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Donald Trump,Marco Rubio,Mario Diaz-Balart,Carlos Hernandez
President Donald Trump is greeted by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as Trump's arrived on Air Force One at Miami International Airport on April 16, 2018.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP file

The one thing that makes Trump's Rubio endorsement remarkable

Trump expects people to believe Rubio exonerated him in the Russia scandal. Even by Trump standards, that's spectacularly untrue.


Donald Trump has been unusually active over the last couple of days issuing endorsements of sitting Republican senators. The former president got the ball rolling yesterday, throwing his support behind Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) -- who hasn't yet said whether he's running for re-election -- before also endorsing Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who isn't seen as vulnerable.

One assumes that if either (or both) of the GOP senators prevail, Trump will boast to the world that they were certain to lose before he valiantly came to their rescue.

This morning, the former president added to the list, announcing an endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), which wouldn't have been especially notable, except for one thing.

After praising Rubio as a champion for his constituents, Trump added, "He also ruled that 'President Trump was in no way involved with Russia,' as he presided over the Senate Intelligence Committee on the FAKE Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax."

At face value, this is entirely in line with the former president's worldview: Rubio "ruled" in a way that Trump liked, so in his transactional approach to all things, it means that the Florida Republican has earned an endorsement.

The trouble, of course, is that Trump's assessment is spectacularly wrong, even by his standards.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane -- all the way back to a bygone era known as last summer.

In an era of bitter partisanship, the Senate Intelligence Committee's multi-volume report on the Russia scandal was oddly reassuring. By all appearances, the panel's Republican and Democratic leaders worked constructively on a comprehensive investigation, which produced important revelations, some of which were even more enlightening than those found in Robert Mueller's report.

It's a shame that Trump didn't read the materials, because they were informative in important ways. As we've discussed, the Senate Intelligence Committee -- led at the time by Rubio -- confirmed for the public that Vladimir Putin's government targeted U.S. elections in 2016 for the express purpose of helping elevate Trump to power. The same committee findings also confirmed that Trump's political operation sought Russian assistance, embraced Russian assistance, capitalized on Russian assistance, lied about Russian assistance, and took steps to obstruct the investigation into Russian assistance.

The Rubio-led panel went on to confirm that during the 2016 campaign, Trump's campaign chairman was in direct, frequent, and secret communication with a Russian intelligence officer, tasked by the Kremlin with helping run Moscow's influence operations abroad. Trump's operation also shared internal information with the Russian operative during its attack on our elections.

The same Senate Intelligence Committee report documented the Trump campaign's willingness to assist the Russian attack on our election, amplifying the leaks of Democratic materials stolen by Kremlin-linked operatives, and highlighted "coordination" between Team Trump and Wikileaks, which was responsible for releasing the documents stolen by Russia.

The report at one point literally described "direct" connections between "senior Trump Campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services."

It's precisely why the committee's Democratic members examined the evidence and issued a public statement that read in part, "This is what collusion looks like."

The former president apparently expects people to see these findings as an exoneration. That's hopelessly bonkers.