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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio: I'll make Cuba recommendations to Trump (w/ video)

27

November

Sen. Marco Rubio affirmed Sunday that his goal is to reverse President Obama’s overtures toward Cuba but suggested he was for some change.

Appearing on Meet the Press, the Florida Republican also said it was worth investigating possible Russian interference in elections, though was careful in his response.

He also said questions about Donald Trump’s business ties are valid though trusts the guidance Trump will get from White House counsel.

Rubio also sought a middle ground on immigration, saying Obama’s DACA program should expire but there should be a way for people to “attain some legal status through a legal way, not an unconstitutional way.”

Moderator Chuck Todd focused on the death of Fidel Castro.

“So you're going to fight to lift, to put back in, the travel sanctions on commercial and private travel?” he asked Rubio. “Are you going to put Cuba back on the state sponsor of terrorism list? Are you going to close the embassy? What-- what are you going to do?”

Rubio: “Our goal is to figure out what can we do, through U.S. policy, to, number one, look out for the national interest of the United States, and number two, to help create an environment where we are creating the potential for a transition to democratic order in Cuba at some point in the near future,” Rubio said.

“So we would examine every policy to see whether or not that policy helps us down the line. And I would add to that that I do think that many of these things, whether it's increase remittances, increase travel, but particularly, some of the banking regulations which I believe are illegal to begin with, that some of these banking changes that have been made, they should all be conditioned upon specific changes on the part of the Cuban government.

“For example, I think that, as long as they are harboring fugitives of American justice like Joanne Chesimard, who killed a New Jersey State Trooper and has been living in Cuba, protected by the Cuban government, that should be specifically tied to something that we're doing over here. Not to mention Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Organization.

"On the other hand, I have never said that I'm against all changes to Cuba policy. I'm just against unilateral changes from which we get nothing in return for our country or for the freedom or liberty of the Cuban people. So I would look at the model of what we've done with Myanmar or Burma as an example of how you can condition openings in exchange for democratic changes on the part of the other government. And that did not happen here. So we'll examine the entire thing. We'll make suggestions to the Trump administration."

 

More from the interview:


                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Speaking of the Trump administration, are you concerned about Donald Trump's business ties and the fact that there really isn't a conflict of interest law that governs how he's supposed to handle his business as president?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Well, as I said, I mean he's obviously someone who's not held public office. So he's going into the presidency. He has business ties. We knew that. Voters knew that when he got elected. And now he'll hire, I imagine, a White House counsel, already has. And they're going to work through that and decide the appropriate way to separate himself from his business endeavors.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
What do you think is appropriate?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Well, first of all, I don't know the extent-- I really don't know the entire--
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Isn't that part of the problem?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
--nature of his-- in terms of what? I'm sorry.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
That we don't know, you don't know. Shouldn't you know the nature? Shouldn't we, in the public, all know the nature of his business dealings around the world now?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Sure. And my sense is that he's going to declare those now, as he moves forward. And that will be the job of the White House Counsel to lay out exactly what his business interests are and what they are doing to separate those from the decisions he's making in the White House.
 
I imagine they're well aware that this is something they're going to have to confront. As I said, the elections have been less than three weeks away. So they're working through a transition process. There's nothing wrong with expecting them to show that. And I expect that they will.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Let me ask you this. It was interesting. You issued statements praising Donald Trump's choice of Mike Pompeo for C.I.A.. You praised him for picking Nikki Haley for ambassador to the U.N.. But we noticed you didn't have any statements for Mike Flynn as National Security Advisor or Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Should we read anything into that? First, Mike Flynn.
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
No. Mike Flynn doesn't come before Senate confirmations. That's why we didn't comment on it. And I'm not on the judiciary committee, which Jeff Sessions will have to go through before he reaches anything I have to vote on. The three you mentioned, Nikki Haley go through the Foreign Relations Committee, which I sit on.
 
Pompeo will go through the Intelligence Committee, which I sit on. And I also happen to know both of them well and know them personally. I also know Jeff Sessions. We have a good working relationship. But I'll respect the process that we have, which means he'll have to go through the process of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And if he emerges from that, then he'll go to the full Senate. And at that point, I'll have something to say. It's the way we've handled basically every nomination, for the most part, under President Obama and now under President-Elect Trump.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
So you're not ready to say if you'll support the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
No, I never do until that person works their way through the process. Now, in the case of Pompeo and Nikki Haley, they'll come through our committee. I think they were a good choice. They'll still have to go through the same process as anybody else. And if something emerges from that, which I don't expect, then obviously we'll comment on it.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Speaking of your committee, you had said, for instance, you would not talk about Wikileaks at all during the campaign. You said the Russian government was involved, and you thought it was inappropriate. And you knew that, okay, this was hurting the Democrats today, tomorrow it could be your party.
 
You are chair of a sub-committee on Western Hemisphere Trans-National Crime, Civilian Security, democracy, human rights and global women's issues. You could call your own hearing investigating, because this could be a crime that was committed by the Russian government into when it came to Wikileaks. Do you plan on investigating if no other committee steps up and does it?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Well first of all, in order for us to investigate that in my sub-committee, we'd need the permission of the full committee. And I imagine that Senator Corker may have an opinion on that. He may himself want to do that. You'll have to ask him. I'm open to--
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Do you want--
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Look, here's the bottom line. If a foreign government has been involved in injecting chaos into our democratic process, the American people deserve to know that. I've made my feelings known in the midst of the campaign.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Right.
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
And I will continue to focus on that. And I will just say to you that I think it would be inappropriate, and it's something that we should not allow to stand without informing the American people of that reality. Let me just say this. I've never said it's the Russian government, although I believe it was the work of a foreign government.
 
I will say this. If you look at what happened during our election and the sort of things that were interjected into the election process, they are very similar to the sort of active measures that you've seen the Russians use in the past in places like Eastern Europe, to interfere with the elections of other countries. And what we mean by "interfere" is they try to undermine the credibility of the election. They try to undermine individual leaders. And they try to create chaos in the political discourse. And the fundamental argument behind it is they want people to-- they want to de-legitimize the process.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Is it worthy of Congressional scrutiny?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Absolutely.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
All right. And final question. Donald Trump is going to rescind a lot of executive orders that President Obama made. Let me ask you one specifically. It's called DACA, essentially for Dreamers, granting essentially amnesty, we can shorthand it here, amnesty for those who were brought into this country as children so that they're protected and not deported. What is your recommendation to Donald Trump on that specific executive order?
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
So my recommended would be that there are people that have already availed themselves of that, and that there's a period of time for that. I would not retroactively remove their status. I would say that, from some point forward, people will not be allowed to apply for renewal for that status. And that will give us a defined period of time to work through this, beginning with border security and modernization of the legal immigration system. But then quickly--
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
So don't rescind it immediately.
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Well, people already have it. So someone has that DACA permit. But it's not indefinite. It expires. And what I would say is, if you have it, you'll have it for the remainder of that period of time, but you will not be able to renew it. In the meantime, and it's not a long period of time, but it does give us the time to do border security, modernization, and then move to something very reasonable for people like those who came here as children, or those who have been here for a long time who are not criminals to allow them to attain some legal status through a legal way, not an unconstitutional way, which is what DACA is.
                                                                        CHUCK TODD:
Senator Marco Rubio, I've got to leave it there. Republican from Florida, always good to have you on sharing your views.
                                                                        MARCO RUBIO:
Thank you.

[Last modified: Sunday, November 27, 2016 4:19pm]

    

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