Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledged on Tuesday through a spokesperson that he met with indicted ex-Rep. David Rivera to discuss a potential deal to normalize relations between the United States and Venezuela — but didn’t know that his one-time friend and long-time political ally was working on behalf of strongman Nicolás Maduro.
Rubio’s dealings with Rivera emerged Monday night after federal authorities arrested and charged the former Miami lawmaker with eight criminal counts, including money laundering, conspiracy and failing to register as a foreign agent for work allegedly connected to the Maduro regime.
The statement from Rubio’s office stands in contrast to the remarks he made during an interview with a Miami television station back in August. When asked by CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede about Rivera, Rubio criticized media outlets who were mentioning him in coverage of Rivera’s dealings with the Venezuelan government.
CBS News reports:
The charges against Rivera include conspiracy to commit money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent, and conspiracy to commit offense against the United States.
Rivera and his co-defendant, Esther Nuhfer, who used to work for Rubio, are accused of using their access to the Florida Senator and other elected officials to improve Venezuela’s standing with the United States, which had imposed stringent sanctions against the Socialist regime.
Rivera had signed a secret consulting contract with the Venezuelan state-owned oil company. The contract was worth $50 million. The federal indictment maintains Rivera received more than $23 million.
The Associated Press reports:
Around the time Rivera was hired, Maduro’s government was seeking to court the Trump’s administration, donating $500,000 to his inaugural committee through Citgo and initially avoiding outright criticism of the new U.S. president, who had a penchant for praising strongmen.
Before being elected to Congress, Rivera was a high-ranking Florida legislator, serving from 2003 to 2010 in the House. During that time he shared a Tallahassee home with Rubio, who eventually became Florida House speaker.
Rivera has been embroiled in several election-related controversies, including orchestrating the stealth funding of an unknown Democratic candidate to take on his main rival in a South Florida congressional race.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) December 7, 2022
If you simply changed “Marco Rubio” to “Hunter Biden” here, the Rivera indictment would be leading every hour of Fox News https://t.co/GCPJa8q7A7
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) December 7, 2022
The indictment reveals text messages between Rivera and Nuhfer that show how they used their ties to Rubio to personally profit.
After one meeting with Rubio, Nuhfer texted Rivera: “No more mtgs until we get a slice.”
— Jim DeFede (@DeFede) December 6, 2022
There must be an investigation into @marcorubio dealings with indicted Miami Republican David Rivera. We are now learning Rubio lied, he met with Rivera to help cut a deal w/Maduro. While we passed TPS & humanitarian assistance, he was betraying Venezuelas.https://t.co/mOHTnKGIJJ
— Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (@DebbieforFL) December 7, 2022
So Former Fla politician David Rivera, arrested today!! FYI. Before being elected to Congress, Rivera was a high-ranking Florida legislator, 2003 to 2010 in the House. During that time he shared a Tallahassee home with current U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Btw home was foreclosed on.
— William Sanchez (@sanchezforsen) December 6, 2022