Press Releases

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the below statement on the Trump Administration’s proposal to rewrite U.S. Department of Education guidelines regarding schools’ handling of allegations of sexual assault and harassment:

“I have repeatedly expressed concerns about the Trump Administration’s approach to this serious issue and said that any new process should prioritize the needs of survivors. That remains my position. I will be examining the Department’s proposal and consulting with experts to determine whether it would undermine the progress that campus sexual assault survivors and advocates have achieved in recent years,” said Sen. Warner. “The Department’s seemingly narrow interpretation of schools’ obligations to students is further reason for Congress to advance bipartisan legislation that better protects students and sets clear responsibilities for institutions handling allegations of campus sexual assault.” 

Sexual assault on college campuses remains a pervasive issue. Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, colleges and universities have a legal obligation to provide an environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs and activities. Sexual harassment and sexual violence are forms of sex discrimination prohibited under Title IX. Sexual assault on college and university campuses is notoriously underreported and, too often, adjudication processes and survivor support services vary from campus to campus, making fairness and transparency all the more elusive. 

Sen. Warner is an original cosponsor of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which would establish higher incentives on all universities, including those in Virginia, to empower student survivors and hold perpetrators accountable. The bill was supported by more than one-third of the U.S. Senate in the 114th Congress.

In September 2017, Sen. Warner called the Trump Administration’s decision to review previous guidelines on campus sexual assault a “red flag” and called for Secretary DeVos to prioritize the interests of sexual assault survivors in the rulemaking process.

 

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WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to respond to reports that the company used contractors to retaliate against or spread intentionally inflammatory information about their critics. Since the 2016 election, both the government and Facebook internal investigations have revealed that the company failed to adequately protect the data of its 2.2 billion users. Recent reports—including one from the New York Times—allege that Facebook has taken significant steps to undermine critics, including hiring partisan political consultants to retaliate and spread intentionally inflammatory information about people who have criticized Facebook, which, if not properly disclosed, may have campaign finance implications.

“We are gravely concerned by recent reports indicating that your company used contractors to retaliate against or spread intentionally inflammatory information about your critics,” the senators wrote. “In addition, the staggering amount of data that Facebook has collected on both its users and people who have not subscribed to or consented to use of the platform, raises concern that the company could improperly or illegally use its vast financial and data resources against government officials and critics seeking to protect the public and our democracy.”

“Both elected officials and the general public have rightfully questioned whether Facebook is capable of regulating its own conduct.” 

Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act, led by Klobuchar, Warner, and the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and cosponsored by Coons and Blumenthal, would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online, including social media platforms like Facebook, are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and print.

 

The full text of the letter can be found below:

 

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

 

We are gravely concerned by recent reports indicating that your company used contractors to retaliate against or spread intentionally inflammatory information about your critics.  

Since the 2016 election, both the government and your own internal investigations have revealed that your company failed to adequately protect the data of its 2.2 billion users. Your company also failed to implement protocols to prevent manipulation by foreign adversaries working to undermine America’s political system. Both elected officials and the general public have rightfully questioned whether Facebook is capable of regulating its own conduct.  

According to recent reports, your company hired contractors to retaliate and spread intentionally inflammatory information about people who have criticized Facebook, which, if not properly disclosed, may have campaign finance and other potential legal implications. In addition, the staggering amount of data that Facebook has collected on both its users and people who have not subscribed to or consented to use of the platform, raises concern that the company could improperly or illegally use its vast financial and data resources against government officials and critics seeking to protect the public and our democracy.

In light of these concerns, we respectfully request you answer the following questions:

 

1.      To your knowledge, did your company hire any entity – including, but not limited to research firms and contractors – to collect or find information to be used in retaliation against people who criticized Facebook, including elected officials who were scrutinizing your company?

 

2.      Did your company hire any entity – including, but not limited to research firms and contractors – to spread negative or intentionally inflammatory information in retaliation against people who criticized Facebook, including elected officials who were scrutinizing your company?

 

3.      Did your company – or any entity affiliated with or hired by your company – ever use any of the vast financial and data resources available to Facebook in retaliation against people who criticized Facebook, including elected officials who were scrutinizing your company?

 

4.      Did your company – or any entity affiliated with or hired by your company – ever seek to conceal information related to foreign interference with the 2016 U.S. election from the public or government investigators? 

 

5.      Did your company – or any entity affiliated with or hired by your company — ever contact any media outlets with negative or misleading information, or suggest, promote, or amplify negative or misleading social media about your critics, including elected officials scrutinizing your company?

 

6.      How much money have you expended or paid other entities to collect, find, spread or amplify information about people who have criticized Facebook, including elected officials scrutinizing your company? Has any of that spending been publically disclosed?

 

7.      Some of us have requested that the Deputy Attorney General expand the scope of the Department of Justice’s existing investigations to include the latest reports that Facebook hired contractors to retaliate and spread negative information about people who criticized the company. If the Department’s investigation is expanded to include this recent report, will you commit to co-operating with any investigation into this matter? 

 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) announced that they will introduce legislation to make lifelong learning more accessible for low- and moderate-income workers. TheLifelong Learning and Training Account Act would establish a tax-preferred savings account with a generous government match to assist workers seeking to retrain or upskill over the course of their careers. 

In the coming years, more workers will be required to learn new skills throughout their careers. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, up to one-third of the U.S. workforce will need to learn new skills or find work in new occupations by 2030 due to automation. As a result, American workers are increasingly likely to hold many different jobs over the course of their careers, and in many cases technology will transform the skills they need and even the types of jobs available. The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act would provide workers with a portable, government-matched savings vehicle for lifelong learning.

“Lifelong learning is quickly becoming a necessity for American workers. We need to make sure Americans are able to retrain and upskill throughout their career, so they can thrive in the modern economy,” said Sen. Warner. “This will not happen on its own. It requires a serious investment to help workers pay for the education and training necessary to modernize their skills—by employees, by employers, and by the government. The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act represents that serious investment.”

“The digital, fast-changing nature of today’s economy has significant consequences for workers. More than ever before, individuals will need to acquire new skills over the course of their careers,” said Sen. Coons. “TheLifelong Learning and Training Account Act empowers workers, with help from government and employers, to take charge of their future by actively planning, saving for, and completing the training programs they need to thrive in this economy.”

“Although national unemployment is at historic lows, small business owners are still struggling to find the workers they need due to a skills gap,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. “In fact, Small Business Majority's scientific opinion polling found more than one-third of small employers said it is difficult to find candidates with the right education, skills or training. Since small firms rarely have enough time to dedicate to extensive staff training or sufficient funds to pay for employee education, the Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act would be a huge boost to small businesses by offering them another way to invest in the development of their staff. This legislation would also help solo entrepreneurs invest in their own development and acquire skills without the aid of an employer.” 

“In an economy where more than 80 percent of all jobs require some form of education and training beyond high school, it is more important than ever for workers to be able to access the skills and credentials that can help them advance their careers,“ said Kermit Kaleba, Federal Policy Director of the National Skills Coalition.“The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act would provide workers with a critical tool to take advantage of emerging educational opportunities so they can keep pace with a rapidly changing labor market. We applaud Senator Warner’s continued leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with the Senator to ensure passage of the Lifetime Learning and Training Account Act.” 

“Education and training shouldn’t stop after high school or college. We need to provide workers with new opportunities to add or update skills throughout their careers,“ said Alastair Fitzpayne, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative said. “Creating a culture of lifelong learning is critical to building a skilled and resilient workforce. By incentivizing workers, businesses, and government to co-invest in education and skills training, Lifelong Learning & Training Accounts will help workers continue to develop skills and better manage their economic future.” 

The Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act creates employee-owned Lifelong Learning and Training Account (LLTA) savings plans. Contributions to an LLTA by low- and moderate-income workers or their employers are eligible for a dollar-for-dollar federal match of up to $1,000. The federal matching funds are directly deposited into the LLTA immediately after the contribution by the worker or employer. The worker then gets to choose how to use the LLTA funds, which can be applied towards any training that leads to a recognized post-secondary credential.

For workers that need to contribute to the cost of updating their job skills, this significant federal investment can make a huge difference in whether or not these workers seek additional training. If employers are willing to match employees’ savings, the returns can be even greater—a $500 contribution by a worker would create $2,000 in training opportunities (a $500 match by the employer, and then a $1,000 match from the federal government.) The accounts are portable from job to job, and always under the workers’ control.

Contributions by workers and employers are after-tax dollars, but face no additional taxes on earnings if the LLTA funds are used for qualified training expenses. Eligibility is for workers age 25 to 60, with incomes of up to $82,000 per worker. States will manage the accounts. Accounts are designed to encourage the worker to use the funds to regularly update their skills, rather than build up large balances over many years. Restrictions are put in place to ensure that the government’s matching dollars go only to qualified training expenses.

