Marco Rubio Slams 'Weirdo' Salt Bae for Feeding 'Overweight Dictator' Maduro Who 'Is Not the President of Venezuela'

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has joined the many social media users criticizing Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro for feasting at internet star butcher Salt Bae's Istanbul restaurant while millions of Venezuelans suffer from malnutrition and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

"I don't know who this weirdo #Saltbae is, but the guy he is so proud to host is not the President of #Venezuela," Rubio tweeted Monday night. "He is actually the overweight dictator of a nation where 30% of the people eat only once a day & infants are suffering from malnutrition."

I don’t know who this weirdo #Saltbae is, but the guy he is so proud to host is not the President of #Venezuela. He is actually the overweight dictator of a nation where 30% of the people eat only once a day & infants are suffering from malnutrition.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 18, 2018

Earlier that day, Salt Bae, whose real name is Nusret Gökçe and became famous for the way he sprinkles salt on his meat, shared a video on his Instagram feed of Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores eating pieces of meat he sliced at his restaurant Nusr-Et. Another clip showed Maduro smoking a cigar and making the Turkish butcher's signature salt sprinkling gesture. Yet another video showed Maduro hugging Salt Bae and saying, "I'll see you in Caracas soon, thank you." Salt Bae also shared photos with Maduro together with the caption, "I love Venezuela."

Outrage from social media users led Salt Bae to block the comments section, and eventually delete the post.

Maduro, whom Rubio called "overweight," has been widely criticized for his leadership of the country where at least 1.3 million people have fled suffering from malnourishment, based on United Nations figures. Venezuela has seen the biggest exodus ever in the Western Hemisphere, with close to 2.3 million nationals departing in recent years, according to the U.N. The country also faces food and medicine shortages amid an economic crisis and skyrocketing inflation.

Rubio, who has been a vocal critic of Maduro, also tweeted late Monday that Salt Bae "who admires dictator" Maduro has a steakhouse in his hometown of Miami and provided the phone number "in case anyone wanted to call."

This guy @nusr_ett who admires dictator @NicolasMaduro so much actually owns a steakhouse in, of all places, #Miami. It’s called NUSR-ET STEAKHOUSE MIAMI located at 999 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL 33131
The phone number is 1 305 415 9990 in case anyone wanted to call.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 18, 2018

Richard Painter, a chief ethics lawyer under former president George W. Bush, said that executive branch ethics rules against endorsement or disparagement of businesses in an official capacity do not apply to members of Congress, but that Rubio tweeting the phone number was "extremely bad taste."

"Political leaders should not be using their official positions to encourage boycotts or harassment of private businesses simply because of the political, religious or ethnic affiliation of the business owner," Painter said in an email to Newsweek Tuesday afternoon.

Rubio also tweeted, "While some like @nusr_ett feed dictators like Nicolas Maduro, others are helping to feed innocent children being starved by the Maduro regime in #Venezuela," and quoted a post from a Twitter user who provided food to Venezuelan children.

Early Tuesday, Rubio noted that Salt Bae had deleted the video of him "lavishing dictator Maduro with a steak dinner," but that the Miami Herald had downloaded it beforehand.

Salt Bae has 15.7 million Instagram followers and has uploaded posts of himself hanging out with celebrities including Drake and Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Marco Rubio, Nicolas Maduro, Salt Bae
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during the Sunshine Summit conference being held at the Rosen Shingle Creek on November 13, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Rubio criticized Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro for feasting at star butcher Salt Bae's restaurant in Istanbul. Joe Raedle/Getty Images