On the eve of the Jan. 6 anniversary, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called the riot "a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol," drawing the ire of several Republican pundits, including Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson.
"Of all the things that Jan. 6 was, it was definitely not a violent terrorist attack," Carlson said Wednesday night. "It wasn't an insurrection. Was it a riot? Sure. It was not a violent terrorist attack — sorry!"
Carlson called the arrest of the perpetrators a "purge."
The Texas senator called Jan. 6 "an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol, where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage."
"Anyone who commits an act of violence should be prosecuted, and anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer should go to jail for a very long time," Cruz added.
In response to Cruz, Sebastian Gorka, who was a deputy assistant to former President Donald Trump, stated on Twitter, "I'm so done with Ted Cruz."
Gorka is currently fighting a subpoena for his phone records that was filed by the House select committee that's investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Among Democrats, some welcomed Cruz's remarks, even as they called it hypocritical for him to seek the moral high ground after voting against certifying the 2020 election results that cemented Joe Biden's defeat of Trump.
Immediately after Cruz spoke, Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat from California, said that he appreciated Cruz's recognition of the attack, which he called a deadly assault on the U.S. political process.
"We should also agree on a bipartisan basis to ask some questions: Was it organic and spontaneous, or was it organized and premeditated?" Padilla asked, noting that Republicans in the Senate had quashed attempts to establish a bipartisan panel to investigate those questions.
Karl Rove, another prominent Republican, wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal in which he attacked members of his own party who have sought to excuse the actions of people who violently attacked the Capitol, as well as those who "aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy."
"The GOP has a duty to condemn the riot and those who refuse to acknowledge it," Rove wrote.
On Thursday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement calling Jan. 6, 2021, "a dark day for Congress and our country," adding, "This disgraceful scene was antithetical to the rule of law."
Echoing other congressional Republicans on the anniversary, McConnell also accused Democrats of politicizing the event for strategic gain.