FLASHBACK: Rubio Called Chris Crane ‘Law Enforcement Official’ in 2013, Now Declares Opposite

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a rally at the Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel on February 21, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Washington D.C.

Sen. Marco Rubio has apparently changed his mind on whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council President Chris Crane is an officer. Video from 2013 shows Rubio directly contradicting a claim he made on national television last week regarding Crane.

“We did get input from ICE. I actually met with a gentleman named Chris Crane,” Rubio told constituents in 2013:

His [Crane’s] frustration, and the frustration of many ICE agents, is that they’re not being allowed to enforce the law… I have nothing but the highest respect for the men and women who are on the front lines of trying to enforce our laws even though sometimes the politicians get in the way.

“We welcome input and ideas from Mr. Crane and other law enforcement officials as the Senate works to improve the proposal,” Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant wrote in an April 2013 email to Breitbart News. “We want law enforcement’s input.”

In 2013, when it was politically expedient for Sen. Rubio to name-check ICE officer Chris Crane in order to falsely suggest that Rubio had incorporated law enforcement’s input in a bid to pass the Gang of Eight, Rubio did so.

In 2016, when Crane posed a political threat to Rubio and his donor’s efforts to install him in the White House, Rubio implicitly denounced Crane— an ICE officer of 13 years, a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a lifetime member of the American Legion, and a man whom Jeff Sessions has described as “an American hero.”

Following last week’s release of Crane’s detailed account of how law enforcement was treated “like absolute trash” by Sen. Rubio during Rubio’s effort to ram his donor-backed amnesty bill through the Senate, Rubio appeared on national television and implicitly denounced ICE officer Crane and his service to the nation.

“He’s not an ICE official. He’s the head of a union,” Rubio angrily told Neil Cavuto. Rubio said he would not address Crane’s accusations because it was published by Breitbart News— suggesting that Crane was complicit in pushing “conspiracy theories” about Sen. Rubio’s involvement in the Gang of Eight. “I literally don’t talk about the things they report because they’re basically conspiracy theories and often times manipulated. And that individual is not an ICE official, he’s the head of a union,” Rubio said.

However, this declaration directly contradicts an assertion Rubio told his constituents in 2013.

The footage recorded in April of 2013, was part of that “week’s edition of constituent mailbox.” As Sen. Rubio explains in the video, the footage was one installment of a weekly video put out by his Senate office. “Every week we go into the email box, we go into our mailbox, we pull out some letters or emails that’s indicative of the kind of mail we’re getting, and we read it here on the air and then we answer your questions,” Rubio explained. [The relevant portion begins at 1:09].

In that week’s edition, Rubio read aloud one letter from a constituent named Ross from Melbourne, Florida who asked: “Why isn’t your Gang of Eight calling on ICE for their input into border security?”

“We did get input from ICE,” Rubio said in his efforts to diffuse the criticism leveled by his constituent. “I actually met with a gentleman named Chris Crane, he’s the president of the union for the ICE agents. We met for about an hour, an hour and a half… His frustration, and the frustration of many ICE agents, is that they’re not being allowed to enforce the law… These are valid points that we’ve heard… We have taken their input. We continue to seek their input. And I have nothing but the highest respect for the men and women who are on the front lines of trying to enforce our laws even though sometimes the politicians get in the way.”

Rubio insisted that his Obama-backed amnesty plan would help ICE officers: “I think this is going to help them in the long term,” Rubio said.

In an April 2013 email to Breitbart News Rubio’s chief spokesman—now his campaign spokesman—Alex Conant suggested that Crane is indeed an ICE official:

Senator Rubio did meet with Mr. Crane, and we welcome his suggestions to improve the bill… Our legislation is not a take-it or leave-it proposition – we welcome input and ideas from Mr. Crane and other law enforcement officials as the Senate works to improve the proposal… Ultimately, we share Mr. Crane’s frustrations with the current, broken immigration system and his frustrations with the current Administration’s failure to enforce our laws. That is why we’re working to fix the system, and why we want law enforcement’s input.

However, as Breitbart News reported at the time, even though Rubio touted his last-minute meeting with Crane after the bill was written, Rubio left the bill unchanged— dismissing all of ICE officers’ concerns. Immediately following their meeting, Crane wrote Rubio a letter in which he said:

As you know, and speaking on behalf of our nation’s ICE agents and officers, I believe there are many crucial measures missing from this legislation that must be resolved before it is introduced… Based on news reports, it is my understanding that you are filing the bill today… I hope that can be delayed so that our officers and experts can provide real legislative input on the areas we discussed last night: the lack of ICE resources, how current ICE enforcement practices leave the nation open to tactics used by the 9/11 terrorists, DHS directives that release dangerous criminal aliens back into our communities; the need for biometric exit/entry, the administration’s dangerous abuse of prosecutorial discretion, our inability to make street arrests, the breakdown of enforcement in our jails, the disciplining of officers for doing their jobs – these are only some of the many crucial interior enforcement issues not addressed in this legislation.

As Crane explained at a press conference with Senator Jeff Sessions after the bill was introduced:

Almost one month ago, we asked for a meeting with the Gang of Eight to discuss law enforcement concerns… They told us they weren’t taking meetings but they were meeting all along with special interests and pro-amnesty groups. Finally, after public pressure grew, I got a late Monday night meeting with Sen. Rubio the day before this almost-1,000-page bill was introduced. I raised my many public safety concerns and pleaded with him not to drop the bill until these public safety concerns with law enforcement were addressed. They dropped it anyway… [the bill will] put the public safety at risk without doubt. It fails on interior enforcement, it’s amnesty first, enforcement perhaps never… Unfortunately, I do not believe that the Gang of Eight is a group that we can trust with a matter so important to the safety of American communities and security of our nation.

Indeed, Breitbart News’ reporting at the time confirms Crane’s account of events—namely, that Rubio allowed Crane to be forcibly ejected the Gang of Eight’s press conference when he tried to ask a question on behalf of law enforcement. As Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle reported at the time:

After the press conference, according to The Daily Caller, Crane showed up at the press conference at which the Gang of Eight introduced their bill. He asked the senators if they would take a question from law enforcement. Instead of taking the question, Rubio and the other Gang of Eight senators watched idly and allowed Capitol Hill police to peacefully escort Crane from the press conference. No law enforcement figures publicly endorsed the Gang of Eight bill at that event.

Trump Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller has previously explained that “If you look at the one consistent through line of his [Rubio’s] career, it is that every decision appears to be perfectly calculated to try and open America’s borders.”

When Crane’s status as an ICE officer could help Rubio pass his border opening immigration bill, Rubio went out of his way to cite his meeting with Crane. When Crane’s status as an ICE officer could hurt Rubio’s path to the presidency— a position that would give Rubio more leverage to enact the immigration policies supported by many of his donors— Rubio denounced Crane.

As Crane explained in his interview last week with Breitbart News: “In my opinion, Sen. Rubio absolutely knowingly mislead the American people regarding the bill. He was not telling the American public the truth about what that bill contained… I think it’s clear that open borders and amnesty proponents are trying to buy their way into the White House. I think that if elected President, Sen. Rubio’s Gang of Eight bill will be reintroduced and this time it will pass. Voters beware.”