Powell became more entrenched within the Trump orbit, her conspiracy theories were amplified on a much larger scale.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

“In the days immediately following the election, she was the author on Fox of operatic new conspiracies, going much further out than anything the president had yet reached: computer systems had been programmed to switch Trump votes to Biden votes, with the CIA in on it. Now she had been telling Giuliani and the team that the conspiracy ran even deeper: Trump’s landslide victory was upended by an international plot,” the book said.

In media appearances, Powell falsely claimed that Dominion Voting Systems had tilted the US presidential election in favor of now-President Joe Biden. She alleged – without evidence – that Dominion secretly aided a rival election-technology company, Smartmatic, and had links to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Over time, the damage from her unsubstantiated accusations had taken a serious toll.

In late November, Giuliani and Ellis announced that Powell was “practicing law on her own” after being purged from the campaign team.

However, just weeks later, The New York Times reported that Trump was considering naming Powell as a special counsel investigating voter fraud.

According to The Times, most of Trump’s advisors didn’t support the plan, including Giuliani.

Powell currently faces a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion over her debunked election claims; Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell are also being sued by the election technology supplier.

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Colorado’s top elections official calls out lies, ‘blatant abuse,’ and voter suppression being used by GOP officials ‘a tool to steal future elections’

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold makes a point during a news conference about the the state's efforts to protect the process of casting a vote in the general election Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in downtown Denver.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold makes a point during a news conference about the the state’s efforts to protect the process of casting a vote in the general election Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in downtown Denver.

  • For nearly a decade, Colorado has automatically mailed a ballot to every registered voter.
  • Officials boast that the system is a “gold standard” for administering elections.
  • But after 2020, the bipartisan consensus has begun to erode.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jena Griswold was 34 years old when, in her first run for office back in 2018, she defeated a Republican incumbent to become the top elections official in Colorado, the first Democrat to hold the position in six decades and the youngest secretary of state in the nation.

Two years later, Griswold helped administer a presidential election – in a place where all voters receive a ballot in the mail – that state and national officials deemed “the most secure in American history.”

Joe Biden won Colorado by more than 439,000 votes and, with it, the presidency. But the groundwork for discrediting his victory had been laid months before. When voters made their choice, the lying hit a fever pitch: about widespread fraud; about fake ballots, maybe from China, being added to the tally in the middle of the night; about officials, left and right, rigging the vote against an incumbent.

In an interview, Griswold said she now fears for her safety.

“I’m not alone in that,” she said. Across the country, “Democratic secretaries of state have received all types of death threats.” Republicans, too.

In Arizona, Katie Hobbs, that state’s Democratic elections official, was recently provided a state security detail after being threatened over her criticism of the partisan “audit” taking place in Maricopa County, where a private third party, Cyber Ninjas, has been given free rein by the GOP-led state senate over 2.1 million ballots – a majority of them cast for President Biden – in an apparent effort, dismissed by a bipartisan group of experts as not credible, to fit the facts to the pro-Trump conspiracy theories.

Griswold is part of a bipartisan group of elections officials urging Congress to provide billions of dollars to shore up state and local voting infrastructure (“elections cost money”). But the biggest threat to the security of democracy, she said, is something else: disinformation.

In 2016, the Russian government worked to tilt the election in Donald Trump’s favor, as well as to sow doubt about the integrity of any vote he lost. It did so again in 2020.

But stateside, “elected officials really embraced the use of lies to try to manipulate Americans voters,” Griswold said.

“The lies are creating violence. The lies are creating threats,” she said. It is those elected officials, more than any foreign adversary, that she sees as threatening the integrity of the US political system. The push for “fraudulent audits,” in Arizona and elsewhere, is to Griswold perhaps the most glaring example of officials who know better engaging in bad faith to better position themselves for the next GOP primary.

“The blatant abuse of political seats for these elected officials’ personal gain is incredibly dangerous to our democracy, but also to election workers,” she said. “That is, hands down, my number one concern.”

It has included misleading the public over the very right to vote. In Georgia, when Republicans passed a new elections law that requires mail-in voters to provide an ID every time they cast a ballot – citing the need to address fraud that was never uncovered – they pointed to Colorado as if it were a model they were following. But Colorado only requires proof of identification once, at registration, the standard Republicans embraced in the early 2000s, and it accepts utility bills, not just government forms of ID. And, as of 2019, residents are now automatically registered to vote anytime they get a driver’s license.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous to compare Colorado’s gold-standard voter model to Georgia’s voter suppression model,” Griswold told Insider. Even before the new restrictions, some voters in Georgia, particularly in urban areas, could expect to wait hours in line; in Colorado, the average wait time is seven minutes – and there’s no prohibition on giving them water.

