As municipalities around the country ponder defunding their police forces, Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing back. The Texas Republican argues that more black lives will be lost and more black women will be sexually assaulted if law enforcement is cut or abolished in some communities. Cruz joins The Daily Signal Podcast to discuss.

The senator also talks about how and why he was sanctioned July 13 by the communist government of China for “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

Listen to the podcast or read a lightly edited transcript below.

We also cover these stories:

  • If rioters decide to target federal buildings in other parts of the country besides Portland, Oregon, the Department of Homeland Security says it’s prepared to protect government property. 
  • A new vaccine for the coronavirus shows some positive results. 
  • The son of New Jersey District Court Judge Esther Salas and New York defense attorney Mark Anderl is shot and killed on the family’s doorstep. 

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Rachel del Guidice: I’m very honored to be joined on The Daily Signal Podcast by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Sen. Cruz, it’s great to have you back on with us.

Ted Cruz: Rachel, it’s great to be with you. Thank you for having me.

Del Guidice: Well, it’s great to have you with us. So, to start off, China announced earlier this week sanctions against you and several other officials in the country for “interfering in China’s internal affairs.” Sen. Cruz, can you tell us what’s going on here?

Cruz: Well, sure. Earlier this week, I went to bed, went to sleep, and when I woke up, I used my cellphone as my alarm clock. And so, I picked up the phone and looked at it. And first thing I had was four or five texts. All of which told me that while I was sleeping, that the communist government of China had formally sanctioned me, and had banned me from traveling to China. And I have to admit, I laughed out loud when I read that. I view that as a badge of honor.

When it comes to China, the Chinese communist government, they are murderers, they are liars, they are torturers, they have over 1 million Uighurs right now in concentration camps in China, where they are being oppressed.

They have brutal and inhuman policy such as the one-child policy that they enforced through forced sterilization and forced abortions. They engage in massive human rights cover-ups, including their censorship and cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. … The cover-up of the Chinese communist government is a direct cause of the [deaths] of over 500,000 people who have died worldwide from this pandemic.

And let me say also, we’re now at a point in time when a lot of politicians in Washington are suddenly discovering that the communist government in China is bad. I got to say, I had been a leading China hawk for the entire eight years I served in the Senate, laying out the danger that I believe China poses—the single greatest geopolitical threats to the United States for the next century.

And there were an awful lot of politicians in Washington, both Democrats, but also a lot of Republicans, who argued on the other side, who said there wasn’t a threat from China, said the Chinese leadership was bragging, we should embrace them and become even more dependent on them.

I’m glad that a lot of those are opening their eyes and coming over. There’s a reason why China singled me out for these sanctions, because they’re scared of American leadership standing up to their threat, but that only underscores the need to do so even more.

Del Guidice: Well, given that, how do you think the United States can hold China accountable?

Cruz: Well, I think it needs to be a multipronged strategy. I’ve introduced about a dozen different pieces of legislation focusing on different aspects of it.

No. 1, let’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic. China bears enormous responsibility. It bears enormous responsibility for the [cover-up], and even potentially before that, potentially for the origination of this virus.

There were two different virology labs in Wuhan, China, both of which we now know were studying coronaviruses. They were studying coronaviruses derived from bats. The particular bats they were studying, the closest natural population is over 900 miles away in China.

And we also know that the State Department, last year, there were multiple wires raising serious concerns about the security protocols in those Chinese government labs, and in particular, raising the threat, the risk, that because their security was so shoddy, there was a risk of them triggering a global pandemic of a coronavirus that could escape.

I think we need absolutely clear accountability. We need to go in with a forensic effort to, No. 1, determine every single step of China’s culpability of their responsibility.

We also know, in December, when heroic Chinese whistleblowers and physicians tried to blow the whistle, tried to point out this outbreak was occurring, the Chinese government went and arrested those whistleblowers, they silenced them, they punished them, and they made a deliberate decision not to act as a responsible government, not to send in public health officials and quarantine those who were affected.

If they’d had done that, there’s a very real possibility this could have remained as a limited regional outbreak instead of a global pandemic.

But instead, they cynically risked the lives of millions across the globe. We need a careful accounting of that, and we need real consequences and responsibility.

On a totally different aspect of the problem, economically, our vulnerability to the supply chain, to critical infrastructure that’s been drawn into China.

Let’s take, for example, medical equipment, [personal protective equipment], pharmaceuticals. The Chinese communist government systematically targeted that vital industry in the United States, engaged in economic warfare, drove out of business much of our domestic production.

