Press Releases

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III delivered his report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to U.S. Attorney General William Barr:

"Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts for themselves. The Special Counsel's report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the Attorney General should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice.

"It is also critical that all documents related to the Special Counsel's investigation be preserved and made available to the appropriate Congressional committees.

"Any attempt by the Trump Administration to cover up the results of this investigation into Russia's attack on our Democracy would be unacceptable."

 

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WASHINGTON – Today the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), joined with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Committee, to introduce bipartisan legislation to protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes.

“Americans should be able to have confidence that the security clearance process is being used only to protect our nation’s greatest secrets,” said Sen. Warner. “Our bipartisan bill will make clear that security clearances are not to be used as a tool to punish political opponents or reward family members, but to ensure personnel are thoroughly vetted to the highest standards.”

“The security clearance system is critical to protecting our country from harm and safeguarding access to our secrets. Americans should have the utmost confidence in the integrity of the security clearance process,” said Sen. Collins. “This bipartisan bill would make the current system more fair and transparent by ensuring that decisions to grant, deny, or revoke clearances are based solely on established adjudicative guidelines.” 

The Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act will ensure that the security clearance process is fair, objective, transparent, and accountable by requiring decisions to grant, deny, or revoke clearances to be based on published criteria. It explicitly prohibits the executive branch from revoking security clearances based on the exercise of constitutional rights, such as the right to freely express political views, or for purposes of political retaliation. It also bans agencies from using security clearances to punish whistleblowers or discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, religion, age, handicap, or national origin.

The bipartisan bill also codifies in statute the right of government employees to appeal decisions to deny or revoke a security clearance, and requires the government to publicly publish the results of such appeals – providing transparency, accountability and basic due process rights in an otherwise opaque and irregular process. 

The legislation aims to enhance the rigor and accountability of our security clearance process and to prevent abuses. It complements other reforms the executive branch is undertaking to modernize how the government processes clearances, and was developed with input from a wide range of experts across the government and in private law practice. 

A copy of the bill text is available here. 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence again favorably reported out the nomination of William R. Evanina to continue serving as Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC). The nomination was first passed by the Committee last May.

“Director Evanina’s ability to effectively lead the NCSC is not in doubt,” Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said. “Over the years, he has proven time and again he has the real-world experience and professionalism our country needs to navigate increasingly complex threats to both the public and private sectors. Congress called attention to the importance of counterintelligence matters by making the director a Senate-confirmed position. It should confirm a full-time director without any further delay.” 

“Absolutely no one questions Bill Evanina's qualifications for a job he has been doing for years already in an acting capacity, which is why the Senate Intelligence Committee has once again unanimously approved his nomination to be Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center,” Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) said. “From brazen Russian espionage, to Chinese IP theft, to insider threats, our country is facing an enormous number of thorny and complex counterintelligence challenges. We need a Senate-confirmed leader to head our nation's counterintelligence strategy. Bill Evanina should be confirmed without further delay.” 

“I’m pleased to once again support Bill Evanina’s nomination as Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.  Counterintelligence is vital to our national security and his confirmation for this position is long-overdue,” said Senator James Risch (R-ID).

“Today’s unanimous vote by the Intelligence Committee in favor of Bill Evanina’s nomination to be Director of the National Counterintelligence Security Center is a strong signal of support for Bill’s leadership of this crucial institution,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said. “At a time when the counterintelligence threats our nation faces have never been higher, I urge the full Senate to act on this nomination in short order.” 

“Director Evanina has a demonstrated track record of leadership, professionalism, and expertise in the counterintelligence field,” said Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). “I’m proud to support his nomination to continue leading the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. I hope to see the Senate quickly move forward on confirming Director Evanina, and all of the senior intelligence community nominees we need in place to keep our country safe.”

“The United States is under constant threat from spies who seek to compromise our critical infrastructure and steal our most closely guarded secrets,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said. “Rival countries like China are engaged in sophisticated campaigns to penetrate the government agencies, industries, and research laboratories that power and protect our nation. Technology theft alone costs our nation tens of billions each year. The cost to our security is far higher. Counterintelligence professionals like William Evanina fight every day to protect our nation from foreign spies. Mr. Evanina is a former law-enforcement officer with years of experience in counterintelligence. I’m proud to support his re-nomination to lead the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.”

 

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Doug Jones (D-AL) today re-introduced the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act, a bipartisan bill to enforce full compliance by ZTE, a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws, with all probationary conditions in the Commerce Department’s July 2018 deal to lift the denial order’s seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE. If the Commerce Secretary cannot regularly certify ZTE’s full compliance with the deal and with relevant U.S. export controls and sanctions laws, the denial order’s crippling punishments will be reinstated against ZTE. 