The full text of the bill can be found here. The bill will be officially introduced when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) to award four African American women scientists the Congressional Gold Medal for their work at NASA Langley passed the U.S. Senate with unanimous support. The bill would give this distinction to Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden and posthumously award the medals to Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. It serves to commend these women for their contributions to NASA’s success during the Space Race and highlight their broader impact on society – paving the way for women, especially women of color, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives, where a companion bill has been introduced.

“These four remarkable women and their contributions to the success of the Space Race remained unacknowledged for far too long,” said the Senators. “We are thrilled that their achievements while at NASA Langley—particularly during a tough period of racial inequality—continue to be brought to light. This recognition will help carve their rightful place in history and inspire a new generation of diverse women to lead the way in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the U.S. It is awarded to those who have performed an achievement that has had an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized in the recipient’s field for years to come.

The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act will honor:

  • Katherine Johnson, who calculated trajectories for multiple NASA space missions including the first human spaceflight by an American, Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission. She also calculated trajectories for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission to orbit the earth. During her time at NASA, she became the first woman recognized as an author of a report from the Flight Research Division.
  • Dorothy Vaughan, who led the West Area Computing unit for nine years, as the first African American supervisor at National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became NASA. She later became an expert programmer in FORTRAN as a part of NASA’s Analysis and Computation Division.
  • Mary Jackson, who petitioned the City of Hampton to allow her to take graduate-level courses in math and physics at night at the all-white Hampton High School in order to become an engineer at NASA. She was the first female African-American engineer at the agency. Later in her career, she worked to improve the prospects of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers, and scientists as Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager.
  • Dr. Christine Darden, who became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Mary Jackson. She worked to revolutionize aeronautic design, wrote over 50 articles on aeronautics design, and became the first African-American person of any gender to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service at Langley.

The lives and careers of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden were featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly. That book was adapted into the 2016 film Hidden Figures, which the Senators showed at a Capitol Hill screening for hundreds of Virginia students last year. In addition, Sens. Warner & Kaine honored Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson by acknowledging their achievements in an official statement that was enshrined in the Congressional Record.

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Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader-elect Chuck Schumer today announced the Senate Democratic Leadership for the 116th Congress following Senate Democratic leadership elections.

The Senate Democratic Leadership for the 116th Congress:

  • Senate Democratic Leader and Chair of the Conference: Senator Charles Schumer
  • Democratic Whip: Senator Dick Durbin
  • Assistant Democratic Leader: Senator Patty Murray
  • Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee: Senator Debbie Stabenow
  • Vice Chair of the Conference: Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • Vice Chair of the Conference: Senator Mark Warner
  • Chair of Steering Committee: Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • Chair of Outreach: Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Vice Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee: Senator Joe Manchin
  • Senate Democratic Conference Secretary: Senator Tammy Baldwin

 

“I’m honored to continue as a part of the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership team in the 116th Congress,” said Vice Chair of the Conference Mark Warner (D-VA). “Senate Democrats look forward to working with our colleagues – including the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives – to expand economic opportunity, protect access to health care, and hold the Trump Administration accountable on behalf of the American people.” 

“I am excited and humbled to be chosen by my colleagues to continue leading Senate Democrats,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “I will continue to spend every moment working on how we as Democrats can improve life for the middle class and those trying to get there. We have a unique opportunity in the new Congress to reach more bipartisan agreements to get things done for families across the country, and we will be ready to work with the president and our Republican colleagues on issues where we agree. However, we will not shy away from standing up to President Trump and Congressional Republicans with everything we’ve got when the values we as Americans hold dear are threatened.”

“I am honored that the Senate Democratic Caucus has again supported me to serve as Whip.  Our party is more diverse than ever, our Congress is divided, and the challenges we face are great.  But we can, and must, come together to meet those challenges,” said Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). 

“Voters across the country sent a loud and clear message that they are done with full Republican control of government and are ready for a change,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray (D-WA). “I am proud of the work we’ve done to fight back against Republican attempts to repeal health care reform and to lay out a positive agenda for patients, students, workers, women, seniors, and the middle class. And now I look forward to getting to work with Leader Schumer and the rest of our strong leadership team, our Senate caucus and the new House Democratic majority, which includes so many amazing new faces—and any Republicans willing to work with us to fight back against President Trump’s disastrous agenda and make progress for the families we represent.” 

“Senate Democrats are unified and ready to hit the ground running on important issues for Michigan and our nation like lowering the cost of prescription drugs and making a major investment in our infrastructure,” said Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “I am looking forward to continuing to serve in Senate leadership and am excited to welcome our new colleagues, Kyrsten Sinema and Jacky Rosen, to the Senate.” 

“On November 6th, Americans went to the polls and put power back in the hands of the people, where it belongs. Voters sent a powerful message; they want their leaders to defend democracy and fight for the rights and interests of all Americans, rather than just for the wealthy and the well-connected. I’m proud to be part of this fight with my Democratic colleagues” said Vice Chair of the Conference Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“The people of this country have sent a clear message that now is the time to get to work on the issues that matter to Americans, like ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions don’t lose their health insurance, addressing the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, and making sure that we have an optimistic economic agenda that supports families, workers and businesses. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move our country forward,” said Chair of Steering Committee Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Chair of Outreach Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said, “As chair of outreach I have worked hard to bring the American people into the political process. Now, we must ensure that Congress follows through on what they demanded on November 6: an economy and government that works for all, not just the 1 percent. I look forward to continuing that struggle with my Democratic colleagues.”

“The last few months have been full of charged language and divisive politics. But the American people have spoken and it is time to put politics aside to do the important governing ahead of us. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to finally secure the hard-earned pensions of our retired coal miners and ensure the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions still have access to healthcare,” said Vice Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said, “I’m proud to have an opportunity to be a part of our leadership team as Senate Democrats continue working to make a difference in people’s lives and move our country forward.”

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,799,911 in federal funds to boost broadband access in Southwest Virginia and on the Eastern Shore. The funding, awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Connect Grant Program, will be used to construct and expand broadband access in rural and underserved communities. 

“Broadband access is vital to the economic success of the Commonwealth and the nation,” the Senators said. “These federal funds will help Virginia connect to the digital age while expanding access to healthcare, educational, and job opportunities.” 

The Scott County Telephone Cooperative will receive $3,000,000 to construct a fiber-to-the home broadband system that will provide internet access to 554 households and 20 businesses in Scott County, Virginia. A community center will also be established where residents will have free access to computers and WiFi. 

Eastern Shore Communications, LLC will receive $1,799,911 to construct a broadband fiber fixed-wireless high-speed network capable of servicing residents of Chincoteague, Wallops Island, Accomac, Exmore, Cape Charles, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk with speeds of at least 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream. 

Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of expanding broadband access in Virginia as Governors and Senators. In February, Warner and Kaine joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to urge President Trump to include broadband in an infrastructure initiative.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after Amazon selected Crystal City in Virginia as one of two sites for their second headquarters:

“As a former Governor, now Senator, but also as a former technology executive, I'm really excited about the potential Amazon offers not only to Northern Virginia but the whole capital region and the entire Commonwealth. We've seen that major investments like these can bring not only thousands of direct jobs but also lead to job growth in other industries. As we welcome Amazon's new investment in Virginia, we must commit to implementing this announcement in a way that will benefit the whole region and all of the Commonwealth.”

 

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Washington, DC – Top Senate and House Democrats today released a new letter to the Department of Justice’s Chief Ethics Official, Assistant Attorney General Lee J. Lofthus, in which they outline the number of serious ethical considerations that should preclude any involvement by President Trump’s handpicked Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker with the Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, and that require Mr. Whitaker’s immediate recusal. In the letter, the Democrats also request that the Department of Justice’s chief ethics officer immediately notify them whether he has advised Mr. Whitaker to recuse himself from supervision of the special counsel’s investigation.

The letter, signed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, includes a number of examples of Mr. Whitaker’s many conflicts of interest and hostile statements toward Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. These include Mr. Whitaker’s televised statement suggesting that the investigation be defunded or subjected to strict limitations on its scope, a published online opinion piece referring to the investigation as a witch hunt, and a statement in which he pre-judged the outcome of the investigation.

 

The full text of the Democrats’ letter can be found here and below: 

 

November 11, 2018

 

The Honorable Lee J. Lofthus
Assistant Attorney General for Administration 

  and Designated Agency Ethics Officer

Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Assistant Attorney General Lofthus:

We are writing to you in your capacity as the Justice Department’s Designated Agency Ethics Official regarding the supervision of Special Counsel Robert Mueller by Mr. Mark Whitaker, the newly appointed Acting Attorney General.  There are serious ethical considerations that require Mr. Whitaker’s immediate recusal from any involvement with the Special Counsel investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.  

