Florida Sen. Rubio named acting chair of intelligence panel

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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May. 5, 2020. The panel is considering Ratcliffe’s nomination for director of national intelligence. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will temporarily become chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican leaders announced Monday, taking charge of the panel at a time of turnover and tension in the nation’s intelligence community.

Rubio will replace North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, who said last week that he would step aside after federal agents examining his recent stock sales showed up at his home with a warrant to search his cellphone. Friday was his last day in the position.

Along with House and Senate leaders and the top Democrat and Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rubio will now have access to some of the highest-level secrets in Congress. A former Republican presidential candidate who eventually endorsed Donald Trump in 2016, he has also worked with Democrats on the panel on its investigation into Russian election interference and other matters.

Rubio’s promotion comes amid occasional tension between the White House and the intelligence community. Trump has fired, ousted or moved aside multiple officials in the last year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Rubio’s appointment. McConnell said that he was a “natural choice” and that congressional oversight was needed “to keep partisan bias and political interference out of these sensitive activities.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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