Rubio to lead Senate Intel Committee amid Burr investigation

Rubio to lead Senate Intel Committee amid Burr investigation
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad GOP Miami mayor does not commit to voting for Trump MORE (R-Fla.) will take over as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Biden campaign adds staff in three battleground states Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? MORE (R-N.C.) stepped aside last week amid a federal investigation into recent stock sales. 

“I am glad to announce that Senator Marco Rubio has accepted my invitation to serve as Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok MORE (R-Ky.) announced on Monday.

“The senior senator for Florida is a talented and experienced Senate leader with expertise in foreign affairs and national security matters. Senator Rubio was the natural choice for this temporary assignment on the basis of accumulated committee service. His proven leadership on pertinent issues only made the decision easier," McConnell added. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Rubio had been viewed as a likely successor to Burr. He's second in line in seniority on the panel after Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque Progressive group backs Democratic challenger to Sen. Risch Republicans start bracing for shutdown fight in run-up to election MORE (R-Idaho), who already chairs the Foreign Relations Committee and was viewed as likely to stay put.

Rubio confirmed that he would be serving as chairman in an acting capacity. 

"The Committee has long been one that conducts its work seriously, and I look forward to continuing that tradition," he said in a statement. 

Rubio, who currently chairs the small business panel, acknowledged last week that he was willing to take over the Intelligence Committee at least temporarily as the FBI investigates Burr's transactions. 

Burr's decision to step aside has set off a round of musical chairs on the Senate committees. 

ADVERTISEMENT

If Risch had taken over the Intelligence Committee gavel, Rubio would have been in line to take over the Foreign Relations Committee. 

"I'll do whatever they ask but it's not up to me," Rubio told reporters. "I'll do whatever wherever. I mean, they're both great committees — they're my two big ones."

No announcement has been made on who will lead the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

McConnell said on Thursday that Burr had decided to step aside as chairman of the committee pending the outcome of the FBI's investigation.

The Department of Justice has been conducting a probe since March over Burr's sale of up to $1.72 million in stocks earlier this year. The stocks were sold in early February after senators received closed-door briefings on the national threat posed by the coronavirus, before most Americans were warned about the potential economic fallout of the pandemic.

Federal investigators seized Burr's cell phone last week as part of its probe. 

Burr has denied wrongdoing but said that he was stepping down so that the investigation did not distract from the Intelligence Committee's work. 

Rubio's ascension comes at a critical time. The panel is expected to vote on Tuesday on Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeIn Russian bounty debate, once again this administration lacks intelligence Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Former Trump intelligence officials say they had trouble briefing him on Russia: report MORE's (R-Texas) nomination to be the next director of national intelligence. 

Burr and Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats MORE (D-Va.) also announced on Friday that the committee had submitted the fifth and final volume of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which pertains to its counterintelligence findings, to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for classification review.

The panel also said it submitted nearly 1,000 pages with redaction recommendations in the hopes that it may help speed up the review process for an unclassified version of the report to be approved.

"Senator Rubio has been a great partner on intelligence and national security issues and I look forward to working with him in his new role as Acting Chairman," Warner said Monday.

—Updated at 4:54 p.m.