UPDATE : Cruz is returning to Texas, cutting his vacation in Cancun short
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • one week ago • 187 comments
By: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sinead Baker) 38 mins ago (MSN)
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is under fire after unverified images suggest that he left Texas on Wednesday.
- Claims circulated on Twitter that he had flown to Cancun. Cruz has yet to comment.
- Insider was not able to immediately verify the images, which prompted outrage all the same.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came under a barrage of criticism late Wednesday as unverified images circulated on Twitter appearing to show him taking a flight out of the storm-ravaged state.
Insider has been unable to immediately verify the images, and could not immediately reach Cruz or one of his representatives for comment. As of early Thursday, no media outlet had reported a response from Cruz.
Nonetheless, the images proved politically explosive. The Texas Democratic Party called for Cruz's resignation, accusing him of abandoning the state in a time of crisis.
Cancun, Mexico, Cruz's alleged destination, became a trending topic on Twitter as speculation mounted.
Insider could not unambiguously prove from the images where Cruz was. But here is what Insider could find, based on information circulating Thursday morning:
The images appear to have been first shared by Twitter user Juan Gomez, though it is not clear whether he took the pictures:
—Juan Gomez (@Juan_Gomez18) February 18, 2021
David Schuster, a former MSNBC journalist, later tweeted that he had "confirmed" that Cruz and his family had flown to Cancun on Wednesday night "for a few days at a resort they've visited before."
He did not give details about how he confirmed it, or with whom.
—David Shuster (@DavidShuster) February 18, 2021
Keith Edwards, a former advisor to Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff and who was previously involved with the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, posted other images which he said were sent to him by someone who saw Cruz on their flight to Cancun.
—Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) February 18, 2021
And he said he was sharing a picture of Cruz in the airport around 35 minutes before the flight to Cancun:
—Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) February 18, 2021
One Twitter user noted that one of the images showing the man appears to display the time in the background as 4:10 p.m.:
—Nesler (@thatnesler) February 18, 2021
San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT ran a story Wednesday night asking whether Cruz had gone to Cancun.
The outlet noted that United flight UA1020 departed Houston for Cancun at 4:44 p.m. - 34 minutes after the time shown in that picture.
Another unverified image claims to show Cruz after arrival:
—Simon Barnboym (@barnboym) February 18, 2021
The image shows a man wearing different clothes, but who appears to be wearing the same shoes as in previous pictures and with the same white bag with a yellow tag.
Beto O'Rourke, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Cruz for his Senate seat in 2018, gestured to the speculation on Thursday morning.
In an interview with MSNBC, O'Rourke attacked Cruz, describing him as "the junior Senator from Texas, who I understand is vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve."
—The Recount (@therecount) February 18, 2021
Insider has contacted the people who posted all of the above images seeking more information, but has not yet heard back.
Insider also checked the images in these tweets using the reverse image-search software TinEye, which can show whether images have been published before. The service did not find the images on other websites, suggesting that they are recent.
Cruz has a wife and two daughters. Some of the unverified photos show Cruz with a young girl with a similar appearance to one of his daughters, but no other people who resemble his family members.
Some Twitter users noted that the mask the man was wearing matches one that Cruz often wears:
—Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 18, 2021
And others claimed that the ring worn by the man in the picture looked to be the same as one Cruz has been pictured wearing:
—Jane Austen (@JaneAusten1813) February 18, 2021
Users also claimed that another unverified image showed Cruz in the airport's United lounge. It is not clear where the image originated or who took it.
—Gilly (@gillypearl) February 18, 2021
Cruz appears to have previously vacationed in Cancun. Page Six reported in January 2020 that Cruz was seen with his family at Nizuc Resort & Spa.
The images prompted a furious backlash, even without all the facts being clear.
—Texas Democrats (@texasdemocrats) February 18, 2021
Gene Wu, a Democratic Texas state representative, also tweeted criticism of Cruz based on the images, though he did not offer further evidence:
—Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) February 18, 2021
Sawyer Hackett, a senior advisor for Democrat Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, shared some images, writing: "It appears in the middle of the worst energy crisis in the history of Texas, @tedcruz is on his way to Cancun with his family."
—Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) February 18, 2021
Cruz's Twitter accounts do not give an indication of his location, and are instead retweeting updates about the storm or sharing other political updates.
On Wednesday, around the time he is alleged to have been traveling, Cruz's office released two press releases on his behalf - one attacking New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and another paying tribute to Rush Limbaugh.