If President Donald Trump did indeed ask the Director of National Intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency to publicly deny the existence of evidence proving collusion between his 2016 campaign and the Russian government, as The Washington Post reported Monday, the scope of problems created would extend far beyond the Russia investigation, Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday.
“It goes further in my mind, as a member of the intelligence committee, than just the focus on the Russia investigation,” Rubio (R-Fla.) said on CNN’s “New Day.” “I think it goes into the very nature of the intelligence community’s work and its ability to work with the executive branch and the presidency.”
Both Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers are scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill Tuesday and Rubio told CNN that “I know for a fact they are going to be asked” about Trump’s alleged request.
The Florida lawmaker and former 2016 presidential candidate refused to say whether or not the president’s reported conversations rise to the level of obstruction of justice, responding that he could not answer a legal question without first possessing all the facts. He said he had and would continue to generally avoid commenting on media reports in an effort to avoid imperiling the perceived objectivity of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s own investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election.
And while he was critical of how the Trump administration has operated thus far, suggesting that “the White House needs to systemize a little bit and get a bit more conventional,” Rubio also echoed a regular argument that the president and others have made, that leaks to the media have already proven damaging and will continue to do so.
“I am not here to ask people not to talk to the press. I think the press plays an important function in all of this,” he said. “I’m just telling you that I have no doubt that this is having an impact on our ability to contact national security operations because of the growing level of mistrust that must exist when you’re in a room and you don’t know where these notes or where these comments are going to wind up in the newspaper in 48 hours.”