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Video: Sen. Mark Warner Rips “Incompetence,” “Irresponsibility” of GOP House Leadership for Not Passing Ukraine Aid, FISA; “This week will rank in my top three of weeks of frustration”

"I think we're in very dangerous territory"

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See below for video of Sen. Mark Warner’s press availability earlier today. Here are a few highlights from a week that Sen. Warner said “rank[s] in my top three of weeks of frustration” in his entire career in the US Senate.

  • If this feels a little bit like Groundhog Day in terms of dysfunction in the House of Representatives, you have a right to feel that way. I feel it to an extra degree. As opposed to taking this week after recess, where the Speaker had promised he would bring a bill forward to support our allies in Ukraine, one more week has gone by without that legislation getting to the floor of the House. In the meantime, Vladimir Putin is gleeful that America is walking away at this point from its obligation to help defend Ukraine. And as I’ve pointed out before, remember, I sometimes think this doesn’t get enough attention in the press, the Ukrainians in two years have, with support from America but at a support level that is amounts to less than 3% of our annual defense budget, the brave Ukrainian forces have been able to eliminate 87% of Russia’s pre-existing ground forces, taken off the combat board, killed wounded or no longer able to perform. Ukrainians have eliminated 63% of Russia’s prior tank capacity. They’ve eliminated 32% of Russia’s armored personal carriers. They’ve done that without the loss of a single American aoldier or NATO solder’s life. And the idea that the House leadership keeps frittering away this time promising they’re going to bring a bill is the epitome of irresponsibility. If we look back and we don’t act and we look back two years from now, where no country around the world trusts us or where Russian troops are poised on the border of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland – NATO Article Five countries that we would have to defend – we know where the responsibility would lie. And it is stunning to me that we have now gone months on end. And this is not a partisan issue; this legislation with Ukraine aid passed with 70 votes, the leading voice in many ways in the Senate is Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Let the House vote on this issue.”
  • “So what did the House do this week? Well, it spent a lot of time deciding and undeciding when to send over their phony impeachment proceedings against Secretary Mayorkas. Again, let’s remember who Secretary Mayorkas. He’s the son of Cuban refugees, he’s an immigrant himself, he spent decades as a law enforcement officer. And even my Republican Senate colleagues have said they see no evidence that Mayorkas somehow did high crimes and misdemeanors that would warant an impeachment. I think this whole charade is an effort to take attention away from the fact that the House, led by former President Donald Trump, refused to take up the strong border security bill that was crafted in the United States Senate. You know, the border’s a mess. But rather than talking about it or rather than putting on political show trials, what the  House should do and the Senate should do is take up the strong border security bill that Senator Lankford brought forward along with Senator Murphy and Senator Sinema, A huge, again, waste of time.”
  • And instead, what the House did, and again we’ve seen incompetence hit new levels in the House, where for the third or fourth or fifth time the House leadership failed to have its own Republican members act in any kind of concert, putting in jeopardy the nation’s leading national security legislation, the FISA legislation, so-called section 702, which allows us in this country to spy on foreigners who are abroad. With the situation in Ukraine, with the situation in Gaza, with even terrorist acts taking place in Russia, the idea that the United States would step back from having this tool that  expires next Friday is the height of irresponsibility. And again, it appears to be in terms of kowtowing to the former president. We have a very strong, in the Senate, bipartisan reform bill on FISA and Section 702. We’ve already seen the number of inappropriate queries that the FBI used dropped from 30% to under 2%. I know we in the we in the Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike, are not going to allow this critical tool – and again, the information that goes into the president’s intelligence daily briefing, about 65% of that material comes from 702 collections – the idea that we would let that expire would be the height of national security irresponsibility. And we are potentially facing that, because the House begged to go first, and they can’t even get the process in place to have the bill debated on the floor. I spend a lot of times  pretty frustrated in this body, but this week will rank in my top three of weeks of frustration; I’m saying that as somebody who’s gone through government shutdowns and failures of legislative actions in the past, but this one really took the cake… boy oh boy, have we wasted a lot of time with the incompetence of the House continuing to promise they’re going to get it done and failing time after time after time.”
  • “We’re in an election year, and one of the things that our my intelligence committee is going to have an open hearing on next week is the threat of foreign interference in our elections. We have a whole lot of Americans who already, unfortunately, don’t trust any of our institutions. We have nation states like China and Russia that realize because of our open society it’s easy to try to interfere in our elections as Russia did in 2016.  We’ve got artificial intelligence tools that allow this interference to take place at a speed and scale exponentially faster. If we don’t put some protections in place – and part of that would be taking the ultimate propaganda machine, TikTok, 170 million Americans, 90 minutes a day on that platform – and say it ought to be at the end of the day under American or Canadian or Brazilian, anyone other than a nation state that is shown with its authoritarian tendencies that it will do anything to change its stories to meet the CCP’s propaganda goals, then we would be foolish. We’ve got to get it done.”
  • “This is the way in a technology-connected world that adversaries will use to interfere. Let me give you an example. I saw a Slovakian democracy advocate the other day… when Putin invaded Ukraine, 500,000 Ukrainians left the country into Slovakia. Slovakia embraced them, helped take care. At that moment in time two years ago, polls indicated that 75% to 80% of Slovakians supported Ukraine against Putin. Two years later, after massive amounts of Russian interference, Slovakia has elected a pro-Putin government. And this young man said 55% of Slovaks now believe that America started the war in Ukraine and Russia. Now, that’s wacky, but that is an  indication of the kind of social influence and technology use and false flag operation that Russia’s been an expert at. This goes back to the time of the tsars; Russia has been better at propaganda and misinformation and disinformation than anyone…when you hear this kind of babble coming out of folks that saying Vladimir Putin winning in Ukraine wouldn’t be a national security threat and why should we be concerned, it’s extraordinarily scary. And I point out the $60 billion, $47 billion of which the president has asked for…that goes for defense assistance to Ukraine, about 90 cents on every one of those defense dollars is spent in America, because it is refurbishing our defense industrial base, so we can send the bullets and shells and other tools the Ukrainians need. So it is enormous concern to me.”
  • “And I worry now eight years after Russia first interfered in our elections in 2016 in a massive way, I worry as we’re now seven or eight months out from presidential elections right now, that Russia’s propaganda campaign has got people mimicking their party line in the House of Representatives. I hear some of these far-right extremists who say they’ll bring down the Speaker if he were ever to have the audacity to say that America ought to stand by its commitments and support Ukraine. I think we’re in very dangerous territory…I do think we have strengthened our cyber protections – doesn’t mean the bad guys won’t try to interfere, but in terms of the security of our voting systems we have improved – but we have to be on guard on both the misinformation/disinformation and again around the security aspects of of our electoral system. On that issue, I feel more confident. On the concerns about misinformation/ disinformation, I am more concerned than ever.”

 

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