Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Rob Schmitt Tonight to discuss President Biden’s decision to reduce reliance on Russian oil, the Biden Administration’s declaration that Russia has committed war crimes, and more. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here

rob schmitt tonight

On President Biden’s designation of members of the Russian military as war criminals:

“I don't know what took [President Biden] so long. There are already multiple other countries that have said it. Members of Congress have said it. It's unfortunately typical of the Biden Administration’s response to this. They've been lagging. They’ve been reacting to pressure and statements from other countries, members of Congress, even members of the Democratic Party in Congress. 

“[The designation] means individuals who are responsible for war crimes can be charged in front of international tribunals, international criminal courts, and other elements for violation of these treaties, by the way, that their countries are signatories to. There are rules of war, and targeting civilians in a war is a de facto [war crime]. It is one of the definitions of a war crime. Whoever gave that order, whoever carried out that order, is going to be responsible for that and could very well face justice for the rest of their lives.”

On the consequences of being declared a war criminal:

“If you're wanted for international charges of war crimes, you really can't travel many places, because you're afraid that there will be some red notice that will have you arrested and brought before the tribunal. You also don't know if some future Russian government will turn you over.”

On Europe’s energy crisis: 

“On the one hand, Europe was in this bind because they bought into concepts of the world’s Green New Deals. They said, ‘We're not going to use any more nuclear or coal, we're going to rely on renewables and are going to buy natural gas from Russia.’ It led them to be very dependent on Russia. Now they want to break away from it, and they find themselves in a tough spot. 

“There's growing acknowledgement of how vulnerable they left themselves because they outran the technology. They simply can't do a 21st century economy on renewables. The technology is not there. It's ironic that a president who has made that a hallmark of his domestic agenda — that's basically what he's saying, for the United States to stop relying on fossil fuels and start relying on renewables, and [he] is cracking down on the fossil fuel industry in this country — is going abroad, asking places like Saudi Arabia to produce more fossil fuels, and asking countries like those in Europe to become more dependent on those new sources of fossil fuels, as opposed to the natural gas from Russia.” 

On Europe’s energy alternatives:

“The U.S. has some export capacity. Ukraine has untapped capacity. Unfortunately, it’s in the middle of a war. It won't be easy, but Europe has some of the most advanced nuclear technologies. They have nuclear power plants, [but] they walked away from that. That's a very clean source of energy, but again, it's not part of the Green New Deal, and so it's put them in a bind.”

On Putin’s demand that countries buying Russian energy use Russian currency:

What's happening is that these sanctions are in place, and so [Russian companies] can't transact in any other currency. What [Putin is] basically saying is, ‘I'm not gonna refuse to sell you oil, but you can only buy it if you pay me in my currency.’ Countries are going to say, ‘We don't want to pay you in your currency, because your currency is worthless.’ Plus, you have to buy their currency. In order to get rubles, you have to exchange it for some currency, a euro or dollar, and he's desperate for both. 

“It's a combination of those two things, but ultimately what he's saying to these countries is, ‘Get rid of these sanctions that make it impossible for you to transact in dollars with us,’ because that's what he desperately wants.”

On what Putin would gain from escalating the conflict in Ukraine:

“[Putin] has to get himself into a situation where he thinks he has the upper hand in the war, so he can force Ukraine to accept an agreement where they demilitarize, they turn over Crimea, turnover on Donbas, and other cities on the coast. As well as where they agree to become a neutral country with no military. He needs leverage to do that, and he's not going to be able to establish that leverage doing what he's doing now. He's going to have to escalate, and he's run out of escalation options. 

“At this point, his next escalation options are cyberattacks against the West and some sort of horrific chemical and/or biological attack that he'll try to propose as something that the West did or that Ukraine has done. Something to make people really scared and say, ‘Gosh, we really need to put pressure on Ukraine to accept the deal now. This is getting out of hand.’ That's his mindset. There's the danger.”

On how the U.S. would respond to a Russian cyberattack:

“[If] there's a cyberattack, there has to be a proportionate response. Whatever [Putin] hits, we need to hit back. We have the capability to do that. He should know that already. That should have been made clear. I hope that this administration states what will happen to you if you do these things to us. That should be abundantly clear. 

“As far as chemical and biological, it obviously depends. Those things are difficult to contain. Depending on what it is that they do, these things can easily cross borders and impact NATO troops. Then we're in a whole different world. Let's just hope that doesn't happen, because it creates a lot of uncertainties about what the response would be.” 

On the senator’s views concerning Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson:

“I haven't watched the entirety of [the hearing]. I've watched pieces of it. I can say this, she’s been treated with a lot more respect and dignity than what was given [Justices] Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. [The Democrats] turned those hearings into an absolute circus. 

“No one's out there to try to smear her or defame her. She's being asked tough questions, as she should be. She's a 51-year-old that's going to be on the court for three decades. My kids will be my age by the time that she comes off the court in the future. She's going to have an important, pivotal role to play in the years to come. 

“This is an important position. She should get asked tough questions about her record, about her stance on issues in the light. And it's being done in a very respectful way. You see media people going nuts because she’s being asked a tough question. [The media] think this should be an easy process. These are the same media people that take pride in vetting presidential candidates and asking ridiculous questions of them. But when it comes to a nominee for the Supreme Court on the Left, they really think you shouldn't ask any tough questions of them. 

“Frankly, I'm happy to see that we're back to normal status, in the end, of how these hearings are held. But in the end for me, a decision is going to be based on whether or not she is someone that understands that her job is to interpret the Constitution, not to make public policy, and to interpret it according to its original meaning. I have doubts whether she'll be able to fulfill that requirement in mind.”