“When it comes to violating U.S. sanctions and deceiving our government, ZTE is a repeat offender. Companies like ZTE threaten our security and compromise American interests but this administration has failed to hold them accountable. This much-needed legislation will force the telecom firm to play by the rules by imposing punitive measures if ZTE once again violates trade restrictions or its agreement with the U.S,” said Senator Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to hold the Chinese state-directed telecoms company, ZTE, accountable for repeated violations of U.S. exports controls and sanctions laws," Senator Rubio said. “China’s communist government continues to threaten our national security interests through state-directed actors and, while it was a mistake to strike a ‘deal’ with ZTE in the first place, this bill would ensure ZTE is held accountable if and when it cheats again.” 

“ZTE’s actions represent a threat to our national security. While we work on a broader strategy to combat China’s theft of advanced U.S. technology and brazen violation of U.S. law, we must act to ensure ZTE is not able to violate the current agreement with the Department of Commerce or break our laws. This bipartisan legislation will help hold their feet to the fire and should be considered without delay,” Senator Van Hollen said. 

“Having continuously violated American sanctions on Iran and North Korea, ZTE’s disregard for U.S. laws undermines our national security interests and cannot be tolerated,” Senator Collins said. “Our bipartisan bill would require the Department of Commerce to monitor ZTE and effectively put ZTE out of business if they are found to be noncompliant, ensuring the safety of our economy and national security.” 

“ZTE – with the support of the Chinese government – has repeatedly violated U.S. sanctions, and they must be held accountable for their actions,” Senator Moran said. “The bipartisan ZERO Act would authorize the Commerce Department to monitor ZTE and make certain they are not violating the current trade agreement. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to protect our national security interests from bad actors and ensure ZTE faces severe penalties if they break the law again.” 

“ZTE must be held accountable for violating our sanctions laws and threatening U.S. national security interests, not given a slap on the wrist and allowed to do business in the United States,” Senator Warren said. “I’m glad to work with Senators in both parties on a bill to ensure that this company faces severe penalties if it breaks the law again or violates its settlement agreement.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, reintroduced legislation to modernize our antiquated security clearance system, reduce the background investigation backlog and ensure the government has the trusted workforce necessary to perform its national security and public safety missions. Last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) added the government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Process to their High-Risk List of federal areas in need of broad-based transformation or specific reform to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.  This legislation was first introduced in December 2018 and draws on provisions from the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018/2019, which was unanimously reported out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 2018. 

Sen. Warner also wrote to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Director of National Intelligence Coats and other key officials, to reiterate his call for urgent and aggressive implementation of needed reforms. 

“The current vetting process for security clearances and positions of trust is too complicated, takes too long, costs too much, and fails to capitalize on modern technology and processes,” wrote Sen. Warner. “We are taking too many security risks and losing talented people who are not willing to endure a years-long process. Our current system is broken and needs a revolution.” 

“In order to achieve our shared objectives, we must avoid politicizing and delaying reform efforts,” he continued. “We must act now, especially amidst allegations of inappropriate granting and revoking of clearances and anxieties caused by the government shutdown.”

The Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act would:

  • Hold the Executive Branch accountable for addressing the immediate background investigation backlog crisis.
  • Provide a plan for consolidating the National Background Investigation Bureau at the Department of Defense.
  • Implement practical reforms so that policies and clearance timelines can be designed to reflect modern circumstances. 
  • Require that reforms be implemented equally for all departments, and for personnel requiring a clearance, regardless of whether they are employed by the government or industry.
  • Strengthen oversight of the personnel vetting apparatus by codifying the Director of National Intelligence’s responsibilities as the Security Executive Agent.
  • Promote innovation, including by analyzing how a determination of trust clearance can be tied to a person, not to an agency’s sponsorship. 

“PSC and the contractor community owe Vice Chairman Warner thanks for his tenacious and persistent focus on modernizing and streamlining the federal government’s security clearance processes,” said David J. Berteau, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council. “Excessive backlogs and wait times add risk to government missions, contract performance, and the ability of both the government and contractors to recruit and hire the talent we need. Enactment of the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act will reduce these negative impacts while maintaining integrity in the system and better protecting our national security.”

“We deeply appreciate Senator Warner’s leadership on critical security clearance reform. For our members to attract and retain technology talent, we must seriously reduce the clearance cycle time. This is crucial for our ability to serve the nation effectively,”said Bobbie Kilberg, CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council.  

“While the security clearance backlog is slowly getting smaller, we need urgent steps to ensure the U.S. government and U.S. companies doing critical national security work can recruit, hire, and retain talented individuals to work on classified programs. AIA supports the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2018 as a positive step towards resolving the security clearance backlog and positioning us to employ the workforce essential to ensuring our security into the future," said Eric Fanning, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. 

Sen. Warner has been a strong voice on security clearance reform, urging the White House to prioritize reforms to the clearance process. 

During the recent partial government shutdown, Sen. Warner wrote to the Administration to ensure that federal employees did not have their security clearances jeopardized through no fault of their own, due to their loss of pay.

For more information on this legislation, click here. 

