That’s surprising. Did he go to kiss the ring, or is something up?
— Alan He (@alanhe) November 15, 2016
Cruz is worried about a primary challenge in 2018 due to lingering anger over his convention non-endorsement of Trump, so showing up in person at Trump Tower to kneel before Zod makes some sense. He wants to get back in the president-elect’s good graces; an in-person grovel will obviously be more effective than a phone call. (And better for generating headlines too, so that Texas voters will notice that he’s made amends.) One thing doesn’t add up, though. Why would Cruz have avoided the media in entering the building if the point of all this is to show his Rick-Grimes-like obeisance to Negan Trump? If he wants Texans to see that the rift has healed, there’s no better way than to stride through the front door in front of the pool of cameras and make sure there’s video of it for the local news.
Come to think of it, something else doesn’t add up. Why would Trump, who’s up to his eyeballs in transition planning, take time out of his very busy day to gladhand Cruz? It’s hard to believe Cruz would have dropped by unannounced to pay him a visit knowing the demands on Trump’s time right now, and harder to believe that Trump would have dropped everything to meet him. Did Trump invite Cruz to the Tower? If so, why?
Is Trump … going to offer Cruz a job? I’ve heard conservatives speculate lately about putting him on the Court, but (a) Cruz isn’t on Trump’s of potential nominees (“This list is definitive and I will choose only from it,” Trump said in September) and (b) it would be uncharacteristic of Trump to reward Cruz for his earlier disloyalty with a plum as sweet as that, even if he did come crawling back and endorse Trump after the convention. Although maybe Trump likes the idea for that very reason, because his magnanimity would impress people and Trump-skeptic conservatives would swoon. Then again, there’s no reason to assume the job in question, if in fact there’s one on the table, is SCOTUS. If Giuliani’s out of the running for Attorney General, as seems to be the case, and Christie is now persona non grata in Trumpworld, that’s a big vacancy still to be filled. Jeff Sessions, a former judge, would be one possibility; Cruz, given his appellate experience, would be another. Would Trump be okay with a chief prosecutor who specialized in appeals rather than convictions at trial, as Giuliani and Christie did?
One reason that occurs to me for why Trump and his team might like the idea of Cruz at DOJ: If they’re planning to build on Obama’s expansion of presidential powers, and they certainly are, it would shore up their right flank to have Mr Conservative as their AG. They’ll take plenty of hypocritical heat from the left over separation of powers; it’d be nice if they had someone whom Federalist-Society-types respect in a prominent position of legal authority to signal, however implicitly, that any new executive power comports with the Constitution. “Would Ted Cruz work for a man who didn’t do things by the book constitutionally?” Trump fans will say, and that logic will carry weight. The question is, if AG were on the table, would Cruz accept? He’d have to give up his Senate seat, and he could lose his new job at a moment’s notice if he displeased Trump. Where would it leave his presidential ambitions if he spent a year as AG, got canned, and ended up back in the private sector?
But all of this is pie in the sky. Here’s the hard reality: If Trump names Cruz to any important position, Democrats and their media friends will have a field day replaying the clip below from the morning of the Indiana primary. Trump won’t want to give them an excuse to do that, especially so soon in his presidency. And given how much the Senate dislikes Cruz, there’s a real chance he would be filibustered in a SCOTUS confirmation vote. Would Trump nominate him without knowing first that 60 votes were there, or would he risk an embarrassing defeat by nominating him anyway? Maybe today’s visit really was just a courtesy call.
Update: Ah, here we go. Looks like Cruz did have time for the media after all.
Ted Cruz outside Trump Tower: "I look forward to working hard to help lead the fight to actually accomplish the conservative agenda." pic.twitter.com/YAl0o8VzsP
— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) November 16, 2016
Update: Whoops, error on my part in the post above. Although Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge by Ronald Reagan, he was never confirmed. He was, however, a U.S. Attorney for more than a decade and Attorney General of Alabama for several years.
Update: Looks like I was right. That was no courtesy call.
SCOOP: Trump is discussing TED CRUZ for AG
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 16, 2016
Is Cruz giving up on the presidency then? Like I said above, if he quits the Senate for any job apart from a Supreme Court appointment, his career in public office (in the near-term, at least) will exist only as long as Trump wants it to.