Fox News falsely reported that Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) engaged in misconduct by texting with a lobbyist associated with a Russian billionaire last year.
Florida Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio unexpectedly came to his defense:
In typical Trump fashion, the President latched onto the Fox News report as leverage against the Russia investigation:
Wow! -Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. Warner did not want a “paper trail” on a “private” meeting (in London) he requested with Steele of fraudulent Dossier fame. All tied into Crooked Hillary.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2018
Trump conveniently forgets to note that Warner had disclosed the information to the Senate in committee back in October.
Warner and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the intelligence committee, told press that they are continuing to work together in investigating the Russia collusion “in a bipartisan way” and slammed the release of “incomplete information” as unacceptable, and an attempted diversion.
Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis laid out why Warner was in touch with lobbyist Steele:
It is not news that Mark Warner personally tried to contact Steele to interview him. Burr said at October press conference he and Warner had *each* personally sought to contact Steele for interviews without success, and hoped he would reconsider.— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) February 9, 2018
It's also not surprising Warner would want to do so quietly. Nearly everything Senate Intel does is behind closed doors. They don't announce who they are talking to or when. No transcripts. Few public hearings. Etc. Intel considers secrecy in investigation a feature, not a bug.— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) February 9, 2018
Why did they want to talk to Steele? Burr laid out why in October: to try and assess his sources and methods to determine credibility of dossier claims.— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) February 9, 2018
And the public responded by drawing attention to stories they thought were actually newsworthy:
What is HUGE news is that a week ago a woman posing as Hannity received messages from Assange saying he has damaging info on Mark Warner. A week later this. So, clear confirmation that Hannity/Fox are working directly with Assange, a cut out for Russian Intelligence.— DumpTrump17 (@DumpTrump79) February 9, 2018
A Republican Congressman went to visit Assange ...— Morgan M. Hurley (@morganOPINES) February 9, 2018
Folks are shrugging of Donnie's tweets quicker and quicker now. In the past, Donnie could control 2 or 3 news cycles with single tweet. Now, bupkis.— Tony Renner (@TonyRenner) February 9, 2018
And Senator Angus King (I-ME) also came to the defense of both of his colleagues.
.@marcorubio has it right. The Senate Intel Committee, under the leadership of @SenatorBurr and @MarkWarner, is conducting a thorough, bipartisan investigation, which includes talking to as many witnesses and sources as possible. https://t.co/BA38bF1oo6— Senator Angus King (@SenAngusKing) February 9, 2018
Again, this seems like it's not really news. We're left to wonder if the true collusion is between Fox News and the President, attempting to distract from the investigation.