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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).

Go deeper

Russia likely to keep amplifying criticism of mail-in voting, DHS says

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf testifies to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 6. Photo: Alex Wong/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security's intelligence branch warned law enforcement Thursday that it believes Russian-controlled social media trolls and state media are likely to continue trying to sow distrust in U.S. election results and mail-in ballots, ABC News first reported.

Why it matters: Americans are expected to vote by mail in record numbers in November's election due to the coronavirus pandemic, which means it may be days or weeks after election day before it's clear who won the presidency and down-ballot races.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.