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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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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”

Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.

RELATED: ‘Let’s play strip poker’: Fmr. Cuomo aide accuses NY governor of sexual harassment

Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.

RELATED: De Blasio ‘sickened’ by Cuomo sexual harassment claims

“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”

“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”

This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”

RELATED: Cuomo responds to sexual harassment claims, saying he ‘may have been insensitive’

During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.

“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”

“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”

Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.

RELATED: ‘Eat the whole sausage: Gov. Cuomo in hot water for resurfaced video

Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.

“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.

“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”

He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.

Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”

“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.

MORE ON CUOMO: NY dem says state legislature is ‘inching toward’ Cuomo impeachment probe

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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