Senator Rubio chosen as acting Intelligence Committee chairman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio will serve as acting chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday, after Senator Richard Burr announced he would step aside from the position during a federal investigation of his stock trades.

Rubio, 48, has been an active Republican voice on national security and foreign policy matters throughout the nine years he has been in the Senate.

He is known as a hawk on dealings with China, Russia and Cuba, the country from which his parents came to Florida as immigrants.

The appointment makes Rubio part of the so-called Gang of Eight, the leaders of Congress and the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees who receive the most sensitive classified briefings.

Rubio sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, eventually losing the primary race to real estate developer Donald Trump, who defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in that November’s general election.

Rubio is also chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, which has played an important role in efforts to help the U.S. economy recover from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

McConnell did not say whether Rubio would step aside as leader of that panel. Aides to Rubio did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Burr told McConnell on May 14 that he would temporarily leave his position as chairman of the powerful intelligence committee. U.S. officials said then that the FBI had seized his mobile telephone in major escalation of a probe of his stock trades before the market downtown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Burr has denied wrongdoing and said he relied solely on news reports to guide decisions on stock sales, amid reports he and other senators sold shares after private briefings on the risks of the coronavirus crisis.

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