Donald Trump uncharacteristically apologized to Ted Cruz after insulting his wife and father during the 2016 campaign — only for the Texas senator to still refuse to endorse Trump at the Republican convention.
In a new memoir, Trump’s then-campaign manager Paul Manafort writes, “Trump apologized on his own initiative for saying some of the things he said about Cruz that were unusual for Trump.”
The revealing vignette — potentially an embarrassing one for two powerful Republicans who have since formed an alliance of convenience — is included in Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, but Not Silenced, due out in the US next month. The Guardian received a copy.
Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager from May to August 2016.
Manafort was jailed on tax charges in a case stemming from the investigation into Russian election interference and Trump-Moscow ties, did not oppose Trump, and was granted a pardon just before the end of Trump’s term.
In his memoir, he denies collusion with Russia, bemoans his experiences with the US justice system, admits indirectly advising Trump in 2020 while he was in domestic custody, and expresses his strong support for another Trump campaign in the US year 2024 out.
In a brutal 2016 primary, Trump insinuated that Cruz’s wife was ugly and linked his father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He also questioned whether the Canadian-born Cruz qualified for the office of US President and coined an enduring nickname, Lyin’ Ted.
Manafort’s description of a Trump apology for such insults may surprise both men.
Trump is famous for never apologizing, either in his business career or in his seven-year career on the US political scene.
And when Cruz finally came on the side with Trump in September 2016, he was said: “Neither he nor his campaign have ever taken back a word they said about my wife and family.”
Now Manafort says Trump apologized — and that to Cruz’s face.
Describing a meeting aimed at winning Cruz’s support before the Cleveland Congress in July, Manafort writes that the senator said he would work with the man who beat him to second place in the primary, but he did would not formally support it “because his supporters don’t want him to do it”.
Manafort writes, “It was a forced justification for someone who is normally very logical. Trump didn’t buy it.”
Trump apologized nonetheless, Manafort writes, and then “told Cruz he considered him an ally, not an enemy, and he believed they could work together when Trump was president.”
At least initially, Trump’s efforts were in vain. In his speech at the convention, Cruz did not endorse Trump and was booed by the crowd. The senator’s wife, Heidi Cruz, was escorted out of the arena over concerns for her safety.
Manafort accuses Cruz’s aides of “double acting” and describes how Trump declared, “That’s bullshit” while the senator was speaking, and then walked to the back of the Congressional Hall, “effectively diverting Cruz’s attention and undercutting his speech.” .
“Cruz then got word that there was a technical problem — a legitimate glitch — and the volume of his speech went down.”
Footage of the speech does not clearly show such a technical error.
Cruz, writes Manafort, was “very upset. It took months to restore that relationship. But eventually Cruz came to support Trump, and Trump harbored no ill will.”
Of course, whether Cruz and Trump will harbor ill will toward Manafort for undermining Cruz’s claim that he never received an apology and claiming that Trump provided a rare apology remains to be seen.