TALLAHASSEE - U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants Special Counsel Robert Mueller to continue his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as other Florida lawmakers battle in the media spotlight about the need for the ongoing probe.
In giving a recap of his year Wednesday, Rubio, a Miami-Dade County Republican, said the best thing for everyone, including President Donald Trump, is for Mueller to be able to complete his work.
Rubio described as “troublesome” text messages between FBI agents that were critical of then-candidate Trump --- an issue that conservative critics of the probe have seized upon. But Rubio said he's convinced Mueller, based on personal interaction with the former FBI director, will only pursue “things that are true, and he will do it in a fair and balanced way.”
"If the end product does not reflect that, I'll say I was wrong," Rubio said. "But I think the best thing that can happen for the president, for the country and for everyone is that he be allowed to lead his investigation as thoroughly and as complete as possible and that we allow the facts from that investigation to lead where they may, to lead to the truth."
Rubio's approach contrasts with Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican, who more than a month ago warned on the House floor that the country was at risk of a “coup d'etat” by Mueller's investigation.
On Wednesday, Gaetz was on Fox News to declare the Russia investigation “riddled with conflicts of interest” and that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should “step up” to end the probe or for Mueller to immediately show what he's found.
"It's time for Bob Mueller to put up or shut up," Gaetz said. "If there's evidence of collusion, let's see it. If there's not, let's move on as a country and let's institute reforms at the FBI so that an egomaniac (former) FBI director like James Comey cannot depart from the normal standard procedures that guarantee all Americans equal treatment under the law."
Trump dismissed Comey in May and later suggested the move was tied to the investigation into Russian election interference.
Meanwhile, Congressman Ted Deutch, a Palm Beach County Democrat, expressed concern Wednesday on CNN about the “concerted efforts by my Republican colleagues and others to undermine the special counsel's investigation.”
Deutch pointed to “coup d'etat” comments by Gaetz and others as undermining “the rule of law in this country.”
Meanwhile, Rubio, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, dismissed reports that Trump has urged Senators to end their own investigation.
"I've never discussed the Senate investigation with him,” Rubio said.