Marco Rubio has doubled down on his smear against immigration law enforcement officers and his attack on Breitbart News.
In a Friday interview on Special Report, Rubio made four demonstrably false declarations to host Bret Baier in under 90 seconds.
1) Rubio implicitly demeaned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council President Chris Crane by declaring that Crane’s desired changes to the Gang of Eight bill pertained to “labor union stuff” rather than the substantive concerns Crane had about how the bill would negatively impact the safety of the American people.
Crane is an ICE officer of 13 years. He is a former U.S. Marine, a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and of the American Legion. Jeff Sessions has described Crane as “an American hero” for blowing the whistle on immigration corruption. In 2012, after President Obama enacted his first executive amnesty, Crane and several of his fellow officers took action and filed a lawsuit against the President for his lawless amnesty.
Yet Rubio seemed determined to portray Crane in a different light–falsely declaring that Crane’s criticisms were about “more kind of labor union stuff”:
He was not advocating on behalf of ICE, he was advocating on behalf of a federal government labor union that represents those officers. And I have incredible admiration for ICE officers and for what they’re doing. But when he talks about the criticisms that he made, you know, he wasn’t doing it on behalf of the agency. We worked with the agency, we worked with him. He gave us a list of recommendations, many of which I fought for, some of which had nothing to do, but he just wanted more kind of labor union stuff.
This, however, is not correct. Crane’s criticisms were not about “labor union stuff.” Rather, Crane’s criticisms were about protecting the American people. For instance, one of Crane’s criticisms was about removing a provision of the bill that would allow sex offenders to get amnesty. As Crane explained in his interview with Breitbart News last week:
Obviously the changes I suggested were all serious enforcement-related issues, such as establishing a biometric entry-exit system, and cracking down on sex offenders, gang members, violent criminals and other criminal aliens. When I walked out of his office that night I definitely thought the bill would undergo significant changes, but of course absolutely no changes were made.
Indeed, Crane outlined these requests in a letter he wrote to Sen. Rubio in 2013 immediately following their meeting. Crane wrote in 2013:
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.
Moreover, Rubio’s assertion that he “fought for” some of Crane’s suggestions is also remarkable given that Rubio did not meet with Crane until mere hours before he introduced his bill. Crane explained that Rubio “never reached out to us.” Rather, Rubio did not meet with Crane until the very last minute–after the bill was crafted. As Crane explained: “We met in the evening and they introduced the bill a few hours later that same night. It doesn’t get much more last minute than that…Not one of the changes we suggested was made to the bill before Sen. Rubio introduced it.”
In his interview last week, Crane explained that Rubio “actively chose to exclude us because of his own personal agenda:”
Law enforcement was treated like absolute trash. Republicans and Democrats in the Gang of Eight saw law enforcement as the enemy. We were the only ones really positioned to tell America that their bill was one big lie that wouldn’t fix our immigration problems but make them worse. They did everything they could to keep us out of the picture and silent. Special interests on the other hand were treated like kings. It was all about money. If we had the money, like the Chamber of Commerce and Mark Zuckerberg, we could buy America an immigration law that put the safety of both the American public and immigrants first, but we don’t. So it looks like America will have to settle for the open borders and cheap labor plan the Chamber of Commerce is buying.
2) Rubio said that Crane “wasn’t speaking on behalf of ICE.”
Rubio told Baier:
First of all, Bret, I didn’t say he wasn’t an ICE officer–I said he was not an ICE official. He was not advocating on behalf of ICE, he was advocating on behalf of a federal government labor union that represents those officers…When I said he wasn’t an ICE official–he wasn’t speaking on behalf of ICE. The question from Neil [Cavuto] made it sound like he was a representative of ICE, the agency–that was advocating for specific public policy. He was representing the union.
This statement is deliberately misleading. As the President of the ICE Council, Crane represents approximately 5,800 frontline ICE officers, agents, and personnel who are responsible for enforcing America’s immigration laws in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Crane was elected by his fellow officers to be their national spokesman. By Rubio’s logic, the concerns articulated by the leader of the Fraternal Order of Police on behalf of the nation’s police officers should similarly be disregarded, because they act as a union.
As the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian tells Breitbart News:
What Rubio seemed to say is that Crane is not an ICE ‘official’–meaning he’s not an Obama appointee in management. That’s true–but all the more reason to give him credence. Rubio is suggesting that he trusts Obama appointees whose mission is to gut ICE over a Maine Corps veteran who’s been on the front lines of enforcement for more than a decade. Sounds like a desperate attempt by Rubio to discredit someone who has the goods on him.
3) Contrary to Rubio’s declaration, Breitbart News Network has never reported that Fox News leaked him debate questions ahead of time.
During his interview, Rubio also made false statements about Breitbart News’s reporting.
Rubio told Baier, “This is the same website that said that because one of my employees has a relative that works for FOX News, you guys were giving me the questions to the debate. Did you give me the questions to the debate, Bret? You didn’t. And that’s what they claimed. And so that’s what I was questioning, was the credibility of the website.”
This is the second time Rubio has made this demonstrably false claim on national television. As Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle reported last week:
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 leadup 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 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.) Rubio himself is a Breitbart News Contributor and gives exclusive interviews to Breitbart despite his claim that Breitbart publishes “conspiracy theories.”
During Rubio’s interview last week, he claimed that Breitbart News publishes “conspiracy theories.” When Baier played Rubio a clip of a separate statement he made in that interview, Rubio doubled down in his questioning “the credibility of the website.”
Yet, as Breitbart News’s Matthew Boyle reported last week:
Despite [Rubio’s claim that]… this website is “not a credible source” and somehow spreads “conspiracy theories”—he 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.