Texas Sen. Ted Cruz bore into Attorney General Eric Holder on the question of the United States using drones on U.S. soil at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
Cruz laid out a hypothetical situation: A U.S. citizen accused of terrorist activity is drinking coffee at a café. Cruz asked Holder if it would be constitutional for the United States to target and kill that citizen with a drone.
“I wouldn’t think that would be appropriate lethal force,” Holder said.
Cruz continued to press the attorney general.
“With all respect, General Holder, my question wasn’t appropriateness or prosecutorial discretion, it is a simple legal question,” Cruz continued. “Does the constitution allow a U.S citizen on U.S. soil who doesn’t pose an imminent threat to be killed by the U.S. government?”
Holder responded that the situation was hypothetical and that “you have to look at all of the facts.”
Cruz said he was looking for a one-word answer: “no.”
In a letter to Sen. Rand Paul released earlier this week, Holder wrote that a drone attack on U.S. soil against a U.S. citizen was “hypothetical” and “unlikely to occur.” He added that the situation was “one we hope no President will ever have to confront.”
Cruz has earned cheers from conservatives in recent months for his aggressive, prosecutorial questions during hearings for Chuck Hagel and John Brennan .