Transcript: Senator Mark Warner on "Face the Nation," June 21, 2020

Warner calls firing of Manhattan U.S. attorney "totally inappropriate"
Warner calls firing of Manhattan U.S. attorne... 06:16

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Mark Warner that aired Sunday, June 21 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner. Good morning to you. 

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Good morning, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know why U.S. Attorney Berman was fired?

WARNER: I have absolutely no idea. Although we do see this pattern where the administration uses Friday night to announce bad news. But this is one more example of why I think Bill Barr has repeatedly demonstrated that he's more interested in being Donald Trump's personal lawyer than he is in being the attorney for the United States of America.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there were a number of investigations that the Southern District was- was, and I suppose are- are still pursuing. And in his statements, Berman referred to the importance of continuing some of those investigations. Do you have any sense what he was referring to?

WARNER: No, it has been speculated that the U.S. Attorney Mr. Berman was investigating Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani. I think a number of us have been worried that Mr. Giuliani may have been knowingly or unknowingly manipulated by individuals coming out of Ukraine that may be manipulated by Russia. So, there seems to be a pattern from this administration that the President and his henchman, Mr. Barr, are willing to get rid of anyone that's investigating people that get close to Donald Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, CBS has reported that Rudy Giuliani is under investigation. But do you have any reason to believe that the deputy in the Southern District office, her name is Audrey Strauss, is not capable or wouldn't pursue those investigations?

WARNER: No, it- it appears that she's a career professional, and I think it was appropriate for Mr. Berman to push back against what I think was totally inappropriate firing by first Barr and then it appeared Donald Trump himself. But we've seen this pattern. I've seen it in the intelligence community where literally six Trump-appointed intelligence officials have either been pushed out or fired because they tried to do their job of speaking truth to power. It appears again that Mr. Berman, who was a Trump appointee, was trying to do his job, follow the law, and that cost him his job. I- I do believe his- his deputy, Ms. Strauss, though, should be able to do the job professionally and appropriately.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. You've been raising concerns about politicized intelligence. And I want to ask you what justification that Department of Justice has given you as to why the investigation your committee conducted into Russian election meddling in 2016 has not been released publicly, given that we are five months out from the election and this is one of the most key portions of your investigation.

WARNER: Well, our last volume, Volume V, close to a thousand pages, and I would point out again, we're the only bipartisan investigation that has been looking into this subject. We've been virtually unanimous in all our first four reports. Our Volume V, a thousand pages, has been submitted to the director of national intelligence for final clearance review.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the director of national intelligence had publicly said he would look into having this released. But you believe John Ratcliffe, the director, is the one holding it up now?

SEN. WARNER: Listen, I think it is an appropriate review process. We simply submitted it literally within the last 30 days. So I'll give the ODNI a little more time. But my hope and expectation is that this volume will be released so that Americans can make their judgment. And I want it released before the August recess.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about John Bolton, the former national security adviser to President Trump. We did see a federal judge rule that his book can be sold. But the judge also said he gambled with the national security of the United States by publishing information before the classification review had been completed. So that- that's going to potentially give him some legal challenges. But from what you hear from the intel community, from the CIA director, is there a lot of concern about what Bolton disclosed?

SEN. WARNER: Listen, I think John Bolton, if he wanted to tell his story and he has such damning accusations against Donald Trump, not only vis-à-vis Ukraine, but in terms of the President's activities with Erdogan, the Turkish leader, with the President's activities and allegations about his conversations with President Xi of China. If John Bolton had really wanted to get this information out for reasons other than his own personal profit, he should have come and testified before the House or the Senate--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to ask him to testify now--

SEN. WARNER: --much earlier in the year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --with your Republican colleagues?

SEN. WARNER: Listen, I'm not sure that his credibility at this moment is all that high. But I think the bigger argument here, if these allegations and accusations, which are extraordinarily damning, are true, I would think my Republican colleagues would want to have that- get him on, get him under oath as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that maybe it sounds like. On the intell-

SEN. WARNER: That's a maybe at this point. But again, I don't think- I think John Bolton managed to not only- he managed to unite all of Washington.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. 

SEN. WARNER: The Democrats were frustrated. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you--

SEN. WARNER: He was not willing to testify. The Republicans are obviously concerned about the book. But at the end of the day--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you didn't- you didn't answer the first question, though.

SEN. WARNER: --we need to figure out whether these allegations are true or not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You- you just didn't- just button up, you didn't answer the question of how concerned the intelligence community truly is about what was revealed.

SEN. WARNER: Again, I'm not going to speak to what- I think the intelligence community is- is always concerned about leaking of classified information. I think there is a legitimate question here whether what Bolton is laying out, though, is this classified because of Donald Trump is afraid of the substance or because of legitimate intelligence reasons.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Senator, thank you for your time. 

SEN. WARNER: Thank you, MARGARET. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.