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Video: Sen Mark Warner says “we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this”

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Great job by Sen. Mark Warner; very impressed with his work on this!

Below are Vice Chairman Warner’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you Mr. Comey for agreeing to come testify before our Committee as a part of our Russia investigation. 

I realize that while Washington has been focused on this, many Americans ‎tuning in today may not have focused on every twist and turn in the investigation. So I’d like to briefly describe what we already know, and what we are still investigating. To be clear, this investigation is not about re-litigating an election. This is not about who won or who lost. And it is certainly not about Democrats versus Republicans. 

We are here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home. Plain and simple. Not by guns or missiles, but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process – our Presidential election.  Russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids and a broad campaign of disinformation – all ultimately aimed at sowing chaos to undermine public faith in our process, in our leadership and in ourselves.

That is not one senator’s opinion—it is the unanimous determination of the entire U.S. intelligence community.

So we must find-out the full story — what Russia did, and why they were successful.

And more importantly, we must determine the necessary steps we must take to protect our democracy and ensure that they can’t do it again.

Simply put, we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this.

Now, Mr. Comey, let me say at the outset that we haven’t always agreed on every issue – in fact I’ve occasionally questioned actions you’ve taken – but I’ve never had any reason to question your integrity, expertise or intelligence.

You have been a straight shooter with this Committee and have been willing to speak truth to power – even at the risk of your career. Which makes the way in which you were fired by the President utterly shocking.

Recall, we began this entire process with the President and his staff first denying that the Russians were ever involved and then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any Russians. We now know that is just not the truth.

Numerous Trump associates had undisclosed contacts with Russians before and after the election, including the President’s Attorney General, his former National Security Advisor, and his current Senior Advisor, Mr. Kushner.  That doesn’t even count the host of additional campaign associates and advisors who have also been caught up in the web.  

We saw the Trump campaign manager, Mr. Manafort, forced to step down over ties to Russian-backed entities. 

The National Security Advisor, General Flynn, had to resign over his lies about engagements with the Russians. And we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for a Russian dictator while calling for the hacking of his opponent.

That is a lot to investigate. Enough, in fact, that then-Director Comey publicly acknowledged that he was leading an investigation into those links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.  As the Director of the FBI, Mr. Comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation… which might explain why he is appearing before us today as a private citizen.    

What we didn’t know is that at the same time that investigation was proceeding, the President himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or coopt the Director of the FBI.

The testimony that Mr. Comey has submitted for today’s hearing is disturbing. For example, on January 27th, after summoning Director Comey to dinner, the President appears to have threatened Director Comey’s job, while telling him “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”

At a later meeting on February 14, the President asked the Attorney General to leave the Oval Office so that he could privately ask Director Comey to “see [his] way clear to… letting Flynn go.” 

That is a statement Director Comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to General Flynn’s false statements.

Think about it: the President of the United States asking the FBI Director to drop an ongoing investigation. 

And after that, the President then called the FBI Director on two additional occasions – March 30 and April 11 – and asked him to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation.

Director Comey denied each of these improper requests. The loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the Flynn investigation, and the request to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. After his refusals, Director Comey was fired.

The initial explanation for the firing was laughable: the idea that Director Comey was fired for his treatment of Hillary Clinton. Of course, the President himself then made very clear that he was thinking about Russia when he decided to get rid of Director Comey.

Shockingly, reports suggest that President Trump admitted as much in an Oval Office meeting with the Russians the day after Director Comey was fired.

Disparaging our country’s top law enforcement official as a (quote, unquote) “nutjob,” the President allegedly suggested his firing released the great pressure he was feeling about Russia.

This is not happening in isolation. At the same time the President was engaged in these efforts with Director Comey, he was also allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the Russia investigation or intervene with Director Comey.

DNI Coats and NSA Director Admiral Rogers had plenty of opportunities to flatly deny these reports yesterday.

They did not.

That is not how a President of the United States should behave.

Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into those Russia links, Director Comey’s firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of.

I have seen firsthand how seriously every member of this committee is taking this work. I am proud of our committee’s efforts so far. 

Let me be clear: this is not a witch hunt. This is not fake news. It is an effort to protect our country from a new threat that will not go away any time soon.

Mr. Comey, your testimony today will help us move towards that goal.  Thank you for your continued service to this country, and I look forward to hearing from you.

  • Video: Sen. Mark Warner Q&A with James Comey

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS6CXCepTJw

  • True Blue

    Informative and serious hearing today: I was following live coverage and updates by the Telegraph in “James Comey testifies: Former FBI director says he feared Trump would lie about their first meeting.” by Rob Crilly, Washington and Harriet Alexander, New York (still live so I cannot provide link)

  • Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) issued this statement following former FBI Director, James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee:

    “Former FBI Director Comey’s testimony was yet another indication that with every passing day, we see more proof that the President’s reckless choices endanger our democracy. More than ever before, the Administration needs to cooperate fully with all active investigations — including inquiries into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

    “As I have said before, there is clearly smoke. Following Mr. Comey’s testimony, I am more inclined to believe there is fire. I thank Mr. Comey for his testimony, for his many years of service, and for his candor today. His statements reinforce that we remain far from the long-awaited truth.

    “I’m glad that we have a special counsel to continue a fair, thorough, expeditious investigation into any Trump-Russia connections. To complement that effort, we need an independent commission, as well. Americans desire the full and unvarnished truth. I also want to thank my colleague and fellow Virginian, Senator Mark Warner for his strong and steadfast leadership on this issue. I urge my Republican colleagues to set aside politics and join Democrats in pursuing that truth.”

  • VA GOP: Party over patriotism!

    PRESIDENT TRUMP WAS RIGHT. THE MEDIA WERE WRONG.

    President Trump was Right. The Media Were Wrong.
    — Today’s testimony makes it clear POTUS was never under investigation —

    RPV Chairman John Whitbeck issued the following statement:

    “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many leftist narratives blow up at one time. Despite media leaks to the contrary, President Trump was never under investigation. Despite media leaks to the contrary, President Trump’s campaign was never found to be colluding with Russia.”

    “In fact, the only thing that didn’t leak was the one thing that was true: President Trump had been told by James Comey that he wasn’t under investigation. Despite what Tom Perriello, Ralph Northam, Mark Warner, and Tim Kaine want to think, there’s no “there” there. It’s time for this witch hunt to end.”

  • From DPVA:

    Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker issued the following statement following today’s testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee:

    “It is unacceptable that a sitting president would attempt to interfere with the independent investigations carried out by the Department of Justice and its various entities. Today’s testimony from former Director Comey has only added to the mounting evidence against President Trump and his administration. It is disappointing, but not at all surprising, to hear about instances of our president pushing for the FBI to drop the investigation into General Flynn. The Republican Party’s defense of these reprehensible actions proves that they have no interest in seeing truth and justice play out. We need strong and steady leaders on this Committee like Senator Mark Warner to continue to steer these investigations with integrity.”

  • Shouldn’t Mark Warner recuse himself from Russian Internet Hacking Investigations when Senator Mark Warner personally owns $6 million worth of stock in Yandex, a Russian Internet Search Company?

  • True Blue

    Shouldn’t Christopher Wray recuse himself from consideration for new FBI director?

    Christopher Wray’s firm, King & Spalding, currently advises the Trump Organization in their efforts to comply with government ethics guidelines. The firm also consults for Russian state-owned energy giant Rosneft, same group entangled with Carter Page in probable exchange for lifting sanctions. Rosneft and its natural gas cousin, Gazprom, have been hurt the most by Western sanctions on Russia, and therefore have the most to gain by their easing. http://washingtonjournal.com/2017/06/07/trumps-just-hired-lawyer-ties-russia-new-fbi-director/

    This raises serious conflict of interest questions about the potential new FBI director, Christopher Wray.