We’re now incredibly dependent on communist China for antibiotics, for cancer drugs, for Alzheimer’s drugs, for all sorts of vital medical equipment. And right in the midst of this pandemic, one Chinese government-controlled state newspaper explicitly threatened to cut off pharmaceuticals to the United States as a tool of economic warfare.

Now, if they would do that, that’s actually not economic warfare, that’s actual warfare, that is literally threatening the lives of millions of Americans who depend upon these medicines.

And it gets completely unacceptable that we are dependent upon the whims of the Chinese communist leadership. So I’m fighting for legislation to create strong tax incentives, to move that manufacturing back to the United States, the critical infrastructure, the pharmaceutical [manufacturing], so that we don’t have the lives of Americans subject to the whim of communist dictators who are trying to defeat the United States of America.

Del Guidice: What about your colleagues in the Senate? Are you happy with how they’ve responded to these votes from China or do you see that there is more needed to be done, and how would you encourage them to go about that?

Cruz: I think there’s a great deal more that needs to be done. I do think people’s eyes are opening up more significantly. But the comprehensiveness of the threat is still something we’re just beginning to grapple with.

I think the most far-reaching consequence of this global pandemic is going to be a fundamental reassessment of the United States’ relationship with China. That includes things like rare earth minerals and materials.

I have another bill I’ve introduced, the ORE, because a great many minerals—China did the same thing they did the pharmaceuticals, they targeted U.S. production of it, they bankrupted it, drove it out of business, and we depend upon it for national security, for critical defense tools, for technology. We need to be bringing that back.

Chinese censorship, which is an enormous problem, both in China, but also here—Hollywood willingly censors American movies because they want access to the Chinese market.

So for example, the new sequel to “Top Gun,” that was supposed to be coming out later this year, the back of Mavericks jacket—in the original movie, there was a Taiwanese flag and a Japanese flag on the back of his jacket. Hollywood happily edited them out because the Chinese overlords demanded them.

I’ve introduced legislation called the SCRIPT Act, that what it does is restricts access to federal government assets. A whole lot of movies use things like military ships, military jets, military tanks, or equipment to film their movies. And what the SCRIPT Act says is, listen, if you want access to federal government hard assets then you have to agree not to let the Chinese government censor your film. And so, I think fighting these issues across the board is important.

And Rachel, I’ll note, last fall in October, I traveled to Asia and I went to Pearl Harbor, and Japan, and Taiwan, and India, and Hong Kong. And it was very much designed as really a friends and allies tour, of major allies of America surrounding China …

The entire focus of the trip was dealing with the threat of communist China. In Hong Kong, I met with the protesters, some 2 million protesters came to the streets of Hong Kong fighting for liberty. And I met with them, many of them young teenagers risking their lives to stand up for freedom.

I did one of the Sunday shows by satellite back in the United States, and I dressed in all black in solidarity with the protest … the protesters dressed in all black when they protested.

I think highlighting this and understanding the scope, and breadth, and depth of it, the Chinese government is waging a 1,000-year war. That’s what they’re trying to do. We need to be serious and level-headed, and clear-eyed in defending ourselves against that threat.

Del Guidice: Well, switching gears just a little bit here, something that you have been vocal about is your concerns about the “defund police” movement. What is your perspective on this movement and how would you characterize it?

Cruz: Well, I think today’s Democratic Party has really released the angriest, and craziest, and most extreme left-wing voices in their party. And I got to say, once you’ve opened Pandora’s box, it’s very hard to close it again.

If I would have suggested to you a month ago that Democrats would be advocating for abolishing the police, people would have laughed and ridiculed that: “Come now, that can’t possibly be serious. Nobody would propose that.”

And yet, sadly, we’re seeing more and more elected officials embracing that radical, extreme ideology. We’ve got Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, who’s advocating for cutting $1 billion from the New York Police Department, even while their crime rate is skyrocketing and their murder rate is skyrocketing.

I think that defunding the police or abolishing the police is profoundly dangerous, I think it is foolish, I think it is a radical idea.

I also think it is racist. Because those who are advocating this, their mantra is “black lives matter.” And listen, as a statement of values, that is absolutely correct. Yes, absolutely, black lives matter. And if you abolish the police, if you defund the police, you know to an absolute certainty that more black lives will be lost, more African American women, and children, and innocents living in high-crime neighborhoods, more of them will be murdered, more of them will be assaulted, more of them will be subject to sexual assault.

