By Jim DeFede

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Saying it was “not a real request,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio dismissed President Trump’s call for China to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and refused to say whether he thought it was appropriate for the President to ask an authoritarian regime to investigate a political rival.

“I don’t know that that’s a real request or him just needling the press, knowing that you guys are going to get outraged by it,” Rubio said during an event in the Florida Keys Friday. “He’s pretty good at getting everybody fired up. And he’s been doing that for a while and the media responded right on task.”

On Thursday, Trump defended his efforts to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens and then took the additional step of calling on China to do the same.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” the President said on the South Lawn of the White House. On Friday, the President continued to assert that he had every right to call on a foreign power to investigate his chief political rival.

WATCH RUBIO’S ENTIRE STATEMENT HERE

 

Trump’s China comment places Rubio in a particularly awkward position. Rubio is one of the Senate’s loudest critics of China, often attacking the Chinese government for human rights abuses, its assault on religious freedom, and their theft of American intellectual property. Rubio led the charge to block Hauwei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, from entering the US market.

Pressed again about his record on China as well as the President’s statements, Rubio refused to take the President’s words seriously.

“I don’t think it’s a real request,” he said. “I think again, I think he did it to gig you guys. I think he did it to provoke you to ask me and others and get outraged by it. I mean he plays it like a violin and everyone falls right into it. That’s not a real request.”

At the same time Rubio was discounting the President’s statements, fellow Republican Senator, Mitt Romney, was issuing a strong condemnation.

“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Romney said in a statement, which he also tweeted out. “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

 

Asked more generally about the impeachment inquiry underway in the House, Rubio said we should let the facts determine the course of action.

“Here’s a good idea, why don’t we wait for all the information to come forward before people start making decisions or pronouncements in one direction or another,” he said. “Rather than just reflexively circling the wagons or rushing to judgment, how about waiting for everything to come forward. Look at it all. And then you can make a judgment on what’s in the best interest of our country. I think that’s not just a fair way to handle these things. I think it’s the right way to handle these things and that’s what I intend to do.”

 

Jim DeFede

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