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Rubio: Trump comments with Putin 'not a good moment' for the administration

Rubio: Trump comments with Putin 'not a good moment' for the administration
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDeSantis derides 'failed Republican establishment' at CPAC The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display Mehdi Hasan gets MSNBC Sunday prime-time show MORE (R-Fla.) said Sunday that President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was "not a good moment," but said he has no issue with the two men meeting again later this year.

"I think it's an important thing that we engage [Putin]. I just think it's important that any conversation we have with Vladimir Putin is with the person who he really is," Rubio said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"This is a guy who clearly ... does not believe in a win-win scenario with the U.S. He's a big believer in zero-sum game," he added. "He thinks the way to make Russia stronger is to weaken America and as long as we're clear about it, I think it's important that the nations speak to one another and that our leaders speak to one another and I think that most of our European allies have encouraged that."

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Rubio was among the Republicans who were critical of Trump's performance during a press conference last week with Putin in which the president cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the election.

The president and White House spent the rest of the week walking back or clarifying various statements Trump made during his press conference with Putin. The president later expressed confidence in his intelligence officials, and claimed he misspoke when he suggested he didn't believe it was Russia that interfered.

Rubio, who has co-authored a bill that would increase sanctions on Russia if it interferes in future elections, said Sunday he was pleased Trump clarified his remarks and backed the intelligence community.

"At this point, we can't go back and change what happened. ... As I said, it was not a good moment, but it was what it was," Rubio said. "We need to move forward from that with good public policy. And part of that is, I think, standing with our intelligence community."

Rubio added that he believes policy is more important than rhetoric, and that Trump's rhetoric has not reached a point where it undermines U.S. policy.

"At the end of the day, I am never going to side with Vladimir Putin, we should never side with him against our own government and against our own people," Rubio said. "No matter what you are, Democrat or Republican, we wouldn't want any country in the world involved in trying to influence the outcome of our elections or the direction of our elections."