During a tele town hall on Wednesday evening, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) dropped the hammer on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)—essentially accusing his colleague of lying in criticisms of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Lee, who’s remained neutral in the presidential primary process since he’s friends with both Rubio and Cruz, dismantled Rubio’s criticism of Cruz—without using Rubio’s name—by laying out how Rubio’s claims are “not based in fact.” Lee said:
The USA Freedom Act hasn’t gotten a lot of attention for the last few months since it was passed into law in June and signed into law by the president. It’s all of a sudden starting to get more attention in part because of the terrorist attacks in Paris and then in San Bernardino. It’s also starting to get more attention because a couple of presidential candidates have chosen to bring it up, in part to inflame the fears of some of the American people. But I want to point out that the arguments being made against the USA Freedom Act are not based in fact. In fact, they’re utterly contrary to fact.
I’m trying to set the record straight on that because things that are being said about it are not true. Among other things, I’ve heard some of our presidential candidates claim that it weakens our ability to investigate foreign aggressors who are bent on carrying out acts of terror on the homeland. That argument is utterly false. And it ignores the fact that the USA Freedom Act doesn’t act at all with respect to foreign communications, phone calls either originating outside the United States or originating inside the United States directed outside the United States. So, that argument is completely false.
Some have also said that it somehow impairs our ability to follow up on an attack after it occurs. And, again, that’s not true, because the government still has the ability to go and get a court order authorizing the release of telephone data connected to an actual terrorist investigation. So these arguments are false and they should be dismissed as such. The USA Freedom Act makes the American people freer, and it protects the American people’s privacy interests. It also, coincidentally, makes us safer.
Lee’s remarks to this effect—although he wasn’t naming Rubio specifically; it’s Rubio who’s made such arguments against the USA Freedom Act in an effort to stop the surge of Cruz nationally—represent a significant development in the primary process. Although he’s continuing to remain neutral, hammering Rubio for being dishonest about this matter is sure to help Cruz shore up more conservative support in the battle with Rubio.
Cruz himself has fought back against Rubio on this matter, most recently earlier this week in South Carolina. At an event in Greenville, also attended by Breitbart News, Cruz—with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), also USA Freedom Act supporters at his side—filleted Rubio multiple times throughout the day.
The USA Freedom Act ended President Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA) bulk metadata collection program.