 

Mr. Whitaker has a history of hostile statements toward Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, including televised statements suggesting that the investigation be defunded or subjected to strict limitations on its scope.  On June 9, 2017—not even a month after the Special Counsel was appointed—Mr. Whitaker stated on a radio show:  “There is no criminal obstruction of justice charge to be had here.  The evidence is weak.  No reasonable prosecutor would bring a case.”[1]

 

On July 26, 2017, Mr. Whitaker stated that he “could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that attorney general doesn't fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt.”[2]  Mr. Whitaker has also made reference to the Special Counsel investigation as “a mere witch hunt” and published an opinion article entitled “Mueller’s Investigation of Trump Is Going Too Far” in which he argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should place limits on the scope of the investigation.[3]  He has even claimed publicly that “[t]he left is trying to sow this theory that essentially Russians interfered with the U.S. election. Which has been proven false. They did not have any impact in the election that is very clear from the Obama Administration.”[4]  This statement demonstrates plainly that Mr. Whitaker has pre-judged the outcome of the Special Counsel investigation.

In addition to his public criticism of the Special Counsel investigation, Mr. Whitaker appears to have troubling conflicts of interest that may also require his recusal from the investigation.  In 2014, Mr. Whitaker served as chairman of the campaign of Sam Clovis to be Iowa State Treasurer, and Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Clovis have reportedly remained in close contact.[5]  Mr. Clovis served as a national co-chairman of the Trump presidential campaign, and in that capacity supervised George Papadopoulos, the Trump foreign policy advisor who sought to set up a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, and who has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with agents of the Russian government.[6] As you know, following advice from career Department ethics officials, Attorney General Sessions recused from the Special Counsel investigation given his senior role on the Trump campaign and a series of undisclosed contacts with Russian government officials.[7] 

The official supervising the Special Counsel investigation must be – in both fact and appearance – independent and impartial.  Regrettably, Mr. Whitaker’s statements indicate a clear bias against the investigation that would cause a reasonable person to question his impartiality.  Allowing a vocal opponent of the investigation to oversee it will severely undermine public confidence in the Justice Department’s work on this critically important matter.  Mr. Whitaker’s relationship with Mr. Clovis, who is a grand jury witness in the Special Counsel investigation, as well as Mr. Whitaker’s other entanglements, raise additional concerns about his ability to supervise the investigation independently and impartially.  

For these reasons, we request that you immediately notify us in writing regarding whether you, or any other ethics officials at the Justice Department, have advised Mr. Whitaker to recuse from supervision of the Special Counsel investigation, and the basis for that recommendation.  We also request that you provide us all ethics guidance the Department has provided to Mr. Whitaker to date.

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

Democratic Leader

U.S. Senate

 

Nancy Pelosi

Democratic Leader

U.S. House of Representatives

 

Dianne Feinstein

Ranking Member

Committee on the Judiciary

U.S. Senate

 

Jerrold Nadler

Ranking Member

Committee on the Judiciary

U.S. House of Representatives

 

Mark R. Warner

Vice Chairman

Select Committee on Intelligence

U.S. Senate

 

Adam B. Schiff

Ranking Member

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

U.S. House of Representatives

 

Elijah Cummings

Ranking Member

Committee on Oversight &

Government Reform

U.S. House of Representatives

 

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[1] The David Webb Show (June 9, 2017) (online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYQzupQzNOQ).

[2] CNN Tonight, CNN (July 26, 2017) (online at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1707/26/cnnt.01.html).

[3] Matthew Whitaker, Mueller’s Investigation of Trump Is Going Too Far, CNN (Aug. 6, 2017) (online at www.cnn.com/2017/08/06/opinions/rosenstein-should-curb-mueller-whittaker-opinion/index.html).

[4] The Chosen Generation Radio Program (Mar. 3, 2017) (online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCA120DtAhI).

[5] See, e.g.Whitaker’s Friendship with Trump Aide Reignites Recusal Debate, Reuters (Nov. 8, 2018) (online at www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-whitaker/whitakers-friendship-with-trump-aide-reignites-recusal-debate-idUSKCN1ND2SN).

[6] Statement of the Offense, United States v. Papadopoulos (D.D.C. Oct. 5, 2017) (online at www.justice.gov/file/1007346/download).

[7] Attorney General Sessions Statement on Recusal, Department of Justice (Mar. 2, 2017) (online at www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-sessions-statement-recusal).

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) has pressed the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) regarding recent reports documenting serious hazards in military housing at several bases in Virginia.

An investigation by Reuters revealed significant problems in base housing such as cockroaches, mice, mold and leaks, and described the difficulty that military families have encountered in getting the private management companies that own and operate the housing to address issues posing health hazards for families living in the homes. As part of its investigation, Reuters identified problems at several facilities across the country, including Fort Belvoir, Quantico, Oceana Naval Air Station, and other Hampton Roads naval bases. Most of the issues Reuters uncovered involved contractor Lincoln Military Housing, which manages 36,000 military family homes nationwide, including thousands of rental units in Hampton Roads.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis addressing what the Senator termed “unacceptable conditions” in the homes, Warner demanded a briefing from the Defense Department on the current situation as well as a plan from DoD to ensure the safety of military families residing in private housing moving forward.

“The health and safety of our service members and their families are of the utmost importance. Our nation’s military families deserve safe and healthy housing.  It is imperative that you determine a plan to alleviate these issues in the coming weeks,” Sen. Warner wrote.

This isn’t the first time Sen. Warner has intervened on behalf of military families experiencing health hazards in military housing. Back in 2011, dozens of military families stationed in Norfolk described problems with the same contractor identified in Reuters’ recent report, Lincoln Military Housing. As now, the affected families – experiencing issues such as leaks, mold, and infestation – recounted major difficulties in getting the company or the Navy to  take the complaints seriously. After Sen. Warner got involved, however, Navy brass and Lincoln executives pledged to improve their responsiveness, and the company took steps to address mold and other hazards. 

“As a result, [Lincoln Military Housing] agreed to offer free mold inspection to any resident requesting the service, to hire an independent professional engineering firm to survey the conditions, to update training for maintenance teams and more; the Navy also committed to improving tracking tools and enhancing oversight of property management performance. But today it appears that these changes were insufficient or ignored,” Sen. Warner noted in this week’s letter to the Secretary of Defense

In August of this year, Sen. Warner – along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) – alsopressed Secretary of the Army Mark Esper to address problems with lead poisoning affecting families at several Army bases around the country, including Fort Belvoir.

The full text of the letter appears below. A signed copy of Sen. Warner’s letter to Sec. Mattis is available here

 

The Honorable James N. Mattis

Secretary of Defense

U.S. Department of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

 

Dear Secretary Mattis:

 

I am writing to express my deep concern over a recent Reuters article alleging pervasive health hazards in private military housing across the country, including at Fort Belvoir, Oceana Naval Station, Quantico, and in additional areas in Hampton Roads Virginia. The article documents unacceptable conditions such as rodents and mold in housing and describes the difficulties military families face in ensuring these hazards are addressed by private real estate companies.

 

This is not the first time that unhealthy conditions in military housing have been documented. In November 2011, I was made aware of similar complaints regarding mold in private military housing in the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. Working with Navy officials and impacted military families, I strove to ensure that both the Navy and Lincoln Military Housing, a residential real estate management company responsible for the housing, implemented a plan to reduce these hazards. As a result, LMH agreed to offer free mold inspection to any resident requesting the service, to hire an independent professional engineering firm to survey the conditions, to update training for maintenance teams and more; the Navy also committed to improving tracking tools and enhancing oversight of property management performance. But today it appears that these changes were insufficient or ignored. 

 

In 2015, the Department of Defense’s own Inspector General expressed concerns about unsafe military housing, specifically related to Fort Belvoir and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. More recently, I was in touch with the U.S. Army regarding another Reuters article, alleging lead poisoning at a number of Army installations across the country.   

 

I ask that you provide our office with a detailed briefing as soon as possible outlining the immediate and long-term mitigation strategy to ensure military housing – both public and private – is safe and secure for our servicemembers and their families, and to provide legislative proposals or guidance on legislation needed to ensure that there is increased accountability for private companies. Please contact Caroline Wadhams in my office with questions. She can be reached at 202-224-2418.   

 

The health and safety of our servicemembers and their families are of the utmost importance. Our nation’s military families deserve safe and healthy housing.  It is imperative that you determine a plan to alleviate these issues in the coming weeks.

 

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. I look forward to your timely response.

 

Sincerely,

Mark R. Warner

 

 

###

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement on the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

“No one is above the law and any effort to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation would be a gross abuse of power by the President. While the President may have the authority to replace the Attorney General, this must not be the first step in an attempt to impede, obstruct or end the Mueller investigation.

“Senators from both parties have repeatedly affirmed their support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Every one of them should speak out now and deliver a clear message to the President that the Special Counsel’s investigation must continue without interference.”  

 

###

U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) authors of the Honest Ads Act, urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to address significant apparent loopholes in Facebook’s ads transparency tool. Earlier this week, Vice News published a story about their reporters’ experiences in buying political ads on Facebook. The reporters found that while Facebook’s transparency tool required them to verify their identification and U.S. addresses before they could buy ads, once they were verified, the reporters were able to post divisive ads and lie about who paid for them. ProPublica also issued a report detailing how corporations have been able to hide sponsorship of ads on Facebook. While Facebook committed to implementing transparency measures similar to those that the Honest Ads Act would require, they are currently failing to carry out the basic disclosure and disclaimer provisions of the legislation. The major gaps existing in Facebook’s transparency tool could allow adversaries to exploit the platform with continued disinformation efforts.

