Sen. Mark Warner: I don't think the president understands that words matter

Sen. Warner on bomb probe, election security

Last Updated Oct 26, 2018 9:07 AM EDT

President Trump doesn't understand that words matter, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner said on "CBS This Morning" Friday, after multiple suspicious packages were sent to prominent Democrats this week

Mr. Trump blamed the media for much of the state of today's divisive rhetoric, even after one of the packages addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan was sent to CNN in New York. "A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!" the president tweeted Thursday morning. 

The Democrats targeted this week are all people the president has publicly berated. 

"I've been very concerned about the president's tone not being willing to call out and call up for that matter the two former presidents who were going to be victims of this kind of attack and one of the things about this president is, I don't think he understands that words matter," Warner said. "I mean, I was governor of Virginia when we had the sniper incident years ago, and how leaders respond in these moments of crisis in reassuring the public, in trying to bring us together, clearly not the way," Warner said Friday.

Warner suggested the president has the wrong focus and expressed hope that his Republican colleagues will step up and condemn the president's language. At 3 a.m. on Friday morning, the president tweeted, "Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, "it's just not Presidential!"  

"Well, I think as we've seen from his tweets overnight, Donald Trump thinks all of this is simply about him," Warner said. "And what I hope, I hope along the way would be that the next outrage would finally make many of my Republican colleagues step up. Now privately they have expressed these concerns. This may be the moment because again we've got 10 pipe bombs, an act of terror, and yet the president is out instead blaming the media as opposed to supporting the FBI and trying to make sure they find this culprit."    

Warner said he believes the suspect will be brought to justice, but expressed broader concern about the state of the nation's rhetoric. 

"I believe we will find this culprit," Warner said. "But I think in a time our political debate has gotten so rough. And frankly when the president at times calls out and impugns the integrity of the FBI, impugns the integrity of the Justice Department. I believe in many ways he basically has an assault on the rule of law."

Warner also expressed concern over the president's reported use of an unsecured cell phone that leaves his conversations vulnerable to Russian and Chinese spies. Mr. Trump called the New York Times report "boring" and untrue. Warner said he'll be receiving an update on that shortly. 

"But what I do know is this if it is true in a world where cyber-security is one of our key areas where we are vulnerable I believe still as a nation, this would be one more example of the president basically is ignoring the overall advice of the intelligence community." 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.