Local Commentary

Editorial: Sen. Mark Warner’s Crucial Role

U.S. presidential press secretary Sean Spicer unloaded an insulting, condescending retort to veteran journalist April Ryan this week, insisting that she is “going to have to take ‘no’ for an answer” to the question of connections between the White House and Russia. He would have us believe the whole matter is nothing more than the invention of the media. But, obviously, that’s countered by the fact that no less than FBI director James Comey told a House Intelligence Committee hearing last week that there is an active, ongoing FBI investigation of just that.

With the House Intelligence Committee now tied up in knots by its pro-Trump chairman Devin Nunes, the ball is in the court of its U.S. Senate counterpart starting today, where our own Virginia U.S. Senator Mark Warner is the vice chair. In all his media interviews on the matter, Sen. Warner has underscored with great gravitas the extremely important nature of the subject of the committee’s inquiry, which will be going not only to numerous U.S. intelligence agencies’ confirmed efforts by the Russians to interfere in the U.S. elections last fall, and to interfere on behalf of their preferred candidate Trump, but also to the most critical matter, the potential collusion by members of the Trump team with the Russians in that effort.

Senator Warner has been quoted repeatedly saying, “This is the most important thing I’ve ever done in my public life,” adding, “As I get more and more into this, I will double down on that statement because it is extraordinary.” He said this on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday. But generally overlooked is the context in which he said this, most importantly, in which he repeated this a second time.

That came when interviewer Chuck Todd asked Warner to comment on the remark by the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat Adam Schiff who said “there is more than just circumstantial evidence and that there is some evidence of collusion that’s going to come out.”

Warner replied, “Weeks ago when I was first getting started with this I said this is the most important thing I’ve ever worked on. With what I know now, I doubly believe that. This is a serious effort and it has to be done bipartisan. We have to get the facts out to the American people.”

He added, “We do know the Russians massively intervened and they’re doing the same thing right now in France and Germany.”

“More than circumstantial evidence and evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian interference effort?” That was the question. Warner’s doubled-down answer can only be read in so many words as a resounding “yes.”

He said he speaks with FBI director Comey on a regular basis and that he’s confident his committee will move ahead with bipartisan support. There are “serious Republicans…all saying we’ll go where the intel leads,” he said.

We say, “Go Mark!”