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Ted Cruz jetted to Cancun amid widespread Texas power outages

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UPDATED AT 2:15 PM (EST)

As a deadly snowstorm has left nearly 500,000 Texans without power as of Thursday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) flew to the Mexican beach town of Cancun with his family this week, Fox News has confirmed.

Late on Wednesday, images of the Texas Republican at an airport began floating around online, with people claiming that he had left the Lone Star State for Cancun in the midst of the deadly crisis. At least 30 people have died across the country due to the winter storm, according to the Associated Press.

Once knowledge of his trip became public, Cruz put out a statement explaining that he was chaperoning his daughters and their friends on their trip to Mexico.

“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.

A Republican source had told Fox News on Thursday that the claims that Cruz was flying to the beach town were true.

“The photos speak for themselves,” the source said, according to Fox.

One source directly familiar with the situation had earlier told the Associated Press that the trip to Cancun was long-planned and that Cruz was expected to return almost immediately. According to The New York Post, Cruz’s flight back to Houston is expected to arrive at 3:47 p.m. local time on Thursday.

Moreover, Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News reported earlier on Thursday that an individual seeming to be Cruz has a ticket from Cancun to Houston later on Thursday. The first three letters of their last name are “CRU,” and the first letter of their first name is “R.” Cruz’s actual first name is Raphael, while Ted is a nickname.

Cruz’s office did not respond to SaraACarter.com’s request for comment.

“That’s something that he has to answer to his constituents about,” Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West said, according to the Associated Press, when asked whether the senator’s travel was appropriate while Texans are without power and water.

“I’m here trying to take care of my family and look after my friends and others that are still without power,” West said. “That’s my focus.”

Meanwhile, Cruz acknowledged how dire the situation in Texas is in a Tuesday tweet, in response to people accusing him of hypocrisy for mocking California during its 2019 power outages.

“I’ve got no defense,” he wrote, followed with a shrugging emoji. “A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good.”

On Thursday, Cruz also heaped praise onto a furniture store owner, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, who let over 1,000 people seek refuge in his store amid the power outages, according to FOX 26 in Houston.

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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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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