Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks to the media on June 3, 2016 in Doral, Fla.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

Rubio’s old principle: an AG held in contempt ‘should resign’

The House Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt, and soon, the whole Democratic-led House will likely approve the same measure.

According to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), that’s a strong indication that the attorney general should resign – at least according to the standards the Florida Republican laid out seven years ago.

Video unearthed Wednesday by an activist group shows U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio making the case for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign after he was found in contempt of Congress in 2012.

“No one can be above the law, not even the Attorney General,” Rubio says in the clip. He added: “I think an attorney general held in contempt of Congress is someone who should resign.” […]

The clip was released by Republicans for the Rule of Law, a group created by “life-long Republicans dedicated to defending the institutions of our republic,” according to the organization’s website.

At one point in the video, Rubio emphasizes the institutional significance of congressional oversight of the executive branch, concluding that it’s “outrageous that any attorney general, Republican or Democrat, refused to comply with Congress’ constitutional right to hold them accountable and the Justice Department accountable.”

The senator quickly added, “I would say that if this was a Republican.”

Is that so.

Rubio went on to complain about the administration’s use of executive privilege, which led him to believe “there’s something in those documents that they don’t want us to know about. There’s something in there they don’t want the public to be aware of. And I think that’s wrong.”

At the end of the video, we’re reminded that these comments were made in 2012, not 2019.

It wasn’t long before Rubio learned that the clip was making the rounds, and he argued via Twitter yesterday that he believes the accusations against William Barr are less serious than those against Eric Holder seven years ago. Rubio added this morning that the congressional oversight Barr is defying doesn’t count as “real oversight.”

But that’s the funny thing about principles: they’re not supposed to be applied on a case-by-case basis, varying with partisan circumstances. Rubio declared in 2012, “I think an attorney general held in contempt of Congress is someone who should resign.”

What we apparently didn’t realize is that the Republican senator’s principle came with some fine print.