“The fact that Facebook’s new security tools allow users to intentionally misidentify who placed political ads is unacceptable. That Facebook is unable to recognize ads connected to a well-established foreign interference operation is also deeply troubling. Both point to a central vulnerability that enable these kinds of ads: Facebook’s failure to utilize human reviewers of the political ads it sells,” the senators wrote. “Free and fair elections require both transparency and accountability which give the public a right to know the true sources of funding for political advertisements in order to make informed political choices and hold elected officials accountable. However, it is clear that there are significant loopholes with regard to how Facebook sells ads and the process by which disclaimers are applied to political ads.”

“We strongly urge you to take every step necessary to close these loopholes in the transparency tool.”

Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act, which was also sponsored by the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and print.

The Honest Ads Act would enhance the integrity of our democracy by improving disclosure requirements for online political advertisements by:

  • Amending the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002’s definition of electioneering communication to include paid Internet and digital advertisements and requiring proper disclaimers on both electioneering communications and issue ads.
  • Requiring digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly viewers to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
  • Requiring online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

Reports indicate that Facebook’s new security tools allow users to intentionally misidentify who purchases political ads on your platform.  We write to express concern about significant apparent loopholes in Facebook’s ads transparency tool and to urge you to promptly address this issue.

Americans have a right to know who is behind political ads that are designed to influence our democracy, and platforms like Facebook have a responsibility to ensure that the ads they sell have accurate disclaimers about who paid for them. In multiple appearances before Congress this year, you acknowledged that in the past Facebook did not take a broad enough view of its responsibility and that failure to do so was a mistake. You specifically said, “Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure that they're used for good.”

We appreciate the work that Facebook has done to implement the Honest Ads Act, our legislation to create transparency and accountability measures for paid online political ads. However, it is increasingly clear that major gaps exist in Facebook’s efforts, potentially allowing adversaries to exploit your platform with continued disinformation efforts.

A number of recent news articles demonstrate the shortfalls in your company’s existing systems. The New York Times pointed to the shortcomings of Facebook’s political disclosure regime on October 17th, reporting that a Congressional candidate was being targeted with anonymous attack ads. In contrast to the terms of the Honest Ads Act, which requires disclosure of information related to the real party in interest associated with a political advertisement, these ads included a disclaimer that read: “Paid for by a freedom loving American Citizen exercising my natural law right, protected by the 1st Amendment and protected by the 2nd amendment.” Subsequently, on October 26th, Vice News published an article titled “Facebook’s Ad Tool Lets Us Buy Ads “Paid For” By Mike Pence and ISIS”. The report details that while Facebook’s ad tool initially required the reporters to verify their identities and addresses before purchasing ads, it subsequently allowed them to place inaccurate disclosures on the ads – falsely attributing the ad to 3rd parties. Additionally, VICE News employees were able to post verbatim replica copies of ads that have now been identified to be part of a widespread disinformation campaign on the part of Russian government agents during the 2016 election cycle.

On October 30th, Vice News released a second report describing how its employees applied to purchase ads on behalf of each United States Senator, including ads “paid for by” all of the signatories of this letter. Facebook approved the ads despite the fact that they were both fraudulent and in violation of the company’s overall terms of service.

The fact Facebook’s new security tools allow users to intentionally misidentify who placed political ads is unacceptable. That Facebook is unable to recognize ads connected to a well-established foreign interference operation is also deeply troubling. Both point to a central vulnerability that enable these kinds of ads: Facebook’s failure to utilize human reviewers of the political ads it sells.

Free and fair elections require both transparency and accountability which give the public a right to know the true sources of funding for political advertisements in order to make informed political choices and hold elected officials accountable. However, it is clear that there are significant loopholes with regard to how Facebook sells ads and the process by which disclaimers are applied to political ads. You have committed to implementing transparency measures similar to those that the Honest Ads Act would require; however, your company is currently failing to carry out the basic disclosure and disclaimer provisions of the legislation.

We strongly urge you to take every step necessary to close these loopholes in the transparency tool. We appreciate your prompt attention and look forward to continuing to work with you to promote more transparent political advertising.

Sincerely,

###

Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined a group of Senators in writing to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray to request information regarding the extent to which President Trump and the White House were involved in the abrupt decision to reverse course on plans for the FBI headquarters project, and whether that involvement was appropriate. The Senators requested emails, correspondence, memos, notes, comments, papers, faxes, photographs, and text messages related to the decision-making process.

This request follows an investigation led by the General Services Administration Inspector General (GSA IG), which consisted of a review of GSA’s decision-making process regarding the revised plan for the FBI headquarters project. That investigation revealed potentially inappropriate involvement by the White House and that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy may have misled Congress about White House involvement in the project.

“In light of the GSA Inspector General’s findings and other evidence indicating potentially inappropriate involvement by the White House, we believe it is critical that you provide us with information regarding the process used at the FBI that resulted in the new plan, as well as the extent to which influence from or communications with the White House impacted this process,” the Senators wrote.

Along with Sen. Warner, the letter is signed by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).


November 1, 2018

The Honorable Christopher Wray
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20535

Dear Director Wray:

We write today regarding the recent decision by the General Services Administration (GSA), at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to rescind a long-studied proposal for consolidation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Headquarters. Specifically, we have serious questions about the extent to which President Trump and the White House were involved in the abrupt decision to reverse course on plans for the FBI headquarters project, and whether that involvement was appropriate.

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office issued a report stating “the FBI’s headquarters facilities—the Hoover Building and the headquarters annexes—do not fully support the FBI’s long-term security, space, and building condition requirements.” In response, GSA and the FBI conducted a thorough review of the facility needs of the FBI and recommended that the FBI headquarters be moved to a new location within the National Capital Region.[1]

Many resources have been devoted over the last decade to this project. There is consensus that the existing structure is in serious disrepair and must be replaced. Despite reaching significant milestones in this process, earlier this year, GSA reversed course and revised its plan for the FBI headquarters project. This announcement was met with much confusion and skepticism.[2]

In reaction to this reversal and the submittal of a revised plan, the GSA Inspector General conducted a review of GSA’s decision-making process regarding the revised plan for the FBI headquarters project. The resulting review[3] included alarming findings,[4] such as the determination[5] that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy’s testimony before the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee “was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with White House officials in the decision-making process about the project.” In addition, the Inspector General found discrepancies in the cost comparisons between previous cost estimates and the revised plan for consolidation, concluding that officials are greatly underestimating the cost of keeping the headquarters in the District. Specifically, GSA excluded the $750 million value for the J. Edgar Hoover (JEH) Building exchange in its total shortfall calculation, and did not acknowledge the $65,000 per person increase associated with the rebuild. On September 20, 2018, we sent a letter to the Inspector General at the Department of Justice asking him to “examine the extent to which President Trump and the White House were involved in the abrupt decision to reverse course on plans for the FBI consolidation project, and whether that involvement was appropriate.”[6]

More recently, the New York Times reported on extensive White House involvement in the decision to cancel the plan to move the FBI building and rebuild on the same site.[7] On that same day, documents were released that indicated that President Trump was directly involved with the decision to abandon the old plan and instead move ahead with a more expensive proposal to construct a new building on the same site, “and thereby prevent Trump Hotel competitors from acquiring the land.”[8] These new documents show that top GSA officials promised to “hold our ground” on this proposal “per the President’s instructions.”

In light of the GSA Inspector General’s findings and other evidence indicating potentially inappropriate involvement by the White House, we believe it is critical that you provide us with information regarding the process used at the FBI that resulted in the new plan, as well as the extent to which influence from or communications with the White House impacted this process. Specifically, we request your office please provide us with responses to the following:

1. Please describe the decision-making process or protocol the FBI followed in connection with the FBI headquarters project. Please provide us with all documents relied upon in connection with the FBI headquarters project. Please provide a copy of any and all documents evincing communications sent or received by any FBI employee regarding calculation or review of the costs associated with the rebuild plan.

2. Prior to your being sworn in as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on August 2, 2017, did you or anyone at the FBI have any conversations or meetings with the White House, GSA, or representatives of the Trump Organization (or its businesses) about the FBI headquarters project? If so, please provide (a) the date, time, and location of the conversation or meeting, (b) the name and title of the participants, and (c) a detailed summary of the conversation or meeting. Please provide copies of any and all documents created in connection with each such conversation or meeting.

3. Please provide a copy of any and all documents evincing communications between anyone at the FBI and GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Dan Mathews, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and/or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein regarding the FBI headquarters project. For any phone calls or in-person meetings with these individuals, please provide (1) the name and title of the participants, and (2) a detailed summary of what was discussed.

4. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on December 14, 2017, after meeting with the FBI, Commissioner Mathews emailed Administrator Murphy, stating: “There are several things coming out of this meeting we need to discuss. WH has been talking to FBI too.”

a. Please provide (a) the date, time, and location of the conversation or meeting between Commissioner Mathews and the FBI, (b) the name and title of the participants, and (c) a detailed summary of the conversation or meeting.
b. Were you or any other FBI employee involved in communications with the White House on or prior to December 14, 2017 about the FBI headquarters project? Please provide copies of all documents evincing communications between the White House and FBI about the FBI headquarters project.

5. Please provide a copy of any and all documents evincing communications between GSA and the FBI regarding the FBI headquarters project.

6. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on December 21, 2017, Commissioner Mathews received and passed on to Administrator Murphy a slide presentation from the FBI regarding renovation options for the Hoover Building. Please provide a copy of the referenced slide presentation and any other presentation created or obtained by the FBI about the FBI headquarters project, along with any accompanying additional documents.

7. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on December 22, 2017, you called Administrator Murphy to inform her “of the FBI’s interest in remaining at the existing site.”

a. Please provide a detailed summary of this conversation.
b. Please provide a copy of any and all documents created in connection with this conversation.

8. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on January 4, 2018, GSA and FBI officials met at the JEH building to discuss options for the FBI headquarters. That meeting was attended by you, GSA Associate Administrator P. Brennan Hart III, Administrator Murphy, Commissioner Mathews, then-FBI Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich, and the Unit Chief of the FBI’s Headquarters Program.

a. Please provide a detailed summary of the discussion at the meeting, including the topics of discussion and the speakers for each topic. Please state whether anyone at this meeting described communications with the White House or Trump Organization regarding the FBI headquarters project.

9. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, at some point between January 4 and January 24, you discussed the demolish-rebuild option with Administrator Murphy in a telephone call. According to Administrator Murphy, you “liked the plan,” but had some reservations.

a. Please provide a copy of any and all documents created in connection with this conversation.
b. Please explain the “reservations” you had with the plan and provide any and all documents providing the basis for your concern.

10. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, Administrator Murphy told the Inspector General that as of January 23, 2018, GSA’s recommendation was to demolish and rebuild at the JEH site with a ground lease-leaseback to finance the project. The FBI, according to Murphy, was developing an estimate for renovation. Please provide a copy of any and all documents related to the FBI’s estimates for renovation.

11. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on January 24, 2018, you attended a pair of meetings at the White House, first with Chief of Staff Kelly, Director Mulvaney, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and Administrator Murphy, and the second with those officials and President Trump in the Oval Office. Administrator Murphy told the GSA Inspector General that Director Mulvaney requested the first meeting “to ensure that everyone was on the same page prior to meeting with the president.”

a. For any documents created in connection with the January 24, 2018 meeting either before or after that meeting, please state: (1) who, specifically, requested that the document be created; (2) who contributed to the document; (3) and whether that document was shared with anyone at the White House. Please provide a copy of the relevant document.
b. Please provide a detailed summary of the questions and statements made during these meetings.
c. According to Administrator Murphy, during this meeting you reiterated your concern that if the FBI left the JEH building, it would not be able to return to the JEH site after the rebuild was completed. Please explain this concern in detail and provide any and all documents providing the basis for your concern.

12. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, GSA emails “reflect that GSA and FBI personnel who were involved with the project, but not in attendance at the meeting, also understood that the meeting had resulted in a decision or direction to move forward at the JEH site using a ground lease-leaseback funding mechanism.” For example, in an e-mail sent on January 27, 2018 from then-GSA Associate Administrator and Acting Chief of Staff P. Brennan Hart III to Commissioner Mathews, Hart states: “Ideally I think it would first recap the oval meeting with what POTUS directed everyone to do then ask Emily (GSA) to execute POTUS’s orders.”

a. Please describe the President’s specific “orders” and “direction” referred to in Mr. Hart’s email described above.
b. Please provide a copy of any and all documents conveying the ground lease-leaseback plan to FBI personnel on or after January 24, 2018.

13. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on January 28, 2018, Commissioner Mathews emailed the Assistant Director of the FBI Finance Division, Rich Haley, stating: “Though I don’t see us conceding these two key points, GL LB [ground lease-leaseback] can be classified as an operating lease and demolish rebuild, as they are necessary to deliver the project the president wants on the timetable he wants it done.”

a. Please explain what is meant by “the project the president wants on the timetable he wants it done” as used in Mr. Hart’s email described above. What is the specific project the President wants completed? What is the timeline he ordered you to follow?
b. Please provide a copy of any and all documents showing specific details about the project and timeline ordered by the President.

14. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on April 17, 2018, Administrator Murphy failed to disclose the three White House meetings or White House involvement in response to question from a House Appropriations Subcommittee.

a. Did anyone within the White House, OMB, or the Department of Justice ask you or anyone else at the FBI not to disclose their involvement with the FBI headquarters project? If so, please provide (a) the date, time, and location of that conversation, and (b) a detailed summary of what was said and by whom.
b. Did you or anyone at the FBI speak with Mr. Mathews or Administrator Murphy regarding their testimony to Congress, either before or after the hearings? If so, please provide a detailed summary of those conversations.

15. According to the GSA Inspector General’s report, on June 15, 2018, you attended a second meeting with the President at the White House to discuss the FBI headquarters project.

a. Please provide a detailed summary of the discussion at the meeting, including the topics of discussion and the speakers for each topic. Please state whether Commissioner Mathews’ or Administrator Murphy’s testimony at their respective hearings was discussed during this meeting.
b. Please provide a copy of any and all documents evincing communications between you and anyone at the White House regarding scheduling this meeting or discussing its purpose.
c. For any documents created in connection with the June 15, 2018 meeting either before or after that meeting, please state: (1) who, specifically, requested that the document be created; (2) who contributed to the document; (3) and whether that document was shared with anyone at the White House. Please provide a copy of the relevant document(s).

16. Did you or anyone else at the FBI have meetings or conversations with the White House about the FBI headquarters project after June 15, 2018? If so, please provide (a) the date, time, and location of the conversation, (b) the name and title of the participants, (c) a detailed summary of the conversation, and (d) any and all documents related to these meetings or conversations.

17. Have you or anyone else at the FBI ever had a conversation with the White House or the GSA about the GSA Inspector General investigation, the Report, or its findings? If so, please provide (a) the date, time, and location of the conversation, (b) the name and title of the participants, (c) a detailed summary of the conversation, and (d) any and all documents related to these meetings or conversations.

18. Has anyone within the White House ever asked you or anyone else at the FBI to assert a privilege in connection with your statements about the FBI headquarters project? If so, please provide (a) the date, time, and location of the conversation, (b) the name and title of the participants, (c) a detailed summary of the conversation, and (d) the purported basis for the privilege. Further, please provide a copy of any and all documents evincing communications between you or anyone else at the FBI and anyone at the White House about the assertion of privilege and the purported basis for that privilege in connection with this project.

19. On August 27, 2018, Senator McCaskill sent a letter to the GSA Inspector General asking, among other things, “how the GSA OIG incorporated comments from GSA and/or FBI into the final draft of the report.” In the Inspector General’s September 10 response, that office indicated that it asked the FBI for factual accuracy comments on information the FBI had provided to the GSA Inspector General in connection with its review. The FBI provided the GSA Inspector General with those comments on August 8, 2018. Further, it appears that the FBI provided comments orally on the draft report.

a. Please provide us with a copy of the written comments the FBI provided on August 8.
b. Please provide a detailed description of the oral comments the FBI provided upon reviewing the draft report, as well as the names of those who provided the comments. Please provide copies of any documents reflecting those comments.

20. As described above, it was recently reported that some years before Donald Trump became President of the United States, he “expressed interest in the FBI moving out of its current headquarters so he could buy the land and redevelop the property.”[9] Please provide a copy of any and all documents evincing communications between Donald Trump, the Trump organization, or Donald Trump’s representative, and the FBI about the FBI headquarters project.

21. On February 28, 2018, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held its “Hearing on Oversight: FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project.”[10] Following that hearing, several Committee Members sent Questions for the Record to the FBI on March 15, 2018. It has been more than seven months since that submission and the Committee still has not received responses from the FBI. Please provide those responses immediately.

For purposes of this letter, “documents” includes, but is not limited to, emails, correspondence, memos, emails, notes, comments, papers, faxes, photographs, and text messages.

Please provide us with responses within 30 days. If you or members of your staff have any questions regarding this request please contact Michal Freedhoff and Kenneth Martin on the Environment and Public Works Committee staff at 202-224-8832.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after a state-owned enterprise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a Taiwan company, and three individuals were indicted for a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from the American semiconductor company Micron:

“The reciprocal trading system that has existed between the U.S. and China can endure only on the basis of mutual respect for the rule of law, including fair trials and the enforcement of property rights. The Chinese government’s complicity in intellectual property theft hurts American manufacturers, workers, and consumers, and undermines the ability of U.S. businesses to operate in China. The Administration has powerful, targeted tools at its disposal to hold bad actors accountable for theft of U.S. companies’ IP and trade secrets, even when the theft takes place abroad. I applaud the Department of Justice for using one of those tools today to hold China accountable, and encourage the Administration to take additional steps to crack down on economic espionage by Chinese businesses and the Chinese government.”

