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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Mornings with Maria on Fox Business to discuss the Bob Woodward book and the Administration’s response to COVID-19, the risk Chinese state-owned enterprises pose to U.S. national security, today’s vote on a Senate stimulus plan, and Volume 5 of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia report. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here

 

On the Bob Woodward book and the Administration’s response to COVID-19:

“I haven’t read the book and we have so much going on here, I’m probably not going to read it… Despite what you heard on that tape, they did the ban of entry from China, they began to move the operation of government, they ultimately mobilized private industry to have ventilators — at one time there was a real fear that we would have a shortage of those. We are going to have a vaccine faster than any time in the history of the world, and it’s going to be a real vaccine not a fake Russian one. So these are all things that have happened and have been mobilized, and they deserve credit for it. 

“Now, do I prefer that American people had been told, more fully, sort of the risks and the threat early on? Sure. I think, there is always the risk if he had done that in January or early February I could guarantee we would have seen the same reaction that we got when we did the China travel ban and there would have been criticism -- he’s trying to deflect from impeachment, he’s trying to rile people up. In fact, there were multiple media outlets that were downplaying the virus threat to the country. But that said, I think in hindsight, a few extra weeks on the front end having done more about it would have certainly been helpful, but I don't think that negates all the positive things that they have done to help us respond to this truly impressive and historic challenge.”

On why Rubio is requesting Treasury Secretary Mnuchin conduct a full CFIUS review of the acquisition of GNC by Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese pharmaceutical company: 

“First of all, one of the things Chinese state-owned enterprises have been able to do is to go in as investors and sort of buy up these companies or get ahold of them when they’re in distress. Now, people say who cares about a vitamin company, GNC. It is about data. GNC holds data on millions of Americans that have been their customers... 

“Data, personal data on individuals, is probably the most valuable commodity in the world today because everything is going to be built on big data. Everything from intelligence and national security, to the way we sell commercial products, the delivery of precision medicine. And to just turn that over to a country like China that has a clear, not just mercantilist economic policy, but a predatory one in which they seek not simply to overtake the United States, but to be the dominant geopolitical and economic power in the world is a self-inflicted wound. So that’s the reason why we care about the GNC sale. It’s not the vitamins, it’s the data. And that needs to be reviewed because that’s the data of millions of Americans that will belong to the Chinese government.”

On the risk of China collecting the data of Americans:

“Well they most certainly have the ability to if they so wanted it. Any Chinese company that tells you that that’s not true is being disingenuous. Chinese law basically says, ‘If we tell you we want the data you have to give it to us.’ By the way, that’s the issue with TikTok — it’s not the videos, it’s the data. They are collecting extraordinary amounts of data on the people using it, and that happens to be younger Americans. Today they’re teenagers, 10 or 15 years from now they’ll be our national security leaders, and 25 years from now they’ll be the CEOs of important companies.

“And all of that data accumulated over time gives them information, not just about them, but the people in their lives. Most 14-year-olds don't own their own phone — that phone is provided to them by a family and parents and others. Again, I just can't emphasize enough how important data is in the 21st century, and how being able to steal it and operationalize it the way the Chinese government can poses a threat to this country.” 

On the risks Chinese state-owned enterprises pose to U.S. national security:

“Microsoft has worked for the Department of Defense, but we don't own Microsoft, we don't own AT&T, we don't own Google or Amazon. In the case of these [Chinese] companies, they are structured like independent, but no company in China is independent, none, they are all under control of the government.

“So imagine, if you are one of these companies, just think a technology company, and you are now providing, like Huawei, service for broadband, rural service for 5G and so forth, that also happens to be strategically located near important American military installations, or you make these surveillance cameras that have been installed in military facilities, all of that creates opportunities for backdoors where China doesn’t have to send spies.

“They can just use a backdoor to get into the camera, get into the internet, get into the 5G network, and have a real-time presence in our country near military bases here and our bases around the world, through companies they control and have to do whatever the Chinese government and military tell them to do. So it is a very dangerous situation, it is important.”

On U.S. companies opposed to efforts to limit U.S. investment into Chinese companies that pose a direct threat to U.S. national and economic security:

“I think [companies] are looking for a rate of return on their shares, they want value for their shareholders, they want good quarterly performance, and investing in companies that have almost exclusive access to the most populous nation on Earth is attractive to them, both in the short and midterm.

“But that’s a big blind spot for us because it’s also driving American investment dollars away from creating jobs in places in our country that have been deindustrialized and gutted, and towards building [China’s] national champions that pose a threat to our national security. You talk about the Thrift Savings Fund, think about the irony of this: members of the U.S. military have their funds invested for retirement in that fund and then that money is being used to invest in companies that are building the weapons designed to kill them. That’s how ridiculous it is.”

On today’s vote on the Senate stimulus plan: 

“Well it should [pass], because it will make things better. And that’s the thing, we can't do everything, if we can do something to make things better, this will help people. It isn’t ultimately probably going to become law, because I believe Nancy Pelosi and Senator Schumer have made the decision that they are better off doing nothing politically for November. In essence, they’ve calculated, let’s do nothing, things will get really bad, people will be hurting, they’ll blame Donald Trump and they’ll vote against Republicans in November. That’s the calculation they've made. And as long as that’s the calculation they hold, I think they’re going to object to doing anything, and they made that decision a while back.

“It’s unfortunate, I think rank-and-file Democrats are ready to do a deal, but they're not allowing them to negotiate or talk to us, and as a result, small businesses, individual Americans, schools, are all going to be hurt, are not going to get funds that are right there, we can vote on it and pass it, because Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have decided that it is better off for them in November, and Joe Biden, if we do nothing so things get bad and Donald Trump gets blamed for it.”

On Volume 5 of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan Russia Report and the Steele dossier: 

“If you go through the final volume of the report, it basically shows you what we said. One of the things that the report basically points to, that I pointed to, was perhaps the single biggest piece of foreign interference in 2016 was the Steele dossier. It was prepared by a foreigner using foreign sources, they tried to inject it into the campaign, back in October of that year they were shopping it around to the media, and the FBI gave it credibility when they should not. And they gave it credibility against the advice and the strenuous objections of the Intelligence Community, they told them don't use this stuff and the FBI moved forward on it anyway, and there needs to be consequences for that.”