But false claims of voter fraud are being used around the country to impose such new restrictions. The threat to democracy, again, is coming from within.

“What we’re seeing is insider political actors use voter suppression as a tool to steal future elections,” Griswold said. “And that is the most un-American and corrupting thing you can do.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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4 takeaways from New York City’s attempt to use ranked-choice voting to pick its next crop of politicians

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams points his right finger in the air outside of his Brooklyn campaign office in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
New York City Democratic Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams.

  • This past June, New York City became the largest city to use ranked choice voting.
  • The Board of Elections messed up on messaging and tabulation, but in the end the system worked.
  • While the mayor race was a fiasco, ranked choice was huge for contentious city council races.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ranked-choice voting worked as intended, but its New York City debut didn’t go off without a few hitches.

Ranked-choice voting is a type of ballot that asks voters to list their choices – In New York’s case, five – in their order of preference. When the votes are in, the lowest-ranked candidate has their ballots reallocated to their voters’ second choices, and then so on and so forth until someone breaks 50%. This means a second runoff election is unnecessary – the runoff is done instantly – and that the winner with the broadest support eventually wins.

For the 2021 mayor race, Democrats had a long list of options, but the most popular candidates were Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang, Scott Stringer, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, and Shaun Donovan.

Some voters may have found themselves doing more homework than they anticipated ahead of filling out their five choices for mayor in the Democratic primary. Still, the elimination system worked exactly as it was supposed to once it became clear no one would finish the first round as an outright winner with at least 50% of the vote.

The real drama and chaos that came with counting the votes was solely the result of an underprepared City Board of Elections, not an inherent feature of the ranked-choice systemGotham voters approved in 2019.

1. Ranked-choice worked, but in the process illustrated how divided New York City’s Democratic voters are

At a rather unprecedented scale in American politics, ranked-choice voting showed how a divided party could choose a candidate if enough voters indicated they could at least live with their second, third, fourth, or fifth choice.

Of the approximately 937,000 votes cast, only 139,459 ballots became “exhausted” by the final round, meaning that only about 15% of voters did not rank either of the final two contenders – former NYPD officer currently serving as Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams and former City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

Ranked-choice voting also had nothing to do with the lackluster showing among further left candidates in the race. Voters were left split after City Comptroller Scott Stringer locked up most of the key progressive endorsements early on, only to have his campaign sink to fifth place.

It was Stringer’s lack of charisma, unoriginal messaging, and a pair of sexual assault allegations – both of which he denies – that sunk his campaign. Stringer’s demise left the progressive wing of the party adrift with minimal options, and it was far too late in the cycle to effectively consolidate around any of them, despite a strong late push from Maya Wiley.

Andrew Yang walks past his reflection in a window.
Former New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.

2. Some candidates eventually played strategically, but probably too late in the game. They’ll be better next time

Key to Garcia making it until the final round was a gamble she took late in the campaign by appearing at events with Andrew Yang, who finished in fourth.

Garcia had won a critical endorsement from The New York Times editorial board but was still running in third place through most of the early rounds. Once Yang was out of the race, enough of his voters ranked Garcia second that she was able to vault over Wiley and compete with Adams for the top spot, ultimately falling fewer than 10,000 votes short.

While the Yang campaign did actively strategize around ranked-choice voting to some extent – whether through a big gamble like the Garcia quasi-alliance or by playing pickup basketball with 11th place finisher Paperboy Prince – most of the campaign strategy ended up being more conventional.

Garcia wouldn’t even fully commit to a true alliance with Yang, and no other candidates experimented with joint campaigning beside them.

The next time around, if there’s a full campaign calendar instead of months of Zoom forums, mid-to-lower-tier campaigns may embrace forming alliances and coalitions as a low-risk, high-reward strategy.

Bill de Blasio

3. Ranked-choice didn’t upend the fundamentals of elected politics in New York, but did stave off a costly, laborious runoff

Adams won the primary by executing on his campaign’s simple but effective formula of winning as many labor endorsements as possible and shoring up a base of outer-borough Black voters, particularly homeowners and union members.

