Ted Cruz reacts to New York Times report and Amy Coney Barrett nomination

The Texas senator explains why he believes The New York Times report surrounding President Trump's alleged income tax shouldn't be what Americans are concerned about right now.
6:44 | 09/28/20

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Transcript for Ted Cruz reacts to New York Times report and Amy Coney Barrett nomination
For the last 80 years, the senate has not confirmed any nominee nominated during an election year, and we should not do so this time either. This nomination could dramatically alter the balance of power on the U.S. Supreme court, and we have an election going on right now. All right. That was senator Ted Cruz making it clear why he was blocking president Obama's supreme court excuse me, more than eight months before the last election, but with just 36 days to go until the next election, he's kind of pulled a 180 and wants to vote on you-know-whose nominee now, and here to tell us why is the author of a book with a very timely title, "One vote away: How a single supreme court seat can change history," senator Ted Cruz. Morning, senator. Sunny, you got the first one. Sure. Senator Cruz, thank you so much for joining us, but before we get to trump's supreme court nominee, we have been talking this morning about "The New York Times" report which claims president trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017 when he was in office, and none actually at all in 10 out of the 15 years prior. What's your reaction to that? Well, I don't know how accurate the story is. "The New York Times" didn't release any of the underlying documents. Apparently somebody illegally gave them a copy of something, some tax return documents -- If it's accurate. If it's accurate. But the point is I don't know if it's accurate or not. I don't think it's an issue that frankly impacts a whole lot of Americans. As I talked to people in Texas, the number one issue everyone is worried about is jobs. They want to reopen small businesses. They want to go back to work. I talked to moms and parents who are worried about education, who are worried about the future, who want to see our economy come back, who want us to stay safe, who want to rebuild our military. So a stolen or secretly leaked copy of the president's tax returns, I get "The New York Times" wants to drive this as an attack on Donald Trump, but I don't see a lot of people in Texas who this is front and center for them. Do you think people should pay their taxes? I'm sorry. I didn't -- Sorry, joy. I was just asking, do you think people should pay their fair -- Of course, people should pay their fair share in taxes. I assume that the president had accountants and followed the law. It's actually one of the reasons why I've long been an advocate of a flat tax, a simple flat tax. 10% for everyone, you know, it's often the case that the super wealthy end up paying a lot less because there's all sorts of legal ways in their taxes to pay less. Right. I think we should abolish the irs and have everyone send in -- I laid out a very simple flat tax plan that every family would pay 10%. It doesn't matter if it's income or capital gains or everything, and it's -- it reduces the power of Washington. So if this story now has caused "The New York Times" to come out in favor of a flat tax, I think that's great. Well, so senator, I'm assuming that you pay your taxes. You just said you did, so bravo to that. Sure. I pay mine, you pay yours, and trump says the story is fake news and you're even questioning its validity right now. So here's my question. Why not just release his tax returns and prove it? Seems like a very easy solution. Let's see the tax returns. Every other president has shown them. You know what? This was a fight back and forth in 2016. I'm sure Joe Biden will make that point. As I said, I don't see people at home, this being the number one issue. It's not complicated that the "New York Times" and the media hates the president and they want to distract from frankly I think the supreme court vacancy we have in front of us is a much more important issue because it impacts -- the people I hear from care about our constitutional rights. They care about free speech. They care about religious liberty, and I think we ought to be focusing on issues that impact people's lives, not just the relentless attacks on the president which seems to be the only thing the media wants to Well, let's get back to the supreme court because it is -- Republicans are now working to fast track Amy coney Barrett, her appointment, and we heard what you said in 2016 about not wanting a new supreme court justice. That was eight months out from the election. This one is a month out. So I know what changed your mind. I feel like I know what changed your mind, but why did you change, or do you still feel the same way? Well, they're very different circumstances, and if you actually look to history, the situation of a supreme court vacancy during a presidential election year it's not new. It's happened 29 times in our country's history. Presidents have made nominations all 29 times, and if you look at the precedent of what's happened, there's a clear 19 of those times the president and the senate have been of the same party, and the senate has confirmed -- Right. -- 17 of those 19. That's what happens when they're both of the same party. On the other hand, ten of the times the president and the senate have been of different parties and when that's happened, the senate has confirmed only two of them. In 2016, president Obama and the senate were of different parties and that's one of the instances and there's a reason for that. The constitution sets up checks and balances between the president and the senate and the American people -- the two parties have a very different view on what kind of judge or justice should be appointed. Right. As you mentioned, I've got a new book, "One vote away," and it's all about -- Right. -- The kinds of justices that should be appointed and why. It really gets into the inside story of the biggest cases of the courts. What's going on with the justices, you know, before I was in the senate, I was a supreme court litigator. That was my profession. I argued cases in front of the supreme court, and Donald Trump promised to nominate principled constitutionalists in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. Hillary Clinton promised to nominate liberal judicial activists, and the American people made a choice there. I'm sorry. Sir, hold on. I just want to point out that one of those people that was, you know, liberal was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I just wanted to point that out.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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