Marco Rubio is one of two Republican lawmakers facing criticism for tweeting photos of a Saturday video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after being told not to share pictures of the meeting while it was in progress.
Rubio and fellow U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, like all others on the call, were explicitly asked to refrain from posting live photos of the Zoom meeting to protect Zelenskyy’s security. It has been reported that Zelenskyy has survived at least three assassination attempts since last week.
Despite persistent attempts on Zelenskyy’s life since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, both Rubio and Daines disregarded the request. Rubio tweeted a photo of the meeting at 9:45 a.m. Daines followed with his own snapshot eight minutes later.
“On zoom call now with President Zelensky (sic) of #Ukraine,” Rubio wrote.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 5, 2022
Several current and former politicians from both sides of the political aisle were quick to deride Rubio and Daines.
“The Ukrainian Ambassador very intentionally asked each of us on the zoom to NOT share anything on social media during the meeting to protect the security of President Zelenskyy,” U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota wrote on Twitter. “Appalling and reckless ignorance by two U.S. Senators.”
The Ukrainian Ambassador very intentionally asked each of us on the zoom to NOT share anything on social media during the meeting to protect the security of President Zelenskyy. Appalling and reckless ignorance by two US Senators. https://t.co/geolhKxbLp
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) March 5, 2022
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a past chair of the Republican National Committee, shared similarly harsh words.
“Dude, what the hell is wrong with you?” he wrote in a quote tweet of Rubio’s post. “You are the Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. You were specifically asked NOT to share this briefing with Zelensky (sic). Why would you risk his safety for a tweet?”
Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? You are the Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and a Member of the Foreign Relations Committee. You were specifically asked NOT to share this briefing with Zelensky. Why would you risk his safety for a tweet? https://t.co/EpgisRP3au
— Michael Steele (@MichaelSteele) March 5, 2022
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, wrote: “The lack of discipline in Congress is truly astounding. If an embattled wartime leader asks you to keep quiet about a meeting, you better keep quiet about the meeting. I’m not saying a damn thing. Lives are at stake.”
The lack of discipline in Congress is truly astounding.
If an embattled wartime leader asks you to keep quiet about a meeting, you better keep quiet about the meeting.
I’m not saying a damn thing. Lives are at stake.
— Rep. Jason Crow (@RepJasonCrow) March 5, 2022
Representatives from Rubio and Daines’ office released separate statements downplaying the impact.
“There were over 160 members of Congress on a widely reported Zoom call,” a spokesperson for Rubio said. “There was no identifying information of any kind. Anybody pretending this tweet is a security concern is a partisan seeking clicks.”
In a similarly worded statement, Daines’ office contended he shared the photo on Twitter before receiving a request to not post images of the meeting online.
Rubio used the same defense in a subsequent CNN interview.
“Well, first of all, (the Ukrainian ambassador) asked that like 30 minutes into the call, after I had already done it,” he said. “The second is, I think she’s under the impression that no one knew that call was happening. That call had been widely reported. Actually, the specific time had been reported. There were over 300 people on it. All the call details had been emailed.
“So, there was nothing secure about that call. And the picture is just a nondescript picture. It looks just like all the other ones that you’ve seen out there publicly. So, there’s no risk posed. But you’re always going to have a couple people that want their name in an article somewhere and mentioned in the press.”
Sen. @marcorubio (R-FL) asked about tweeting pic of Zelenskyy on Zoom: "First of all, she asked that like 30 minutes into the call after I had already done it."
Also: "There was no risk posed, but you're always gonna have a couple people who want their name in an article…" pic.twitter.com/8qveYOyV22
— The Recount (@therecount) March 6, 2022