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ICYMI: Rubio Joins Special Report
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Special Report with Bret Baier to discuss Prigozhin’s armed rebellion in Russia and the origins of COVID-19. See below for highlights and watch the full interview on YouTube and Rumble.
On the logic behind Prigozhin’s armed rebellion in Russia:
“It’s actually like a mafia movie, and I don’t mean to trivialize it. Prigozhin has been more effective than the Russian military, and he’s been rubbing it in their face for a long time, putting out videos showing that his guys are strong, and the Russian military is weak and their leaders are weak.
“He eventually figured they’re going to come for him at some point, he’d better go for them before they come for him. By them, I mean Gerasimov and Shoigu. Why he goes to Rostov is to get his hands on them and try to maybe arrest them, put them on trial, kill them, whatever he was going to do. He gets there and they’re not there, but he takes over the Ministry of Defense, which is very embarrassing. He takes over the Ministry of Defense’s operations, running the Ukrainian War, and then he marches to the outskirts of Moscow.
“At that point, he has two choices. The first is he concluded, ‘I probably embarrassed these guys enough, I imagine Putin will now fire them, because look how far I got on their watch.’ The other is he probably calculated that he probably can’t win an all-out assault on Moscow. Here comes the fake president of Belarus with some promises, so [Prigozhin] takes that off ramp. We don’t know where he is now, but he takes the off ramp.
“Then Putin goes on TV tonight and says, ‘Whatever they promised you, we’re not sticking by it, you’re still going to have to face justice,’ which in Putin’s world means death to him and maybe extended members of his family and those around him.
“That’s my best guess, that this was really a coup against the Ministry of Defense. If it led to Putin leaving, that was fine, too. This guy is a former convict turned hotdog salesman turned caterer turned international mercenary. He’s a vicious criminal, just as bad as Putin is in many ways, just without the power. [He is] also a risk taker by nature, throughout his career. Ultimately, I think he felt like they’re going to come after him, he better go after them first and save himself and the guys that work for him. And that’s what happened here.”
On how Prigozhin’s rebellion weakens Putin:
“Two things are going to make [Putin] weaker no matter what. The first is if Wagner is no longer involved in Ukraine, as brutal as they are, they were more effective than the Russian military. If he loses them on the battlefield, they’re going to face the impact of that. We don’t know what the psychological impact is going to be on frontline Russian troops and even on their field commanders, but there’s reason to believe that those field commanders are not big fans of the Russian military leadership and the orders they’ve been giving. We don’t know what the impact is going to be in the short, mid, and long term on the war effort and the morale, which is already low by many accounts among Russian troops.
“The other [thing] is we don’t know what Prigozhin does next. He still controls thousands of men under arms, well trained, well equipped, better fed than the Russian regular military is. We don’t know what happens there next, and we don’t know what else is going on within the internal machinations, because the third weakness is, although Prigozhin is a crook and a criminal, what he says about Gerasimov and Shoigu is true. They are incompetent, corrupt, and inept, and they remain in position. I think that’s going to have a continued impact on the Russian effort as well.”
On the underwhelming nature of the Intelligence Community’s report on the origins of COVID-19:
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that [the report] was released on a Friday afternoon when Congress was out of town. It still has a classified annex to it, even when the law we passed said to declassify everything. There must have been a presidential national security exception to keep the classified annex. I’m very interested to see it and to see where it’s justified.
“When you have a murder trial, there’s all kinds of evidence: the DNA was there, the weapon matches the weapon that the assailant had in their hands, their alibi, the phone records were pinging the towers. We’re going to see that in the Idaho murder trial. We’ve seen it in multiple trials. That’s the case here. If what we’re hoping for is some intelligence that shows two scientists on the phone saying, ‘We have this pandemic, we caused it,’ that’s silly. We may never see that. But I do think there’s a tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence that, taken as a whole and combined with common sense, leads you to believe that the lab leak theory is the most highly probable.
“It begins with the fact that two years into this, two and a half years later, the Chinese have not yet produced the animal. [The Chinese] have never come forward and stated, ‘Here’s the animal with the virus,’ unlike they did with MERS and SARS. They still haven’t done that. On the other hand, we know, including from the investigative report my staff and I released, that [China] was already talking about serious bio lab safety incidents occurring there as early as the summer of 2019. In September 2019, they were drilling for a pandemic. There was mention of a novel coronavirus, even back then.
“All of this was not even from intelligence sources. We were able to find it open source before they took it off the internet, through a Mandarin-speaking employee of mine. In my view, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelmingly now on the side of the lab leak theory. Eventually that’s going to be revealed, whether it’s now or in 30 years, when some new government in China admits it.”