Transcript: Sen. Mark Warner on "Face the Nation," September 9, 2018

The following is a transcript of the interview with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, that aired Sunday, September 9, 2018, on "Face the Nation." 


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner who joins us today from one of my favorite cities Charlottesville Virginia. Senator thank you for coming on Face the Nation. We spoke with Vice President Mike Pence --

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Thank you Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- who said that he has not been asked by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for an interview but that he would be willing to sit for one and help with that investigation. What do you make of that.

SEN. WARNER: Well it seems to me that Mr. Pence is doing the appropriate activity. There is an ongoing investigation that's had now I believe six guilty pleas over 30 indictments. Guilty pleas have included the president's campaign manager the president's lawyer. The president's CFO has at least got immunity and Mr. Papadopoulos one of the president's foreign policy aides during the campaign clearly indicated that he had been offered dirt on Hillary Clinton and Clinton email. So there was outreach from from the Trump- from the Russians to the Trump operation. So the fact that Vice President Pence is cooperating is great. I wish his boss Mr. Trump would have the same level of cooperation. Donald Trump continues to say he's done nothing wrong then he should sit down and talk to the Mueller investigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have any questions for the vice president about what he may have known about what happened in 2016?

SEN. WARNER: I'm not going to go through where we are at this point in our intelligence committee investigation. We've had interviewed over 100 folks we've still got folks like Mr. Papadopoulos and we'd love to get back Mr. Cohen that we want to pursue. But I do think the main activity and clearly Mr. Mueller has a lot more tools in his tool chest than we have at the Senate Intelligence Committee.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So still no date in terms of when you might get George Papadopoulos a former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign to sit and answer questions with you and do you intend to go back to the attorney general to ask why he gave very different testimony than George Papadopoulos has about conversations regarding setting up a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

SEN. WARNER: I think that's something that I would imagine the Mueller investigation is looking into. We do want to see Papadopoulos. We also want to see Michael Cohen who has indicated that he would come back without any immunity and testify before our committee and our committee is the last bipartisan effort that's trying to pursue these facts. And if you- but if you step back from it and you look at all of the guilty pleas that Mueller has received and the total number of indictments the fact that this president still undermines the Mueller investigation. This president who this week is out you know basically calling into question somebody who wrote a memo about the activities -- or an op-ed -- the activities inside the White House a president who is basically asking the Justice Department to back off on criminal indictments of Republican members. This is not a president who understands how our system of laws and rule of law works. And that really bothers me and one of the reasons why I again I hope Mueller gets to the bottom of this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It doesn't sound like you're going to issue the Senate report before the November midterm races.

SEN. WARNER: I think we'll be hard pressed. What we have- we had four pieces of our investigation before we got to collusion. The first which was reconfirming the intelligence community assessment that the Russians intervened to help Trump hurt Clinton. Second election security. And we've got bipartisan election security legislation that I wish the Senate would take up and pass. Unfortunately Majority Leader McConnell has held off on allowing us to vote on that. The third is and we will be fairly harsh on some of the activities from the Obama administration and the FBI. And then we've also- and just this past week we had another hearing on social media where again we're trying to look not only at what happened in 2016 but on a going forward basis and we made a lot of progress with at least Facebook and Twitter in terms of policy issues we can pursue. Then we've got this final issue obviously of collusion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you see any national security concerns that would justify the president's call for the attorney general to look into who authored this anonymous op-ed by someone claiming to work within the administration? 

SEN. WARNER: I wish that whoever had written the op-ed would have revealed their identity, but I see absolutely no national security issues. I wonder when the Woodward- Woodward book comes out, and my understanding he has- he has documented interviews with over 100 folks in the White House, where this President is going to try to sic the Justice Department on all the folks who talked- talked to Bob Woodward. This is clearly a president that is, a White House that's in chaos, and a president that becoming more and more untethered. And if you just step back for a moment and look at the last three months. We've had a president who had this disastrous policy with separating kids and families at the border. We had the president who had a- a frankly, I think, unpresidential appearance with Vladimir Putin. A president who zigged and zagged on tariffs. These efforts around his senior officials who pled guilty. His, you know, frankly unseemly behavior toward John McCain. And now, this reactions to be both the book and the op-ed, it appears that the walls are closing in on this president and he's lashing out at--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Well, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly have put on the record denials of some of the reporting from Bob Woodward out there. Do you take them at their word?

SEN. WARNER: Well I know that Bob Woodward has done this a number of times to presidents of both parties. And usually he's been a pretty good journalist, but I'll let Mr. Woodward, and I have a great, great deal of respect for Secretary Mattis, let them litigate that out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Vice President Pence in our interview also said that the President was just speaking his mind and being candid, it was candor this week when he said that- that two Republican congressmen who have been indicted shouldn't have been, essentially, ahead of the midterm races. Does that trouble you those kind of statements or do you just brush this off as more, as the Vice President characterized, candor? 

SEN. WARNER: Well I think this is why this is a White House in chaos, because most responsible people in the White House realize the President of the United States can't make these comments without consequences. And this President is so irresponsible and I don't think we can continue to excuse his behavior as anything resembling normalcy. So, it'll be interesting to see whether my colleagues are willing to stand up and call out these activities. I think very shortly, as the Mueller probe continues, we're all going to be at that moment where history will judge us. And I think this president will be judged as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Warner, thank you for joining us on "Face the Nation."

SEN. WARNER: Thank you, Margaret.