GOP Senators Marco Rubio, Steve Daines Only Ones Brave Enough To Tweet Photos From Meeting With Zelenskyy
Members of Congress had a Zoom meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Saturday, during which GOP Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Steve Daines of Montana posted photos of Zelenskyy to their Twitter accounts. Some online conspiracy theorists suggested this proves Rubio and Daines are somehow Russian assets. I think this overlooks the simpler explanation that they are both idiots.
Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota called out the senators’ sloppiness:
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://twitter.com/therecount/status/1500125132689399814\u00a0\u2026— Rep. Dean Phillips \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Rep. Dean Phillips \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1646494114
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.
Unfortunately, Phillips responded to a post from The Recount that included the original tweets from Rubio and Daines, which just compounded the error. Let’s hope Zelenskyy at least gets some fighter jets out of this.
Democratic Rep. Jason Crow remarked on Twitter, "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.”
It’s probably OK to say something about the call. GOP Senator Mitt Romney succinctly summed up the meeting and provided action items: Send “desperately needed military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine now” and don’t wait around for the congressional calendar. Got it.
Rubio might want us to think he's a foreign policy expert or at least someone who regularly shows up for committee meetings. His inability to follow the Zoom call's review embargo looks bad, and his office tried to clean up his mess.
"There were over 160 members of Congress on a widely reported Zoom call. There was no identifying information of any kind. Anybody pretending this tweet is a security concern is a partisan seeking clicks," said a spokesperson for Rubio.
Rubio is the partisan seeking clicks, though. Zelenskyy reportedly addressed more than 280 senators, House members and staff, most of whom didn’t live-tweet photos like they were fans meeting a movie star.
"That call had been widely reported \u2026 there were over 300 people on it."\n\nSen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) explains why he tweeted a photo of a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. #CNNSOTUpic.twitter.com/prEQDAL0lQ— State of the Union (@State of the Union) 1646578795
During a Sunday appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union," Rubio stood by his decision. When Jake Tapper asked him if it was a mistake to tweet the photo, Rubio courageously shifted the blame to Ukrainian ambassador Oksana Markarova. His “defense” was that Markarova hadn’t told him soon enough not to share sensitive details of the meeting online.
RUBIO: She asked [not to tweet pictures] like 30 minutes into the call after I’d already done it. I think she’s under the impression that no one knew that call was happening. That call had been widely reported. The specific time was reported. There were over 300 people on it. All the call details had been emailed. There was nothing secure about that call. And the picture’s just a nondescript picture. It looks just like the other ones that you’ve seen out there publicly. There’s no risk posed.
This genius doesn’t grasp the difference between a call with 300 or so members of Congress and their staff, versus tweeting photos to his 4.2 million followers. Rubio is not a former CIA operative, so he can’t claim with any authority that the photo he shared was “nondescript” and posed no risk. Rubio’s not the one hiding from Russian assassins who tried to hit Zelenskyy three times in the past week. The biggest personal risk to Rubio is the dreaded Twitter ratio. He can get bent and do whatever Ambassador Oksana Markarova asks without complaint.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."