Sen. Marco Rubio. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images
Acting Senate Intelligence Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned his fellow Republicans in an interview with Politico not to fall victim to Russian disinformation as they move to probe the involvement of Obama administration officials, including Joe Biden, in the opening of the Russia investigation.
The big picture: Rubio has so far been reluctant to embrace ideas like "Obamagate," the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama ordered such investigations in order to undermine the incoming Trump administration, and he has distanced himself from GOP-led investigations into Biden's affairs in Ukraine.
- The warnings about disinformation are consistent with those from Rubio's predecessor as intelligence chair, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who stepped down amid a federal investigation into stock trades he made before the markets crashed in March.
- Politico notes that position could put Rubio "on a collision course with Trump and his conservative allies" in Congress ahead of the November election.
What he's saying: "I’m not going to accuse any member who believes that they are exercising oversight to be colluding with a foreign power," Rubio told Politico.
- "I will say to you that I think it’s pretty clear that the Russians are constantly pursuing narratives that they believe will drive conflict in our politics and divide us against each other."
- "If we hear or see something, I’ll encourage them to go read up on the intelligence they have access to. ... Ultimately we can’t control what people decide to believe or say."
- "I think as a society we should anticipate that that’s the new normal for the time to come. And we should view everything with massive grains of salt about the sourcing."
Worth noting: Despite repeated mentions of "Obamagate," Trump was unable to specify what crime he accused Obama of committing earlier this month, instead telling a White House press briefing that "the crime is very obvious to everybody."
Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to identify Richard Burr as the senator from North Carolina (not South Carolina).