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Cruz says he was chaperoning daughters, friends on Cancun trip amid Texas power crisis

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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) flew back to his home state from Mexico on Thursday afternoon, as he faces intense backlash for jetting off amid a winter storm leaving millions of Texans without power or water. The senator said that he was merely chaperoning his daughters and their friends on their flight.

The winter storm sweeping across much of the country has taken at least 30 lives so far and as of Thursday has left nearly 500,000 people Texas, which has its own separate power grid, without power.

The Texas Republican was seen Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Post, boarding a flight from the beach town of Cancun back to the U.S. Cruz is expected to land in Houston at 3:47 p.m. local time, according to the newspaper.

Images of Cruz at an airport began floating around online late on Wednesday, with people claiming that he was flying off to Cancun amid the deadly crisis engulfing his home state. After knowledge of his trip became public and sources familiar with the matter confirmed it to news outlets, Cruz put out a statement Thursday afternoon explaining himself.

“This has been an infuriating week for Texans,” Cruz wrote in a statement.

“The greatest state in the greatest country in the world has been without power. We have food lines, gas lines, and people sleeping at the neighbors’ house. Our homes are freezing and our lights are out too. Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power, too,” he continued.

“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” the senator added.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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Joe Biden

President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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