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Sen. Marco Rubio tapped to head intel committee amid FBI investigation of former chair

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) stepped down from the role last week

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)/(Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been named Acting Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after former head Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) stepped aside pending an FBI investigation into questionable stock trades he made ahead of the coronavirus market plunge.

What are the details?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Monday that Rubio had accepted the appointment as intel chairman on an interim basis, saying the senior senator from Florida "was the natural choice for this temporary assignment on the basis of accumulated committee service."

Rubio responded with a brief statement of his own, saying, "I am grateful to Leader McConnell for his confidence in me to lead the Senate Intelligence Committee during Senator Burr's absence from the Chairmanship."

Burr remains a senator, but surrendered his chairmanship of the intel committee last week after the FBI served him a warrant amid an ongoing insider trading investigation regarding his actions following briefings on COVID-19 and ahead of a significant hit to the stock market in the early days of the outbreak.

Burr denies any wrongdoing and plans to return as chairman once the investigation is concluded despite calls for his resignation from both sides of the political aisle. Prior to the investigation, he had already announced he would not seek re-election.

The Washington Post noted that Rubio had already been expected to head the committee upon Burr's retirement, but his earlier-than-expected appointment presents a unique situation during the coronavirus crisis.

The paper reported:

Under normal circumstances, Rubio would have to give up his gavel at the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, usually a sleepy panel with little profile that has been transformed into the leading overseer of the $650 billion Paycheck Protection Program created in the wake of the pandemic.

Because of his appointment to run the Intelligence Committee is technically only temporary, Rubio may seek a waiver from GOP rules and ask to retain his chairmanship of the Small Business Committee. Normally, the odds of such a waiver would be very slim, but the seniority ladder would put Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a libertarian, in line to replace Rubio at a critical point in the committee's history. Some Republicans may be reluctant to put Paul in that position.
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