Following the Paris terrorist attacks last week, Marco Rubio reversed his previous stance on allowing Syrian refugees into the country. On Wednesday, Rubio was scheduled to attend a classified briefing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where the United States' role in the aftermath of those attacks would be discussed. Instead, the presidential hopeful skipped out on it and attended a big-money fundraiser in California.
The meeting, which featured State Department officials, a Homeland Security official, and a senior intelligence officer, reportedly discussed the Syrian refugee issue as well as the threat of terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks, and Rubio would have gotten information very few are privy to. The briefing, called “The Aftermath of Paris: America’s Role," was for those who have clearance only. Since Rubio is the only presidential candidate who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, it was a golden opportunity for him to get ahead on the biggest topic of the day.
Instead, Rubio skipped out on the meeting to attend a $1,000-a-plate dinner fundraiser in Newport Beach, California.
It didn't take long for the Democratic National Committee to pounce on the senator and call him out on it.
"While the rest of the world is focused on the terror attacks in Paris, Rubio is skipping critical briefings on national security to focus on high-dollar fundraisers," DNC spokesperson Christina Freundlich said in an email statement. "He excuses his poor voting record by saying the votes he misses don't matter, but it's especially galling when he's missing national security briefings in order to attend ritzy West Coast fundraisers."
One of the biggest criticisms lobbed at Rubio in recent weeks by opponents on both sides has been his missing more Senate votes than any of the other senators running for president. Now he's missing security briefings.
Following the attacks in Paris last week, Rubio publicly reversed his stance on allowing Syrian refugees, telling This Week that there is not proper vetting process in weeding out the bad seeds that might be coming in and railing against a lack of background checks for the refugees.
"The problem is we can’t background-check them," he said Sunday. "You can’t pick up the phone and call Syria. And that’s one of the reasons why I said we won’t be able to take more refugees. It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s that we can’t. Because there’s no way to background-check someone that’s coming from Syria. Who do you call and do a background check on them?
"In the case of what’s happening in Europe, this is a swarm of refugees, and as I’ve said repeatedly over the last few months, you can have 1,000 people come in, and 999 of them are just poor people fleeing oppression and violence but one of them is an ISIS fighter. If that’s the case, you have a problem, and there is no way to vet that out. There is no background-check system in the world that allows us to find that out, because who do you call in Syria to background-check them?"
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.