Washington – Senator Marco Rubio, chairman of the United States Senate Intelligence Commission, warned that foreign agents are trying to spread conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and interfere in this year’s presidential election.
One possibility is that these actors promote the hypothesis that a vaccine against the virus, when available, is more harmful than beneficial, Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“I think that in the COVID-19 crisis, attempts have been made to promote falsehoods that are aggravating friction among society,” said the senator.
Four years after Russian efforts to sow divisions in American society, Rubio warned: “I am not sure that today we are less vulnerable than before.”
As head of the intelligence commission, Rubio has gained prominence again s ince the 2016 political turmoil, when he lost the Republican primaries to Donald Trump and decided to run for reelection, despite having said he would retire. He was elected to head the commission last week, when Republican Senator Richard Burr had to temporarily step down from office due to an investigation into his stock trading.
Rubio now has two crucial roles: in the intelligence commission and in the small business commission, which is trying to help in the recovery of the economy.
Both roles have given the senator a platform for his populist economic vision, particularly his denunciations of China, which are currently entrenched positions in the Republican militancy and encourage discontent among those who feel displaced by globalization.
“I think there will be a broader conversation,” said Rubio, about supply chains and American manufacturing, “which will be part of the post-pandemic economy in the 21st century.”
As head of the intelligence commission, Rubio is aware of classified information, but notes that he cannot speak about specific cases because “obviously part of those efforts continues.”
However, he claims that the Russian efforts so far “have exceeded even Putin’s best expectations.” By causing political polarization and spreading conspiracy theories, Russia and other foreign actors are “lighting a match.” It also points to China’s efforts to cover up its own role in the crisis.
“The goal is for us to be so divided and fighting each other that we become dysfunctional, unable to respond to a threat,” he said.