Jun 13 2018
Originally published in Politico
Sen. Mark Warner said he is “embarrassed” for the United States after President Donald Trump’s performance at the G-7 meeting and suggested the president set America’s standing in the world back decades.
“I was frankly embarrassed — embarrassed for our country,” Warner (D-Va.) said on the latest edition of the POLITICO Money podcast. “This is not the way America leads and the way America has led the world through Democratic and Republican administrations since the second World War.”
Warner, mentioned as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, also ripped into Trump’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, saying the president gave Kim much of what he wanted and got little to nothing in return.
“One thing we do know is that North Korea came out a real winner. North Korea, which has been aspiring to have a meeting with a U.S. president on an equal footing since the end of the Korean War, achieved its goal,” he said. “In terms of the United States and the West, I think the jury is out. The North Koreans made, I wouldn’t even call it an agreement, but they made vague promises similar to promises that have been made in prior agreements. Whether they will honor them or not, time will tell.”
Warner suggested Trump has a double standard between Iran, where he demands verifiable evidence of denuclearization, and North Korea, where he appears willing to take Kim’s word for now.
“What do you think the reaction of some of my Republican colleagues would have been if a Democratic president had met with the Grand Ayatollah and come out with a meeting where they got these kind of vague assurances but no commitments?” he said.
Warner also chastised Trump for continually arguing that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada when the federal government’s own data show the opposite is true. “The president does not have much connection with factual reality, and the fact that he has created this norm where he can say anything even when it’s not factually true, I think that does long-term damage in terms of the president’s credibility with a lot of Americans and, obviously, his credibility with a lot of our allies.”
On a potential presidential run, Warner repeated his previous line that he does not have “the fire in the belly” at the moment to make a run. But he did not rule it out, and he articulated what could easily become the framework of a run.
“What I want to do is finish this Russia investigation. I do want to make sure that we’ve got a national security agenda that protects American values,” he said. “And I’d like the Democratic candidate to articulate a forward-leaning economic agenda that’s pro-growth but also that realizes we need a new social contract and, frankly, that modern American capitalism isn’t working for enough people.”