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that two Virginia organizations have received nearly $500,000 in federal funds to expand access to health care services for patients in rural and underserved areas through the use of telemedicine.

“Communities across Virginia have been hit hard by opioid abuse. Too often, those seeking treatment for addiction struggle to get the medical and mental health care they need. Expanding access to telehealth services is a critical way to expand treatment and recovery options, especially in more rural areas of Virginia,” said the Senators.

The Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance has received $226,554 to expand access to opioid abuse treatment for the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore of Virginia. In the area, demand for opioid treatment services exceeds the capacity of available mental health providers. The funds will be used to purchase video conferencing equipment and telemedicine carts to expand treatment options for over 18,000 rural residents.

The St. Charles Health Council has received a grant of $269,044 to develop a telehealth program in Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee and Smyth counties, which will allow patients to receive specialty medical care from providers in physically distant areas, such as the University of Virginia, using video conferencing and other technology. The program will also expand access in the region to mental health services, including treatment for opioid addiction.  

The funds were awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development.

Last week, President Trump signed into law a bipartisan substance abuse treatment bill, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which included provisions authored by both Senators to improve the quality of addiction recovery programs and expand access to addiction treatment through telehealth services.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Banking Committee, wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons expressing concern following a report published by Buzzfeed detailing continued prevalence of digital advertising fraud and inaction by Google to curb these efforts. According Buzzfeed, this scheme has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent advertising revenues, with operations spanning more than 125 Android apps and websites.

In July 2016, Sen. Warner and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote to FTC Chairwoman Ramirez calling on the agency to protect consumers from the growing digital ad fraud phenomenon. Since then, reports have estimated that digital ad fraud has only grown to $7.4 billion in 2017 – and projected to rise to $10.9 billion by 2021.

At the center of Buzzfeed’s report is Google, the only tech company absent for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s September hearing on social media’s role in protecting elections from misinformation and disinformation. The extent to which many popular online communications technologies have been exploited – and their providers caught repeatedly flat-footed – has been continuously highlighted in the course of investigating Russia’s unprecedented inference in the 2016 election. In the same way that bots, trolls, click-farms, fake pages and groups, ads, and algorithm-gaming can be used to propagate political disinformation, these same tools can – and have – been used to assist click fraud in digital advertising markets and efforts to convince large numbers of users to download malicious apps on their phones.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

The Honorable Joseph J. Simons
Chairman
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Chairman Simons,

I am writing to express my continued concern with the prevalence of digital advertising fraud, and in particular the inaction of major industry stakeholders in curbing these abuses. In 2016, Senator Schumer and I wrote Chairwoman Ramirez to express frustration with the growing phenomenon of digital ad fraud. Digital ad fraud has only grown since that time, rising to $7.4 billion in 2017 – and projected to rise to $10.9 billion by 2021. I am greatly concerned with recent reporting from Buzzfeed, detailing a massive digital advertising fraud scheme that depends, in large part, on a network of compromised Android apps. As Buzzfeed reports, this scheme generated hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent advertising revenues, with operations spanning more than 125 Android apps and websites.

In the course of investigating Russia’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 election, the extent to which many popular online communications technologies have been exploited – and their providers caught repeatedly flat-footed – has been unmistakable. More than illuminating the capacity of these technologies to be exploited by bad actors, the revelations of the last year have revealed the dark underbelly of an entire ecosystem. In the same way that bots, trolls, click-farms, fake pages and groups, ads, and algorithm-gaming can be used to propagate political disinformation, these same tools can – and have – been used to assist financial frauds such as stock-pumping schemes, click fraud in digital advertising markets, schemes to sell counterfeit prescription drugs, and efforts to convince large numbers of users to download malicious apps on their phones.

According to Buzzfeed, a recent ad fraud ring vividly illustrates this problem, with potentially millions of consumers unwittingly downloading and engaging with apps that captured the behavior of app users in order to program a network of bots mimicking user activity to engage in multi-million dollar ad fraud. While these techniques continue to grow more sophisticated, none of this is new for industry stakeholders. Sophisticated, user-mimicking bots have been widely publicized for a number of years now. According to leading researchers, one in five ad-serving websites is visited exclusively by bots engaged in ad fraud. Digital ad fraud thrives because of the opaqueness of the programmatic ad market, where user data is bought and sold in ways users are unwitting to, in order to target advertisements in ever more sophisticated ways.

At the center of this scheme was a strategy of buying moderately popular, legitimate Android apps – seemingly innocuous products like mobile games, a flashlight app, and a healthy eating app – and using the installed user base as both a source of fake traffic and behavioral data to model fraudulent bot behavior. Google’s inattention to misconduct within its app store has been a growing concern. In November of 2017, researchers found that over 1 million users had downloaded a spoofed version of WhatsApp. Researchers also routinely find banking Trojans and other malware in the Google Play store. While Google made an estimated $20 billion last year from the Google Play store, its mobile app ecosystem features considerably more malware and fraudulent activity than that of its mobile operating system competitors.

Google’s inattention to misconduct within its app store also enabled the extensive fraud involved here. In addition to failing to notify users of the change in ownership, Google failed to detect changes in the apps that facilitated extensive user tracking subsequently used for bot behavior. Nor did it detect the myriad indicators of coordinated fraudulent activity between the apps – including overlaps in app content, source code, IP addresses, SDKs, and common traffic patterns. Despite being approached by researchers in June with evidence of part of this scheme, Google failed to dig deeper to reveal the full scope of this fraudulent activity. While there is no evidence Google had direct knowledge, Google’s ad network and ad exchanges were also implicated in these schemes. At the very least, it seems that across a number of its products Google may have engaged in willful blindness, all while profiting from this fraudulent activity. 

I encourage you to look closely at these reports, including the extent to which major ecosystem stakeholders engage in willful blindness to fraudulent activity in the online ad market.

Sincerely,

 ###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), joined by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) sent a letter to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors Chairman Jack Evans, opposing their proposal to terminate the Riders’ Advisory Council. Tomorrow, after previous assurances by the WMATA Board Chairman that the Council would continue to operate, the Board plans to vote on whether to eliminate the Council and instead rely on its web survey system for rider input. Since 2005, the WMATA Riders’ Advisory Council has provided direct rider feedback to the WMATA Board on issues impacting all WMATA customers. The Council meetings are a way for riders and the general public to provide comments and express concerns about WMATA’s services.

The Senators write, “At a time when WMATA is rebounding from years of deep safety and operational problems and rebuilding trust with riders, it is disappointing to see an effort that is interpreted as a lack of interest in public input. We hope you will reconsider your position on this and not vote to terminate the Council. It is important to show riders that WMATA is interested in hearing from the people it serves.”

They continued, “We appreciate the need to evaluate the most productive means of facilitating public input. If there is a need to restructure the channels through which WMATA receives feedback, that can be done without dissolving the primary entity through which the views of Metro riders can reach Metro leadership.” 

The Senators concluded the letter stating, “Metro has a long way to go to restore rider trust but has made significant strides, including in being forthright with the public about necessary inconveniences associated with long-deferred safety maintenance work. Dialogue with the public is a critical element of bringing Metro ‘Back2Good,’ and we hope you will not let this priority fade. We hope to learn from you why you support the termination of the Rider’s Advisory Council and how you intend to proceed to ensure that the people who use the system will continue to be able to provide feedback.”

 

 

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

 

Dear Chairman Evans:

 

We write in opposition to the proposal to terminate the Riders’ Advisory Council. At a time when WMATA is rebounding from years of deep safety and operational problems and rebuilding trust with riders, it is disappointing to see an effort that is interpreted as a lack of interest in public input. We hope you will reconsider your position on this and not vote to terminate the Council. It is important to show riders that WMATA is interested in hearing from the people it serves.

 

We appreciate the need to evaluate the most productive means of facilitating public input. If there is a need to restructure the channels through which WMATA receives feedback, that can be done without dissolving the primary entity through which the views of Metro riders can reach Metro leadership.

 

If WMATA’s intent is to receive more public comment in written form, we suggest it adopt rules for public responsiveness similar to the provisions in federal laws like the Administrative Procedure Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Under these laws, federal agencies may agree or disagree with public comments, but they must, upon pain of litigation, substantively address all issues raised in comments. An equivalent requirement would give the public some certainty that their communications will be read and will not disappear into a digital void.

 

Metro has a long way to go to restore rider trust but has made significant strides, including in being forthright with the public about necessary inconveniences associated with long-deferred safety maintenance work. Dialogue with the public is a critical element of bringing Metro “Back2Good,” and we hope you will not let this priority fade. We hope to learn from you why you support the termination of the Rider’s Advisory Council and how you intend to proceed to ensure that the people who use the system will continue to be able to provide feedback.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated key provisions from their bills to address the opioid crisis becoming law. The comprehensive substance abuse treatment bill, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, was just signed into law by President Trump after it passed the Senate 98-2 and the House 393-8. The legislation includes four proposals from Warner that initially passed out of the Senate Finance Committee as part of the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 and three proposals from Kaine that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.