His coalition was similar to the one that vaulted outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio over the finish line in 2013, ceding ground in Manhattan and gentrified Brooklyn while running up the score among predominately Black precincts in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Ranked-choice voting didn’t change the fact that a relatively small slice of New York’s overall population will have an effective say in their mayor, given Democrats outnumbering Republicans by around seven to one in registrations.

However, Adams avoided what would have been a costly runoff under the old system, saving not only his own campaign’s money, but also matching funds from the city and other outlays to produce another voting day before Election Day in November.

In 2013, de Blasio won the primary and, by extension, the de facto claim to the mayor’s office with just 260,473 votes. Adams only got around 253,000 from the first round of voting. Now, he can securely claim the mantle of his party, having secured over half the vote when all was said and done, not a mere plurality.

Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia enters a debate, backed by supporters.
Democratic New York City mayoral candidate and former NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

4. Ranked-choice really shines down ballot

Besides the top-tier races, the ranked-choice system absolutely bears out looking down ballot.

Take, for instance, the open City Council district in Queens’ 26th District. There are fifteen contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 26th, all of whom have similar, though not identical, politics.

Looking at just the first-round results, in a first-past-the-post system, Julie Won, winner of the primary, would have done so with just 18.5% of the vote, less than a percentage point above her nearest rival, Amit S. Bagga. Just over 3,300 people would have selected the winner of a district representing over 161,000 people.

Thanks to the ranked-choice system, after a dozen rounds of reallocating votes, Won remains the victor, but can now claim the seat with a decisive 56% of the vote, beating Bagga by over 13 percentage points. A complicated, complex field simplified with a single trip to the ballot box.

The rollout of ranked-choice voting may have been a hassle and unnecessarily stressful in the counting process, but everywhere else, it found a winner in precisely the way voters said they wanted it to back when they passed it in 2019.

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Ted Cruz mulls 2024 presidential bid, says his 2016 campaign ‘was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life’

ted cruz
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) heads to a vote on the Senate floor on June 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz said he’s “certainly looking” at a 2024 presidential bid.
  • “I’ll tell you, 2016 was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” he told Newsmax on Thursday.
  • Cruz lost the 2016 GOP presidential nomination to then-candidate Donald Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said he’s thinking about a 2024 bid for the White House in an interview on Thursday evening.

“Well, sure, I’m certainly looking at it,” Cruz said during an appearance on Newsmax.

“I’ll tell you, 2016 was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” he continued, reflecting on his last presidential campaign.

The Texas senator was the first candidate to run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, eventually facing a crowded field of 17 opponents, including real estate mogul and celebrity Donald Trump.

Cruz had held a strong position in the primary elections, yet Trump repeatedly garnered the most Republican support as the frontrunner. Cruz dropped out of the race in May after he lost the Indiana primary to Trump.

“We came incredibly close, had an incredible grassroots army,” Cruz told Newsmax.

At the time, Cruz refused to endorse Trump once he became the presumptive GOP nominee. The two bitterly feuded for months on the campaign trail, infamously attacking each other’s wives and lobbing insults at one another.

“It’s not easy to tick me off. I don’t get angry often, but if you mess with my wife, if you mess with my kids, that will do it every time,” Cruz told reporters after Trump tweeted a photo mocking Cruz’s wife. “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.”

Over the past four years, the two have become allies. Cruz was one of the many GOP officials that perpetuated Trump’s lies that the 2020 race was rigged. The Republican lawmaker also led the challenge to the election results in the Senate.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle later blasted Cruz’s efforts to discredit the election results. GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has said that the move should be a “disqualifying” factor in the 2024 race.

Should Cruz run in 2024, Trump could become his opponent yet again, as the former president has left open the possibility of launching his third presidential campaign.

Cruz told Newsmax that his focus right now is on the battle for the Senate in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.

“Whether it is in the Senate, or whether it is in a presidential campaign, I’m committed to fighting to defend free enterprise, to defend freedom, and to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” he said.

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GOP-led Michigan committee found ‘no evidence’ of voter fraud in 2020 election, further discrediting Trump’s false claims

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President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani listens to Detroit poll worker Jessi Jacobs during an appearance before the Michigan House Oversight Committee on December 2, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan.

  • A GOP-led Michigan Senate committee found “no evidence” of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Trump had attempted to overturn Michigan’s election results.
  • The investigation comes as Trump continues to falsely claims the election was stolen from him.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An investigation by the Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee found no proof of widespread voter fraud in the state’s 2020 election, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s false claims.

“The Committee embarked upon hours of public testimony, the review of countless documents and presentations on the 2020 election, and careful review of the elections process itself,” the 35-page report released Wednesday said. “This Committee found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.”

