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Rubio won’t dismiss notion that Trump may have obstructed justice

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) refused to join his Republican colleagues in dismissing the notion that there was anything in James B. Comey’s public testimony before the Intelligence Committee this morning suggesting President Trump tried to obstruct justice.

“I’m not prepared to reach a conclusion on that, because we’re not done with all the other pieces that are missing,” Rubio told reporters after the Comey hearing.

He noted that the committee still had to hear from Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers about whether the president tried to influence them to get Comey to drop the FBI’s probe as well.

“I don’t think anybody would leave this hearing and say to you that what the president said in the Oval Office on the 14th of February was appropriate,” Rubio said.

But he would not opine on “whether it rises to criminality,” though he noted others have “significant doubts” about that.

Rubio repeatedly wondered aloud why no one in the White House “advised the president about what’s appropriate and what isn’t when you’re interacting with the FBI.”

“I’m not saying he would have listened to it,” Rubio added.

But the Florida Republican, who often clashed with Trump when both were seeking the GOP presidential nod, said it was important to understand what Trump’s advisers were and were not doing. He said it has to be understood whether people are dealing with “a concerned, orchestrated effort to impede justice, or is this an unconventional non-politician who, because he has not worked in government before, either doesn’t understand or, quite frankly, is not interested in convention?”

Rubio had dinner with Trump on Wednesday night. He was asked whether the president brought up the investigation or tried to ask him about his role investigating allegations about the Trump administration as a member of the Intelligence Committee.

“No,” Rubio said. “And if he would have, we would have gotten up and walked out.”

James Comey testimony: Updates and reaction

Former FBI director James B. Comey is set to testify today in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.; a closed hearing is to start at 1 p.m.

Comey’s testimony was previewed on Wednesday in written remarks in which he describes President Trump’s demand of loyalty and the investigations.