“This comprehensive legislation takes significant steps to stem the opioid epidemic that has devastated communities across the Commonwealth. By making necessary improvements to substance abuse treatment and recovery services, we can help save lives. That’s why I’m proud to report that this historic package includes several proposals that I championed to expand telehealth services to ensure more families get the addiction treatment they need,” said Warner.

“This bill is the product of a strong bipartisan effort to tackle the addiction crisis that is taking lives in Virginia and across the country. I’m proud the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act includes my proposals to help ensure job training is incorporated into recovery programs and that the kids who are hurt by this crisis get the resources they need. This comprehensive effort aiming to address prevention, treatment, and recovery is an important step toward solving the addiction crisis,” Kaine said.

Warner and Kaine have worked over the years to move legislation forward to combat the substance abuse epidemic, which in 2017 accounted for more than 72,000 deaths nationwide.

The final bill included provisions from four Warner bills to: 

  • Expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment.
  • Make clear how Medicaid funds can be used for substance use disorder treatment through telehealth.
  • Help ensure children suffering from substance use disorders receive the assistance they need through telehealth services.
  • Improve data collection on substance use disorders among Medicaid recipients.

 The final bill included proposals from three Kaine addiction treatment bills to:

  • Give states the resources and guidelines to ensure recovery homes are effectively helping residents sustain recovery from opioid and substance use disorders.
  • Incorporate job training into drug addiction recovery programs.
  • Afford schools the opportunity to apply for grants to directly offer trauma support services to students impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Last month, Warner and Kaine voted for a FY19 funding bill that increased funding to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support programs related to the opioid crisis, including an additional $3.8 billion for treatment, prevention and research.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Elena Khusyaynova, a Russian national, with interfering in the upcoming midterm elections:

“This new indictment by the Justice Department demonstrates the serious nature of these ongoing attacks on our democratic process. I commend the career officials at DOJ who continue to work tirelessly to stop foreign actors from sowing division and spreading distrust in our political system. This is why the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation has been focused on some of the dangers posed on social media platforms.

“But the threat is not over. As the criminal complaints notes, these attacks continue to this day. It is critical for Congress to step up and immediately act to employ much-needed guardrails on social media. And as I've said before, these companies need to work with Congress so we can update our laws to better protect against attacks on our democratic institutions.”

 

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WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a group of more than 150 House and Senate Democrats in requesting U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos turn over more information regarding the Department’s flawed handling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The program helps certain government or non-profit full-time employees receive loan forgiveness for the remaining balance of their federal student loans. The request follows the release of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which revealed an alarming number of PSLF borrowers have been denied loan forgiveness. The report also showed the Department has neglected to provide clear guidance and instructions to loan servicers. This failure at the Department has left servicers and borrowers in the dark about which employers qualify and without detailed, accurate information regarding their loan payments.

“Consumer advocates, state regulators, Members of Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and GAO have all repeatedly raised alarms about the Department’s handling of the PSLF program,” the Members wrote. “Not only has this Administration ignored the mounting warning signs… but it has actively reduced oversight of student loan servicers—thereby contributing to the current problems in student loan servicing.”

Additionally, official Department data recently showed that a shocking 99.6 percent of borrowers applying for PSLF have thus far been denied. Previous requests to Secretary DeVos to improve PSLF have been ignored, and the Administration has even proposed eliminating the critical loan forgiveness program entirely.

Members also requested a timeline for implementing each GAO recommendation, a copy of the Department’s corrective action plan, and further details about the Department’s plan to reach out to all Direct Loan borrowers about PSLF and to fully digitize the employment certification and application process. It is critical that Congress have this information as authorizers of the program and to make any potential legislative corrections. Sens. Warner and Kaine have both pressed the Department for increased clarity and consistency for PSLF borrowers, including in the April 2017 letter found here.

“We are deeply troubled that millions of dedicated public servants may not obtain the loan forgiveness that they deserve if the Department does not act quickly to correct program implementation issues,” the Members added.

Sen. Warner has introduced several bipartisan bills to improve transparency, accountability and affordability in higher education, and help borrowers better manage their student loan debts. The Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act would make income-based repayment the default option for borrowers. The Employer Participation in Repayment Act would allow employers to apply pre-tax income to help their employees with student loan payments. Finally, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act would promote financial literacy by providing students who are recipients of federal financial aid with comprehensive counseling services.

Sen. Kaine has led efforts to fix a glitch in the PSLF program that left some public servants facing mountains of unexpected debt because they had unknowingly been in the wrong repayment plan. In March, Congress passed Kaine’s legislation to allow those public servants to apply for the loan relief they had earned. The Trump Administration is responsible for administering the loan relief through the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) Program, but so far the Department of Education has created unnecessary hurdles for borrowers and rejected 88.4 percent of applicants. Kaine has pressed Secretary DeVos to turn things around by creating a simple process that gives fair consideration to the teachers, military personnel, law enforcement officers, and other public servants who apply for this debt relief.

To read the full text of their latest letter, click here. To read more about the GAO report entitled, “Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Education Needs to Provide Better Information for Loan Service and Borrowers,” click here. A summary of key findings can be found here. 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine led ten of his colleagues in sending a letter to the Trump Administration’s lead trade official asking why the Administration’s latest round of Tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods did not include exclusions to protect American businesses. For earlier rounds of tariffs, exclusions apply in cases where an American business needs a specific product from a tariffed country that is not made anywhere in the United States and the inability to access that product would cause severe economic harm to a U.S. business. 

“We write to raise concerns regarding the recently implemented 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods (Round 3) pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Specifically, we have concerns about the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) decision not to include an exclusions process in this latest round of tariffs. The decision not to include an exclusions application process will have a negative impact on American businesses and American consumers,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators note that in prior tariff rounds the USTR recognized the potential harmful effects on a U.S. business and jobs if exclusions were not in place and ask USTR Ambassador Robert Lighthizer why the same consideration was not extended to the most recent round of tariffs. Given those concerns, they concluded with several questions for Ambassador Lighthizer:

·         Does the Administration intend to offer an exclusions application process?

·         If so, how will that process be implemented?

·         If not, what is the rationale for providing no exclusions process in Round 3 of the 301 tariffs when Rounds 1 and 2 included one?

Senators joining Kaine on the letter include Tom Carper (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Doug Jones (D-AL).

 

A full copy of the letter can be found here and below.

 

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

 

We write to raise concerns regarding the recently implemented 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods (Round 3) pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Specifically, we have concerns about the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) decision not to include an exclusions process in this latest round of tariffs. The decision not to include an exclusions application process will have a negative impact on American businesses and American consumers. Given the 10 percent tariff is scheduled to rise to 25 percent on January 1, we urge you to immediately reconsider this decision.

 

China has engaged in unfair trade practices that harm American workers. Those practices must be addressed to ensure that our workers can compete on a fair playing field. However, without an exclusion process, the ability to compete fairly may be unnecessarily impacted for U.S. workers and manufacturers that rely on global supply chains. Goods that are covered by Round 3 of the 301 tariffs should be given the same access to exclusions as were in Round 1 and Round 2. In the September 18, 2018 Federal Register, USTR acknowledged this potential harm and laid out a process to apply for exclusions, writing:

 

“During the notice and comment process, a number of interested persons asserted that specific products within a particular tariff subheading only were available from China, that the imposition of additional duties on the specific products would cause severe economic harm to a U.S. interest, and that the specific products were not strategically important or related to the ‘Made in China 2025’ program. In light of such concerns, the Trade Representative determined to establish a process by which U.S. stakeholders may request that particular products classified within a covered HTSUS [Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States] subheading be excluded from the additional action.”

 

That same consideration has not been extended to the most recent round of tariffs. It should. While Rounds 1 and 2 covered $50 billion in goods, Round 3 covers $200 billion alone. 

 

The 301 investigation, under the Trade Act of 1974, was initiated to investigate whether, “China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory, and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.” Round 1 and Round 2 included products mostly related to technology and included an exclusions process. Round 3 includes items such as backpacks, dog leashes, gift wrap, shampoo, and outdoor recreation products, that Americans use each day and should, therefore, at least include an exclusions process as Round 1 and Round 2 did.

 

Therefore, please provide answers to the following questions:

·         Does the Administration intend to offer an exclusions application process?

·         If so, how will that process be implemented?

·         If not, what is the rationale for providing no exclusions process in Round 3 of the 301 tariffs when Rounds 1 and 2 included one?

 

Given our concern on the impacts of this decision on American consumers and businesses, we ask you to reconsider this decision. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $239,490.47 in federal funding to support organizations in Charlottesville and Roanoke in their efforts to alleviate substandard housing problems for low-income households. The funding was awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development’s Housing Preservation Grant Program.

