Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE has told confidants he’s interested in serving as attorney general in the Trump administration, according to two sources familiar with the conversations.
Speculation that the Texas senator could become attorney general began Tuesday after Cruz met President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE and Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceReplace Kamala Harris with William Shatner to get kids excited about space exploration Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump Heritage Foundation names new president MORE at Trump Tower in Manhattan.
Cruz also wandered into the office of Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, for an impromptu meeting, according to a source close to Bannon.
Cruz may not be the front-runner for the job, which is a target for others in Trump’s orbit — including Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE (R-Ala.), an early supporter of the businessman. Cruz, in contrast, memorably fought with Trump while finishing second in the GOP primary.
The Trump transition team said in a statement Thursday that it had been “unbelievably impressed with Senator Sessions and his phenomenal record as Alabama’s attorney general and U.S. attorney.”
But Cruz is interested. He’s been deflecting questions in media interviews, but in private, the Texan has told several allies that he wants the job.
The Cruz Senate office declined to comment for this story.
Nominating Cruz to be the nation’s top lawyer could buy Trump more support from social conservatives while removing a potential rival from the Senate.
Cruz is anti-abortion constitutional conservative with deep support from influential conservative leaders.
“I have sent messages over to the transition that I am praying for a pro-life Attorney General and Secretary of HHS,” said Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America.
“If I were making a dream team of a presidential cabinet,” she added, “Ted Cruz would be the Attorney General.”
“You are prosecuting everything from government corruption to organized crime to drugs to bad actors like Planned Parenthood and others,” she said, highlighting the importance of the role.
Brent Bozell, a conservative leader with close ties to Cruz and the pro-Trump Mercer mega-donor family, said Trump’s consideration of Cruz suggests he’s willing to consider talented people despite political rivalries. He also suggested it could help unify Republicans.
“It would be a way of really tightening up relations with the Never Trumpers,” he added. “It would be a strong move.”
Bozell said he would love to see Cruz as the nation’s top law officer.
“Ted Cruz would return integrity to that position, which is one of the most damaged offices as a victim of Obama’s politics,” he said. “Ted Cruz is perhaps more qualified than anyone in America.”
Cruz declined an opportunity Thursday to shut down speculation about taking a spot in Trump’s cabinet.
In a "Fox & Friends" interview Cruz was asked whether he was looking forward to working with Trump in his capacity as a U.S. senator or as part of the administration.
“Well, listen, I have an incredible job right now representing 27 million Texans,” he replied. “I’m incredibly honored to hold that job, and it’s a job I take very very seriously.
“I’m eager to work with the new president in whatever capacity I can have the greatest impact,” he added, “defending the principles that I was elected to defend…”
The Fox team pressed again, asking Cruz whether the idea of him becoming Attorney General was at least raised during his visit to Trump Tower.
Cruz evaded again.
“We had a far-reaching conversation,” he said, “and it was a good opportunity to talk about the election, about the challenges facing the country, and I’ll tell you really the heart of what we talked about is how we actually solve those challenges, how we get it done.”
Cruz is playing coy about his future. If he stays in the Senate he will likely run for reelection in 2018. He might face a primary challenge from a well-funded opponent.
There has been speculation that Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) could challenge him. Though complicating that scenario is the news that McCaul is himself pushing to become a member of Trump’s cabinet. He told Politico earlier this week that he’d expressed interest in becoming Homeland Security secretary.
Cruz and Trump became bitter opponents during the Republican primaries.
In the later stages of the contest their feud got personal. It culminated in Trump attacking Cruz’s wife’s looks and suggesting the Texan’s father had a role in the assassination of JFK.
Cruz in response described Trump as a “serial philanderer,” “pathological liar” and a “narcissist.” The tension peaked at the Republican National Convention in July, when Cruz got booed off the stage after refusing to endorse Trump.
Cruz eventually changed his mind and endorsed Trump. In the final days of the general election he campaigned on Trump’s behalf. Since then, he’s praised and defended the president-elect; though sources close to both Trump and Cruz say the two will probably never be close.
A source close to Cruz said he worries about all the things Cruz will be giving up if he is offered the job and decides to take it.
“Trump has shown his ability to flip around on issues and promises and to discard people he was once close allies with,” the source said. “This could happen with Cruz and then he’d have no Senate seat and no administration perch.”