Sen. Marco Rubio lashed out at criticism that he made a deal with President Donald Trump for a tougher Cuba policy in exchange for his line of questioning of former FBI Director James Comey last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Politico reported on Monday.
The criticism against Rubio was spearheaded by an article in the Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago that "Rubio seemed most interested in getting Comey to publicly admit that President Trump 'was not personally under investigation' than in obtaining any new evidence for the Senate investigation."
Adding: "The optics — and the timing of a yet unscheduled visit by Trump to Miami to announce a rollback advocated by Rubio of President Barack Obama's engagement policy — certainly make it seem" that a deal was struck with the president.
Rubio told Politico that this line of argument was incorrect on several fronts.
First, he said he did not speak with Trump about the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, even when he attended a White House dinner with other congressmen the day before.
The Florida senator also emphasized that he strongly questioned NSA Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats at the hearings because they were not forthcoming with their answers, while "in the case of director Comey, there's no reason for me to be — he's answering questions. He's telling us everything."
Rubio also pointed out that the committee's hearing concentrated on the broader probe into Russia's meddling in the election.
"Did Russia interfere in our election? I think we know the answer to that," he said. "But how they interfered — their methods, their tactics - is what the American people deserve to know. Because we are 16-18 months from another election. And they're going to do it again," Rubio told Politico.
In addition, Rubio said that after the hearing, he did criticize Trump for the way he allegedly pressured Comey at their February meeting to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
"I thought that meeting at the Oval Office was a bad idea at best. Inappropriate is the way I would describe it, should not have happened. No one in the White House should have allowed it to happen."
On that point, Rubio said that "whether or not this issue arises to a criminal level… is what [special counsel] Bob Mueller is involved in. We're not a law enforcement agency. We're an investigative oversight committee."
Rubio also defended himself on Twitter, suggesting that the article in the Miami Herald should not be taken seriously.
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