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Sen. Marco Rubio, during an April Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is leading calls to take reports of UFOs more seriously ahead of the expected release next month of a government report on such sightings.

Why it matters: Rubio, who as acting Senate Intelligence Committee chair asked for an unclassified copy of the report to be released to Congress, told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday: "Anything that enters an airspace that's not supposed to be there is a threat."

Driving the news: Former Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves told CBS' Bill Whitaker he and other members of his F/A-18 fighter squadron detected unexplained sightings of UFOs, also known as "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAP), in restricted airspace southeast of Virginia Beach "every day for at least a couple years," starting in 2014.

  • The Pentagon confirmed it couldn't identify images of these UAPs, shared with "60 Minutes." Graves said he couldn't rule out technology developed by the governments of Russia or China.
  • "I am worried, frankly. ... if these were tactical jets from another country that were hanging out up there, it would be a massive issue," Graves said.
  • "But because it looks slightly different, we're not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We're happy to just ignore the fact that these are out there, watching us every day."    

Between the lines: Loue Elizondo, the former director of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, told Whitaker sometimes there were "simple explanations" for UAPs, others not so simple, but they would go through due diligence.

  • "Is it some sort of new type of cruise missile technology that China has developed? Is it some sort of high-altitude balloon that's conducting reconnaissance?" Elizondo added.
  • "Ultimately when you have exhausted all those what ifs and you're still left with the fact that this is in our airspace and it's real, that's when it becomes compelling, and that's when it becomes problematic." 

Of note: Rubio told Whitaker there's a "stigma" on Capitol Hill when it comes to UAPs and "I don't think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to very a fundamental question.

  • "I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously."

The bottom line: "I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in," Rubio said. 

  • "That there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn't."
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Representatives for Rubio did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: U.S. military formalizes UFO sighting report process

Go deeper

33 mins ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.

Updated 39 mins ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Charted: GOP surged as Biden slumped

Expand chart
Reproduced from Gallup. (Independents were asked their party leaning.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Gallup polling found a huge shift in party preference over the course of 2021, from a 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters: It's the biggest swing in one calendar year for Gallup's 30 years of tracking.