Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) went on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning to trumpet his plan to seize $14 billion in cash and assets from Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Except the idea wasn’t unique to Cruz and was first floated during the height of the 2016 presidential election by LifeZette and Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham.
“So my legislation provides that if those assets are forfeited, those assets from El Chapo would go directly to building a wall and securing the border.”
In September 2016, LifeZette published an exclusive report saying candidate Trump and several of his senior advisors were weighing a plan that included the “use of assets seized from drug cartels and others in the illicit drug trade.”
The story went on to say that unnamed sources in the Trump campaign and in the Mexican government had confirmed that such a proposal had been developed, and referred to it as the “make the cartels pay plan.”
Ahead of the report, LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham brought up the idea, on her nationally syndicated radio show and on Fox News, of having funds seized from cartels go to pay for the wall.
Almost exactly three months before Cruz unveiled his proposal, on January 27, 2017, Ingraham tweeted: “Make the cartels pay for the wall—freeze & seize their assets, deposit in border fund; also tax the $20 billion in remittances to Mexico.”
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But on Wednesday, Cruz made no mention of the origins of the notion, and presented his bill, called the EL CHAPO Act (for Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order) as a plan he personally devised to get around Democrat obstructionism and get the wall funded.
“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade introduced Cruz and his “great idea,” and Cruz ran with it, saying that coincidentally, the estimated assets of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman are about $14 billion, the same as the lowest estimates of the price to build a border wall.
“So my legislation provides that if those assets are forfeited, those assets from El Chapo would go directly to building a wall and securing the border,” he said.
“And that way, if you did that, then Mexico would indirectly wind up building the wall. That’s pure genius on your part,” said co-host Steve Doocy, in response.
Also curious is Cruz’s sudden enthusiasm to be helpful to President Donald Trump, his former rival in the Republican presidential primary, whom he famously refused to endorse at the Republican National Convention in July 2016, telling delegates: “Vote your conscience.”
Cruz, who was first elected in 2012 to succeed Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is up for re-election in 2018, and perhaps views strong support for Trump’s wall as necessary for his reelection prospects.
During the campaign, after the issue of illegal immigration took center stage, thanks to Trump, Cruz voiced strong support for border enforcement and said he’d fought against amnesty in the U.S. Senate. Cruz touted that he’d introduced a “poison pill” amendment to try to sink the so-called Gang of Eight amnesty bill. Some who studied the amendment said it could not be determined whether he was for or against the bill.
The Washington Post wrote on December 15, 2015: “Cruz positioned himself in a way so that he would appear pro-legalization if an immigration overhaul passed, or appear anti-legalization if hard-liner stances became more acceptable.”
A request for comment from Cruz’s office was not immediately returned Wednesday.