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On Repercussions for Trump, Marco Rubio Tells Jake Tapper: ‘No One in This Country’ is ‘Above the Law’

On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, anchor Jake Tapper interviewed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on several items, notably the charges against Trump fixer Michael Cohen and the administration’s response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the alleged behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. On both issues, Rubio stressed that no one, including President Donald Trump, is or should be “above the law.’

Tapper outlined the situation with Cohen, and then asked Rubio, “you were a candidate for president in 2016 running against Donald Trump. Does it bother you that they were breaking campaign laws, allegedly, in order to win the election?”

“Well, not from that — not about me. I mean, when that happened, I was well outside of the race,” said Rubio, making it less about his own run. “It’s about the country. It’s about what our laws are and about the fact that no one should be above the law.”

“From the very beginning of all of this, I have said, what we deserve is the truth. No one is beneath the law, meaning no one is not entitled to the protections of it, but, also, no one is above it,” he said, repeating that line.

Rubio naturally held out a wait-and-see position on guilt or the ultimate outcome of these proceedings, but said that what has come out so far, “cannot and should not be ignored.”

Tapper pressed him to be more specific: “If it is proven that the president directed an aide to commit felonies to influence the election, what should the repercussions be?”

“Well, again, we’re speculating, right, because we don’t know what additional information the Justice Department have,” said the Senator. “You have someone here who’s facing criminal charges, who is facing sentencing, and is looking for leniency saying one thing. And it’s not atypical people to be very cooperative and sometimes to stretch the truth. I’m not saying that’s what’s happened here. And you have someone who denies it.”

“If someone has violated the law, the — the application of the law should be applied to them, like it would to any other citizen in this country,” he reemphasized. “Obviously, if you’re in a position of great authority, like the presidency, that would be the case.”

He said again that on any future actions or repercussions, his decisions would be based on “the fact that we are a nation of laws, and no one in this country, no matter who you are, is above it.”

Tapper pressed further, saying that’s it not merely a he-said, he-said situation between Trump and Cohen. “The Southern District of New York U.S. attorney is asserting this. And that was what was stark about the different language. They weren’t just saying, according to Cohen, such and such. They were saying, this — this happened.”

Rubio said again that they just don’t know all the facts yet, and in a brief exchange said pardoning Paul Manafort would be a huge mistake for Trump, and then the topic turned to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

“You introduced a resolution that finds the Saudi crown prince — quote — “complicit” in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the president has not done, asserted that he was complicit,” said Tapper leading up to his question. “Do you think the White House is — is standing up for American values here?”

“Here’s what I can tell you. The American — this story is as much about America as it is about Khashoggi,” said Rubio. “Obviously, what happened to that man is terrible. But it’s also about who we are as a nation. The alliance with Saudi Arabia is a very important alliance. Our alliance is the Saudi alliance, not an alliance with the crown prince, with the Saudis. And so it is an alliance that has limits, like any alliance would. This is a crown prince that is a reckless individual. He’s young. He’s immature. But, in addition to that, he is reckless. And if we — he’s going to continue to test the boundaries of what he can get away with internationally and within our alliance, until those boundaries are set.”

Rubio stated that “we don’t need direct evidence that he ordered the code red on this thing.”

“The bottom line is that there is no way that 17 people close to him got on a charter plane, flew to a third country, went into a consulate, killed and chopped up a man, and flew back, and he didn’t know about it, much less order it,” Rubio continued. “And we don’t need any other — those — it just stretches credibility to believe that, in a country like that — this is not some decentralized country — that, in a country like that, a man with his power, his influence and his control did not know it and did not order it. It’s just not believable.”

He said that it this situation has to say something about the United States, and that’s why they filed the resolution. “we cannot basically be a nation that says, when our allies do something horrifying, we’re going to look away.”

He said it’s an “important alliance” and that he isn’t recommending altering it, but stated that “there has to be accountability for what happened here, and it has to be clear to the world that America is not a supporter of it and is not going to be a facilitator of these sorts of crimes.” The implication clearly that Trump is unwilling to do it and that’s why the Senate must step in.

Also on Sunday, Rubio spoke at greater length on the topic of a pardon for Paul Manafort in his interview with This Week.

Watch the clip above, courtesy of CNN.

[Featured image via screengrab]

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