“We’re pleased to announce funding to support repair and rehabilitation efforts for 75 households in Charlottesville, Roanoke, and Southwest Virginia. This funding will help make needed housing updates for low-income individuals and families,” the Senators said.

The following organizations will receive funding as follows:

  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District in Charlottesville will receive $119,745.24 to alleviate substandard housing problems in the area. The funding will supplement and enhance planned rehabilitation efforts to assist 35 households.
  • Renovation Alliance in Roanoke will receive $119,745.23 to alleviate substandard housing problems for 40 very-low income households in the Counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, and Franklin in Southwest Virginia.

 The USDA’s Housing Preservation Grant Program provides grants to organizations supporting the repair and rehabilitation of housing owned or occupied by low- and very-low income rural households.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $166,800 in federal grants and loans for the towns of Alberta, Pembroke, and Chatham to purchase four police vehicles and equipment through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development. 

“We’re pleased to support rural communities in Virginia with federal funding to purchase updated police vehicles and equipment. This funding will help ensure that police officers have the resources they need to ensure to keep residents safe,”the Senators said.

The following localities will receive funding as follows: 

  • The Town of Alberta will receive a grant of $24,000 and loan of $46,400 to purchase a new fully furnished 2018 Chevy Tahoe 4x4 police vehicle. Additional equipment including a computer, radio, and lighting equipment which will be compatible with the upgraded emergency services radio system being implemented by Brunswick County will also be installed. This project will serve the 298 residents of the town of Alberta.
  • The Town of Pembroke will receive a grant of $20,100 and loan of $37,400 to purchase two new properly equipped all wheel drive police vehicles. The new vehicles will replace two older high mileage vehicles in the fleet that are not safe and reliable. The 1,128 residents of Pembroke will benefit from the improved services and cost savings that these new police vehicles will provide.
  • The Town of Chatham will receive a grant of $13,600 and loan of $25,300 to replace one older car with a modern fully equipped police vehicle. Currently, the town is using older, high mileage vehicles that are unreliable. 

The USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants Program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. Funding awarded through this program seeks to purchase, construct, and/or improve community facilities that are used for health care, public safety, community support, and public service.

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Committee, urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. A letter from the two Senators to the Prime Minister follows comments made by Head-Designee of the Canadian Center for Cyber Security Scott Jones regarding Huawei. 

The entry of Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies like Huawei into the Canadian market could seriously jeopardize the relationship between U.S. and Canadian carriers, depriving North American operators of the scale needed to rapidly build out 5G networks.

The full text of the letter is below. A copy of the signed letter is available here. 

 

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

 

We write with grave concerns about the possibility that Canada might include Huawei Technologies or any other Chinese state-directed telecommunications company in its fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications network infrastructure.  As you are aware, Huawei is not a normal private-sector company.  There is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party—and Huawei, which China’s government and military tout as a “national champion,” is no exception.

 

Based on what we know about Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies, it was troubling to learn that on September 20, 2018, the new Head-Designee of the Canadian Center for Cyber Security Scott Jones told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that banning Huawei is not needed, in response to a question about why Canada has not come out against Huawei as other Five Eyes allies have.  Specifically, he claimed that Canada has “a very advanced relationship with our telecommunications providers, something that is different from most other countries,” adding, “We have a program that is very deep in terms of working on increasing that broader resilience piece especially as we are looking at the next-generation telecommunications networks.”

 

In contrast to Mr. Scott’s comments, however, three former senior Canadian national security officials warned earlier this year against the inclusion of Huawei in Canada’s 5G network.  One of them—Mr. Ward Elcock, former Deputy Minister of National Defence—told the Globe and Mail on March 18, 2018, “I have a pretty good idea of how signal-intelligence agencies work and the rules under which they work and their various operations,” concluding that, “I would not want to see Huawei equipment being incorporated into a 5G network in Canada.”

 

While Canada has strong telecommunications security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei.  Indeed, we are concerned about the impact that any decision to include Huawei in Canada’s 5G networks will have on both Canadian national security and “Five Eyes” joint intelligence cooperation among the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.  As you know, Australia effectively banned Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese state-directed companies from its nation’s 5G networks by excluding firms that “are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government” and therefore pose unacceptable risks to national security.  Moreover, the United Kingdom’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre Oversight Board’s 2018 annual report to Britain’s national security adviser found that “identification of shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecommunications networks and long-term challenges to mitigation and management.”

 

Further, the strong alignment between the United States and Canada in spectrum management has meant that American and Canadian carriers in many cases share complementary spectrum holdings, jointly benefiting from economies of scale for equipment designed for regionally harmonized frequencies. The entry of suppliers such as Huawei into the Canadian market could seriously jeopardize this dynamic, depriving both Canadian and American operators of the scale needed to rapidly build out 5G networks.

 

Given the strong statements by former Canadian national security officials as well as similar concerns out of the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom, we hope that you will reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.  Should you have any questions about the threat that Chinese state-directed telecommunications firms pose to your networks, we urge your government to seek additional information from the U.S. Intelligence Community.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised grant funding for communities in Southwest Virginia through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)’s Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program, totaling $3,417,315.

“We are thrilled to support this economic investment in Southwest Virginia. This funding aims to support projects that will spur economic opportunity and create jobs across the region,” the Senators said. 

The funding will be awarded as follows: 

  • Virginia Community Capital in Christiansburg, VA will receive $2,500,000 to strengthen Central Appalachia’s economy and accelerate market development through Impact Appalachia: A Market-Making Fund for Central Appalachia. The funding will be used to support business development and advance emerging sectors in Central Appalachia, including communities in Virginia. Impact Appalachia will launch an investment fund to raise and deploy capital to expand infrastructure and invest in job-creating businesses that build local wealth and increase quality jobs.
  • LENOWISCO Planning District Commission in Duffield, VA will receive $917,315 for Project Intersection, a new 200-acre industrial site in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. LENOWISCO will partner with Norton Industrial Development Authority and Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority to develop the site into a regional industrial and business hub. The goal is to foster diversification and rejuvenation of the regional economy and lure private investment as well as new employment opportunities. Estimates suggest that the initial phase of development will create 75 jobs and an initial private capital investment of $10 million. Project Intersection is situated at the junction of U.S. Highways 23 and 58A, with the highest cumulative non-Interstate traffic volume in far Southwest Virginia.

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic under development. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Warner and Kaine have continued to be advocates for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia. As Governor, Warner helped establish Virginia Community Capital (VCC) as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with an initial $15 million investment, with the goal of leveraging that initial investment for an economic return to underserved areas.

The ARC’s POWER Initiative provides grants to communities that have been affected by severe job losses in the coal industry and the changing dynamics of America’s energy production. These grants facilitate the growth of new industries in Appalachia and support job training and educational programs that help grow and diversify the region’s economy.

 

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Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), joined by 20 of their colleagues, sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging President Trump to raise Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and distinguished journalist, has been missing since October 2nd when he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. According to some reports, Mr. Khashoggi may have been murdered.   

“These conflicting reports and rampant speculation that he was murdered demand immediate answers from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We urge you to extend support from all appropriate U.S. federal agencies, such as the FBI, to these governments to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s case,” the Members wrote

“We sincerely hope that Mr. Khashoggi emerges unharmed and is free to return safely to the United States, especially given the growing and deeply troubling trend of targeting journalists and oppositionists, not only in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but around the world,” the Members added. “The U.S. must speak out loudly wherever and whenever this occurs.”

Connolly, Kaine, and Warner were joined on the letter by Representatives Beyer, Castro, Chabot, Cicilline, Delbene, Deutch, Dingell, Engel, Espaillat, Hastings, Lieu, McCaul, Meadows, Meeks, Price, Raskin, Schneider, Sherman, Sires, and Suozzi.

The full letter follows and is available here.

 

 

October 9, 2018

 

The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

 

We write to urge you to personally raise the issue of Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and welfare with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We also request that you offer U.S. support to any independent investigation into his disappearance.

 

As you know, Mr. Khashoggi is an internationally renowned journalist and columnist for the Washington Post. In fact, Mr. Khashoggi was granted an O-1 visa, which is reserved for those with “extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics…indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”

 

On October 2, 2018, Mr. Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in order to obtain paperwork related to his upcoming marriage. Reportedly, there has been no confirmation that he departed the consulate though Saudi officials maintain that Mr. Khashoggi did so shortly after he visited.  According to President Erdogan, the Justice Ministry and the chief prosecutor in Istanbul are undertaking an investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s whereabouts. 

 

These conflicting reports and rampant speculation that he was murdered demand immediate answers from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We urge you to extend support from all appropriate U.S. federal agencies, such as the FBI, to these governments to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s case. We sincerely hope that Mr. Khashoggi emerges unharmed and is free to return safely to the United States, especially given the growing and deeply troubling trend of targeting journalists and oppositionists, not only in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but around the world. The U.S. must speak out loudly wherever and whenever this occurs. 

 

Best Regards,