COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) attacked Breitbart News Network repeatedly in an appearance on the Fox News Channel on Saturday morning as he struggled, just like he did during his 2013 push for amnesty as the lead pitchman for the “Gang of Eight” bill, to defend his record on immigration.
In the interview, with Neil Cavuto, Rubio made at least five demonstrably false statements in under two minutes.
“ICE officials now, who are saying that your push for enforcement on the border has not been consistent, that when you were part of that Gang of Eight that you were not making it a priority. When they questioned this Chris Crane of this council group of officers, he said that not one of the changes we suggested was made to the bill before Sen. Rubio introduced—that he tried and failed with you repeatedly. That your heart wasn’t in it,” Cavuto asked Rubio, referring to a Friday evening exclusive interview that Breitbart News’ Julia Hahn had with Chris Crane, an active duty Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer and the current president of the National ICE Council.
Rubio replied by making a series of knowingly false statements attacking Crane’s credibility and attacking the credibility of this news network. Virtually everything Rubio said was inaccurate.
“Number one, that’s not true,” Rubio replied to Cavuto. “And he’s not an ICE official. He’s the head of a union. And it’s being reported on a website that’s not a credible source. It’s the same website that said, Neil, that you guys gave me the questions to the debate because one of the members of my staff is a family member…”
“This was a Breitbart—a Breitbart thing—so you don’t give it any credence or his remarks any credence?” Cavuto followed up.
“We don’t even credential them for our events,” Rubio responded. “This is the same website that reported that Fox News and you and you guys in your debate gave me the questions to the debate so I could prepare. You know that that’s not true. So I literally don’t talk about the things they report because they’re basically conspiracy theories and often times manipulated. That individual is not an ICE official; he’s the head of a union.”
“He’s the head of a council,” Cavuto corrected Rubio.
So, with that said, here are the five inaccurate statements Rubio made about immigration officers and Breitbart News in that Cavuto interview:
1.) Chris Crane is an active duty ICE officer despite Rubio’s claims to the contrary.
First and foremost, Crane—unlike Rubio’s claim in that interview that Crane is “not an ICE official”—is an ICE official. He is a current ICE officer in good standing and has been for 13 years and represents approximately 5,800 frontline ICE officers, agents and personnel as the president of the National ICE Council. The National ICE Council is the union that represents ICE officers. Crane has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions including before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Gang of Eight amnesty bill that Rubio led. Rubio is also well aware of the fact that Crane is a leading law enforcement and ICE official since he met with Crane the night before he introduced the Gang of Eight amnesty bill with Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
2.) Rubio did not fix the concerns law enforcement had with the Gang of Eight bill before it passed the U.S. Senate.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Rubio’s claim that what Crane said—which in essence, as Cavuto detailed in his question to the senator, was that Rubio didn’t include changes to the Gang of Eight bill that law enforcement wanted—is “not true” is also entirely inaccurate.
Rubio did meet with Crane the night before the bill was introduced. And he didn’t change any of the things law enforcement said they were concerned about in that meeting with Rubio. “Senator Rubio left unchanged legislation that he himself admitted to us in private was detrimentally flawed and must be changed,” Crane wrote in a statement back in late June 2013 according to then-Daily Caller reporter Caroline May, who has since joined Breitbart News. That statement from Crane was issued as the bill was being rushed through to final passage in the Senate, after months of markups and hearings that did nothing to change the bill so law enforcement’s concerns, expressed to Rubio in that meeting the night before the bill was introduced, would be addressed.
In addition to that, Crane attempted to ask Rubio and his cohorts in the Gang of Eight a question at the press conference where the bill was being introduced—but instead was removed from the presser by Capitol Hill security. Ex-U.S. Senate staffer Stephen Miller, who worked for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for years before moving to work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign just a few weeks ago, detailed in an interview on Breitbart News Daily how as security removed Crane from the press conference Rubio did nothing to stand up for the law enforcement official.
There are plenty more reports from the time that show Rubio’s retelling of the story now—several years after he treated law enforcement, as Crane said in Friday evening’s Breitbart News exclusive, like “trash”—is inaccurate.
3.) Unlike Rubio’s claim, Breitbart News Network has never reported that Fox News leaked him debate questions ahead of time.
Rubio wasn’t done making inaccurate claims there, after attacking Crane and all the immigration law enforcement officers he represents, he started attacking Breitbart News.
Rubio claimed that the Crane interview was unreliable since it was “being reported on a website that’s not a credible source” and that the website, Breitbart News, is the “same website that said, Neil, that you guys gave me the questions to the debate because one of the members of my staff is a family member…” of a Fox News Channel executive.
“This is the same website that reported that Fox News and you and you guys in your debate gave me the questions to the debate so I could prepare,” Rubio added later. “You know that that’s not true.”
That is an entirely inaccurate portrayal of what Breitbart News has reported. After Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski exposed the fact, in a CNN interview, that Fox News vice president Bill Sammon has a daughter, Brooke Sammon, who works as national press secretary for Rubio, Breitbart News reported the story.
Lewandowski, in the interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, exposed the fact that the “Fox News executive” he was communicating with in the lead up to the Fox News debate before the Iowa caucuses—one that Trump ended up skipping, and instead holding a veterans benefit—has a “daughter [who] works for the Rubio campaign.”
