WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has offered his congratulations to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., on being selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next Attorney General of the United States, adding that he is "exactly the kind of person" America needs in that office.
Although it has been reported that Cruz, Trump's biggest rival during the presidential primary elections and a former associate deputy attorney general, was in consideration to be selected as the next head of the Justice Department and even met with Trump in New York, it was announced Friday morning that Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump in the primaries and a former attorney general of Alabama, has been tapped to fill the position when the Trump administration takes over in January.
After the news broke, Cruz gave an address at the Federalist Society's annual National Lawyer's Convention at the Mayflower Hotel and told the gathering of conservative lawyers that his Senate Judiciary Committee colleague will make an "extraordinary" attorney general.
"I am particularly pleased to offer words of congratulations to my colleague and good friend Jeff Sessions, who is going to make an extraordinary Attorney General of the United States," Cruz said, followed by 10 seconds of applause.
"He is a committed and deeply principled conservative," Cruz continued. "If those who serve in this administration had even a fraction of his integrity and commitment to principle, we are going to see an administration that does remarkable things for the people of this country."
In addition to his oral remarks, Cruz's office also released prepared remarks in which Cruz explained that "Sen. Sessions is a man of extraordinary fortitude and character with an exemplary career in public service. He's exactly the kind of person we need leading the Department of Justice."
"Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination as attorney general is great news for all of us who revere the Constitution and the rule of law," Cruz said in a separate statement issued Friday. "I have been honored to work with Sen. Sessions on many of our nation's most important issues over the last four years. Sen. Sessions has had an extraordinary career in government and law enforcement. He has been an exemplary senator for the state of Alabama, and I am confident that he will be an exceptional United States attorney general."
While at the Federalist Society convention, which this year honored the jurisprudence and legacy of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Cruz was asked during a question-and-answer session whether he had aspirations to become Trump's pick to fill Scalia's vacant Supreme Court seat.
Cruz, who was the longest-serving Texas solicitor general, seemingly dodged the question.
"Thank you for the kind encouragement. What I will say is that history is long and can take unexpected paths," Cruz responded. "I think it is absolutely vital that seat and every other seat that becomes vacant on the court be filled by principled constitutionalists who will be faithful to the law and will check their own policy preferences at the door and simply honor their oath."
"I can also tell you that I have right now the privilege of serving in the United States Senate and representing 27 million Texans. That is a privilege and a responsibility I take very, very seriously," he continued. "I look forward to continuing to carry out that responsibility and continuing to fight for the principles of freedom and the principles embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They are very much in jeopardy right now. I, like I suspect many of you, am very excited by the historic opportunity we have been given right now and I look forward to working very hard to make the most of this opportunity to make a difference for our country."
Although some have suggested that Cruz should be in consideration for the open Supreme Court seat, Trump's advisor Kellyanne Conway, implied earlier this week that Cruz is not being considered for the open seat, saying that Trump's list of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees that he released earlier this year has not changed.