The US Capitol’s three former top security officials have been testifying on Tuesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees about how Congress was breached during the riots on 6 January.
Five people died and several more were injured on that day, as a mob of pro-Trump supporters besieged the building, causing House members to barricade themselves inside offices.
Steven Sund, who was serving as the chief of the Capitol Police at the time of the insurrection, gave his account of the events of that day in front of the committees on Tuesday.
“Based on the intelligence we received, we planned for an increased level of violence at the Capitol, and that some participants may be harmed,” Mr Sund said during his testimony.
Just after Mr Sund made those remarks, the camera cut to Mr Cruz, who was filmed looking at his phone, appearing to be either messaging someone or searching for something as he repeatedly tapped the screen.
As Mr Sund continued describing how the Capitol police force was not prepared for the insurrection that took place, Mr Cruz continued looking at his phone.
Social media users were quick to criticise the senator for using the phone during the testimony, with @kachelme1 tweeting: “Why does @tedcruz even bother coming to committee?”
— For the enrightenment (@kachelme1) February 23, 2021
User @RichCalkins4 joked: “Planning his next 24hr getaway with the fam,” while @suebeeak added: “Yeah maybe Acapulco this time,” in reference to Mr Cruz’s controversial trip to Cancun, Mexico last week.
Planning his next 24hr getaway with the fam
— Chef BoyRC (@RichCalkins4) February 23, 2021
Mr Cruz flew to Cancun with his family last Wednesday as around 2 million Texans were struggling with power outages and millions more were without access to clean water, amid freezing temperatures caused by the historic Winter Storm Uri.
Private texts between his wife, Heidi Cruz, and an unknown friend planning the trip were leaked in the aftermath of the senator returning to Texas without his family on Thursday.
Speaking on the conservative show, Ruthless, a podcast, about the decision of his wife’s friend to leak the texts on Monday, Mr Cruz criticised the action and said: “Just, you know, treat each other as human beings, have to some degree some modicum of respect.”
Because @tedcruz has zero respect. He feels entitled. He feels like he doesn't have to follow rules. If he can't pay attention in hearings he should not be allowed on committees. Hopefully he won't be in Senate for much longer.
— Wendy Whitehouse😷 🌊🌊 (@WJWhitehouseNH) February 23, 2021
Social media users referenced those comments to mock Mr Cruz after he was spotted on his phone during the hearing, with @WJWhitehouseNH writing: “@tedcruz has zero respect” and Sophia Macks adding: “Zero ‘modicums’ of respect in action. And more finger pointing....in Ted Cruz’s group chat.”
During the testimony on Tuesday, the senators heard harrowing accounts from law enforcement officials, including US Capitol captain Carneysha Mendoza, who said that she and her fellow officers were gassed and beaten to the ground during the riot on 6 January.
“I received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day,” Ms Mendoza said, before referring to the riots as a “battle”.
She added: “We could have had 10 times the amount of people working with us, and I still believe the battle would have been just as devastating.”
The Independent has contacted Mr Cruz’s office for comment.