“He’s one of the executives on Fox that writes the debate questions so maybe he has his own ulterior motives, I’m not sure,” Lewandowski said.
Neither the Fox News Channel, before all of their debates, nor the Rubio campaign has ever disclosed that conflict of interest. “It’s no secret Breitbart traffics in conspiracy theories, but this accusation is a whole new level of crazy,” Rubio communications director Alex Conant told Breitbart News at the time this conflict of interest was exposed. “Brooke is a star of our campaign and her integrity and professionalism is second to none. If you’re worried about someone’s integrity, you should do some serious self examination.”
Fox News, to this day, still hasn’t addressed the familial conflict of interest.
But, more importantly, unlike what Rubio told Cavuto, Breitbart News has never reported that Fox News gave Rubio or his campaign the debate questions ahead of time. There’s no way to know whether the Fox News executive father who wrote the questions gave them to his daughter on the Rubio campaign or not, but they probably didn’t—and Breitbart News has never suggested that they did in any of our coverage. But that doesn’t mean that there’s still not a significant conflict of interest there, in much the same way that ABC News has failed to disclose that President Obama attended the wedding of Martha Raddatz to his FCC chairman Julius Genachowski when Raddatz moderated the vice presidential debate in 2012. Or like how CBS executive David Rhodes is the brother of senior Obama administration official Ben Rhodes, something the network frequently doesn’t disclose on broadcasts. But that’s all beside the point: Breitbart News Network has never reported, as Rubio said we did twice today on Fox News, that Fox News gave him the questions to the debates before the debates.
4.) Sen. Rubio and his campaign have repeatedly credentialed Breitbart News reporters for his events.
Fourthly, Rubio’s claim that Breitbart News does not receive credentials to his campaign events by his press staff is also entirely untrue.
“We don’t even credential them for our events,” Rubio said on Fox News.
Throughout the course of his entire presidential campaign, Breitbart News has sent reporters to cover his events frequently. For instance, Sarah Rumpf—then a Breitbart News reporter, now no longer with this network—was sent to cover Rubio’s campaign launch in Miami back in April 2015. She wrote multiple stories from the Rubio campaign launch for this news network at the time, including an exclusive interview with the senator.
Patrick Howley, Breitbart’s lead Hillary Clinton reporter who’s currently on assignment in South Carolina with a group of Breitbart reporters, attended Rubio events with the senator and his campaign and with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) in Iowa—following the Rubio campaign bus around in late 2015.
“Patrick all set with credentials,” Rubio campaign staffer Olivia Perez-Cubas wrote back to several Breitbart News employees and other Rubio campaign staffers in an email on Dec. 23, 2015, about Rubio’s end-of-the-year tour through Iowa from Dec. 28 through Dec. 30. Howley reported from the Rubio campaign events, with Rubio campaign credentials issued by the senator and his team, from Iowa. The email also included the Rubio campaign’s schedule, and Sammon and Conant were included on it as well. Howley, this reporter and the Rubio staffers conversed over the course of several emails about that.
Charlie Spiering, Breitbart’s White House reporter who is credentialed by the White House Correspondents’ Association, was credentialed by Sen. Rubio’s campaign to cover one of his campaign events in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December. Rubio did an exclusive interview with Spiering at that event as well.
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) February 20, 2016
There are many more examples of Rubio’s campaign credentialing Breitbart News reporters—who are credentialed not just by the White House, but also by the U.S. Congress and have been covering campaigns ranging from those of Rubio’s mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to billionaire Donald Trump to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and more—than there are room for on the pages of Breitbart News.
In fact, Bush, Rubio’s mentor, just literally did an interview this week in South Carolina with Breitbart News in which he said at the end of it: “Thanks for your coverage of our campaign.” Most of the coverage of Bush has been like the coverage of Rubio and everyone else: very tough but accurate and fair.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 19, 2016
5.) Marco Rubio himself writes for—and frequently conducts interviews with—Breitbart News despite his “conspiracy theories” claim.
That’s why most everyone in politics, including Rubio’s campaign, has repeatedly—despite the senator’s fifth inaccurate claim in that Fox News interview, that this website is “not a credible source” and somehow spreads “conspiracy theories”—reached out work with us. In 2015, Rubio and his team repeatedly asked for meetings with Breitbart News editors and reporters—which the team here at Breitbart News gladly agreed to—many of which were on the record, some of which were off the record.
Just this week, in fact, Rubio did another exclusive interview with Spiering. Like most of our presidential candidate interviews–and like virtually every Rubio interview–that interview produced multiple articles. Rubio has done multiple interviews with Breitbart News throughout his career in the U.S. Senate, and as a presidential candidate. He’s actually a Breitbart News Network contributor having written multiple op-eds for this site including as recently as Wednesday of this week. All three of Rubio’s op-eds have been published on this website since he was a presidential candidate. This week’s op-ed that Rubio ran exclusively on Breitbart News focused on the national debt, and the two he ran in 2015—both after he launched his presidential campaign, one in July and the other in October—focused on Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate.
Presidential leadership is needed to get our debt under control. https://t.co/E9gaYZVJ64
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 17, 2016