And it is dangerous, and they get an approach to say, “These vulnerable communities, we’re going to pull the cops out of there and leave you to be victims of violent crime.” I think that’s a terrible, terrible idea.

Del Guidice: What is your perspective as well on this, on how lawmakers and other state and local leaders have responded to all these pushes across the country? What can and … what needs to be done?

Cruz: Well, unfortunately, there are too many elected politicians who are standing with and facilitating and encouraging the angry mob.

We have seen, tragically, mobs burning our cities, we’ve seen violent rioters attacking innocent citizens, firebombing police cars, looting and destroying small businesses, many of which are owned by African Americans or Hispanics in the inner city, murdering police officers.

And this is wrong. I have been calling upon and working with state and local law enforcement to stop it. To make clear, everyone has a right to protest, everyone has a right to speak and to speak freely, but you don’t have a right to engage in violence, you don’t have a right to hurt anybody else, you don’t have a right to murder anybody else, you don’t have a right to destroy anybody else’s home or anybody else’s business.

And if you do that, law enforcement needs to put you in jail for a very long time.

Sadly though, we see politicians on the left who have determined it is in their political interest to stand with the rioters, and the looters, and the murderers. And it is wrong.

You look at Minneapolis in the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd; the riots there destroyed over 700 buildings in the city of Minneapolis. Much of that violence was spearheaded by Antifa, [the] terrorist organization that infiltrated what were peaceful protests and turned them into violent riots instead.

I’ve introduced in the Senate legislation that allows any individual American, if you have elected officials that have ordered the police to withdraw, that have allowed a lawless zone or a lawless territory to be created that results in the destruction of property or the harming of individual Americans, that allows you to sue those elected officials who made the decision to wrongfully deprive you of your civil rights, and for political reasons, remove police protections from vulnerable neighborhoods.

Del Guidice: Lastly, Sen. Cruz, you’re very passionate [in] speaking about clean energy initiatives that would, in the long run, harm the economy. … People say these things are good, but then there are very serious implications down the road.

Cruz: Well, much like the Democratic Party has unleashed the extreme, abolish the police forces, it’s also unleash[ed] the extreme environmental left, where the Green New Deal that was initially proposed by [Rep.] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would cost $93 trillion.

Now, it’s hard sometimes for people to put numbers in scope and relative scale. So here’s one way of thinking about it: $93 trillion is more money than the United States government has spent in the entire history of our country. Going back to the days of George Washington, if you add up every government expenditure, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, that all adds up to less than $93 trillion.

And the proposal of AOC, that’s now being embraced by many mainstream Democrats or supposedly mainstream Democrats, is a staggering expense that would result in dramatic taxes that would just cripple working families, destroying manufacturing jobs across this country, destroying blue-collar jobs across this country, destroying energy jobs across this country.

The last several years, we have seen an energy renaissance in the United States, and it’s driven by the technological advances that have allowed us to develop far more resources, fracking, the shale revolution, oil and gas resources that’s driven down the cost of energy and has produced millions of high-paying jobs. And what is now being proposed is to destroy those jobs.

And I got to say, I just think that is fundamentally wrong. I recognize that that would please the billionaire donors in New York City and San Francisco. But I think we ought to be standing with the working men and women, with the steelworkers in Ohio, with the truck drivers, with the waiters and waitresses, and single moms, and the men and women with calluses on their hands.

The proposal of the Democrats on energy is just to bankrupt those blue-collar jobs, to put them out of business. And also to put out of business a lot of manufacturing jobs, because the low cost energy that American innovation has produced in the last few years has enabled us to bring manufacturing jobs back from China, back from Mexico, back from countries across the world, back to the United States. But yet, the current proposal being debated would result in those blue-collar jobs being eliminated. I think that’s wrong.

And my view on energy is we should pursue all of the above. I’m for every energy source, whether oil, gas, or coal, or nuclear, or solar, or wind, or biofuels, you name it, we should have all of them, but it shouldn’t be Washington bureaucrats taking winners and losers, it shouldn’t be the corrupt Washington process doing it. Instead, it should be the innovation and creativity of the market moving forward and driving more jobs, more opportunity, higher wages, driving our economy forward.

Del Guidice: Sen. Cruz, thank you so much for joining us today on The Daily Signal Podcast. It’s been great to have you back on.

Cruz: It’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.