GOP state Sen. Ed McBroom, who chairs the committee, wrote in the report that he is “confident” the election results in Michigan, which President Joe Biden won by nearly 3 percentage points, are accurate.

McBroom also appeared to take a swipe at Trump, who repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that the election was fraught with voter fraud and rigged against him. In Michigan, Trump and his allies filed at least half a dozen lawsuits in an attempt to overturn the election results. They lost all of them.

“Sources must lose credibility when it is shown they promote falsehoods, even more when they never take accountability for those falsehoods,” McBroom wrote.

The Michigan Senate committee recommended that Michiganders “use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.” It also called on the state attorney general to investigate those who promoted false claims.

The investigation comes nearly eight months after the 2020 race and as Trump continues to baselessly assert that the election was stolen from him. Federal, state, and local officials have repeatedly concluded that the election was fair and accurate.

The report also comes after a Michigan judge last month tossed out a Trump-endorsed lawsuit seeking to audit and recount votes in the state’s Antrim County. Trump won the county, but has claimed without evidence that he received more votes that were switched to favor Biden.

This conspiracy theory seems to stem from a case of human error on election night. At the time, the county’s unofficial election results initially showed Biden in the lead. Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, a Republican, moved to rectify the issue and after multiple checks, the county went to Trump. The county also audited the results in December, affirming Trump’s win over Biden.

“All compelling theories that sprang forth from the rumors surrounding Antrim County are diminished so significantly as for it to be a complete waste of time to consider them further,” McBroom wrote in the report.

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Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency in a vote with low turnout, calls for a boycott

PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT PHOTO PROVIDED BY IRANIAN PRESIDENCY OFFICE.
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, left, speaks with the media after his meeting with President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, right, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

  • Initial results showed hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest.
  • Raisi dominated only after a panel under watch by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified strong competition.
  • Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott of the vote.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won the country’s presidential election in a landslide victory Saturday, propelling the supreme leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position in a vote that appeared to see the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Initial results showed Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest, dwarfing those of the race’s sole moderate candidate. However, Raisi dominated the election only after a panel under the watch of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified his strongest competition.

His candidacy, and the sense the election served more as a coronation for him, sparked widespread apathy among eligible voters in the Islamic Republic, which has held up turnout as a sign of support for the theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott.

In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.

“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

Raisi’s blowout win came amid boycott calls and widespread voter apathy

The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country – as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2 a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.

But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the US government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary – one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the US and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades – the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell falsely claims Trump will be ‘our real president’ in 6 months

Mike Lindell
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House on January 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Mike Lindell continues to push the conspiracy theory that Trump will be reinstated as president.
  • In a new interview with the Rolling Stone, he said Trump will be president in six months.
  • He initially said that Trump will take back the White House in August.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in a new interview pushed back the date for when he believes former President Donald Trump will be reinstated as president.

“Six months from now, Trump will be our real president and our country will be heading toward its greatest rebirth in history,” Lindell told the Rolling Stone in a report published Monday.

The comments come after Lindell promoted a conspiracy theory that the Supreme Court will put Trump back in the White House by August. By then, Lindell previously said, he will have obtained evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election to present to the nation’s highest court, which will delegitimize President Joe Biden’s win.

Now, it appears Lindell needs until December to do so.

Lindell told the Rolling Stone that the total amount of voter fraud will be confirmed once all 50 states carry out election audits, similar to the current GOP-led audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County, where Biden won.

Lindell first spread the conspiracy theory, which has gained traction in far-right circles, on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast in March.

“What I’m talking about, Steve, is what I have been doing since January 9. All of the evidence I have, everything that is going to go before the Supreme Court, and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye,” Lindell said at the time.

To be clear, the conspiracy theory has no constitutional basis, as Insider has previously reported. The Supreme Court is not able to overturn a presidential election. The only way to remove a sitting president is through impeachment. And in any case, the vice president would then take over.

It’s been more than seven months since the 2020 race and there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Federal, state, and local election officials have repeatedly pushed back on the false claims spread by Trump and his allies. The Trump campaign filed and lost dozens of lawsuits in an attempt to challenge the results.

Lindell, however, still contends that the race was stolen from Trump, specifically by 20 million votes, he told The Rolling Stone. The MyPillow founder is currently being sued for $1.3 billion by the voting-technology company Dominion for repeatedly asserting the company rigged the election.

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