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

 

 

January 31, 2019

 

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney

Acting White House Chief of Staff

The White House

Washington, DC  20503

 

The Honorable Margaret Weichert

Deputy Director of the Office of Management & Budget,

Acting Director, Office of Personnel Management

Chair, Performance Accountability Council

The White House

Washington, DC 20503

 

The Honorable Daniel Coats

Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable Joseph Kernan

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence

5000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-5000

 

Dear Mr. Mulvaney, Ms. Weichert, Mr. Coats, and Mr. Kernan:

 

I write you to reiterate my March 13 and September 25, 2018, letters to then-chief of staff John F. Kelly, calling for urgent and aggressive implementation of reforms to the government’s antiquated process for ensuring we have a trusted government and contract workforce.

 

The current vetting process for security clearances and positions of trust is too complicated, takes too long, costs too much, and fails to capitalize on modern technology and processes.  We are taking too many security risks and losing talented people who are not willing to endure a years-long process.  Our current system is broken and needs a revolution.  In order to achieve our shared objectives, we must avoid politicizing and delaying reform efforts.  We must act now, especially amidst allegations of inappropriate granting and revoking of clearances and anxieties caused by the government shutdown.

 

A new vetting paradigm should be built on a few basic principles, delineated in a bill I introduced last year and am reintroducing in the 116th Congress, S. 3724, Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2018.

 

·         Accountability: requiring plans for reducing the background investigation inventory to a steady state of roughly 200,000 from its high point of 725,000 in April 2018; consolidating the National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB) in the Department of Defense; and maintaining transparency in the costs of background investigations; and ensuring reciprocity. 

 

·         Reform: rethinking the current suite of investigative methods; adopting consistent and clear policy for interim clearances, uniform treatment of government and contract personnel, and use of automated records checks; setting bold design goals to process applications for SECRET clearances in 30 days and TOP SECRET clearances in 90 days; and ensuring prompt reciprocity. 

 

·         Oversight: codifying the roles and responsibilities of the DNI as the government’s Security Executive Agent in statute.  

 

·         Innovation: employing a process that reflects current threats, a mobile workforce, and modern technologies; reduces the complexity of a five-tier system; enables sharing of derogatory information between and among government agencies and contractors; and reexamines which positions even need a clearance.

 

The good news is that I believe the executive branch is contemplating many of these reforms.  An executive order to consolidate NBIB at the Department of Defense has been under consideration for many months.  The Performance Accountability Council is poised to implement a Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative with a comprehensive policy and process framework, but that first requires White House endorsement. 

 

I urge you to act swiftly and aggressively to push forward these much needed reforms.

 

I stand ready to help provide legislative and oversight leadership an effective, efficient, accountable, and fair process to ensure we have a trusted workforce.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance, requested ongoing briefings from the Trump Administration regarding the deal it reached to remove sanctions on several companies owned by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Sen. Warner wrote, “I write today to express my concern that the agreement the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) reached with Oleg Deripaska does not remove Deripaska’s ability to control EN+, Rusal, and EuroSibEnergo, and I ask that you timely provide the Senate Intelligence Committee with the same information OFAC requests or receives under the agreement and the results of any audits performed at OFAC’s request under the agreement so that Congress can continue its ongoing oversight of the sanctions imposed on Deripaska and his companies.” 

On Sunday, the Trump Administration formally lifted sanctions on the three firms linked to Deripaska, including a company that is the world’s second-largest aluminum producer.

Added Sen. Warner, “I am deeply concerned by the reports that there were details of the agreement not disclosed in your December 19, 2018 letter to Majority Leader McConnell regarding the agreement with Deripaska. The additional information strengthens my conviction that Deripaska will continue to exert control over EN+, Rusal, and EuroSibEnergo. Based on those reports and the letter, I understand that Deripaska’s equity stake in EN+ will decrease to 44.95 percent.  But when combined with the holdings of the family and close associates of Deripaska—including his personal foundation, his ex-wife, her father, and a firm with links to her family—means that Mr. Deripaska will continue to be closely associated with nearly 57 percent of the equity of EN+ after the restructurings contemplated by the agreement.” 

Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 57-42 in favor of a resolution that would stop the lifting of sanctions – short of the 60 votes needed to move the resolution forward. The House of Representatives approved the resolution 362-53, with a majority of members from both parties voting in favor of retaining the sanctions.

“Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate signaled their concern with this agreement. These recent reports strengthen my determination that the agreement Treasury has struck with Deripaska needs to be overseen strictly not only by OFAC but also by Congress,” Sen. Warner added. “Your letter describes the ongoing auditing, certification and reporting and other information rights that OFAC will receive with respect to these companies under the agreement. I ask that you provide the Senate Intelligence Committee with the same information OFAC requests or receives regarding the companies and the results of any audits performed at OFAC’s request under the agreement so that Congress can continue its ongoing oversight of the sanctions imposed on Deripaska and his companies.” 

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

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

 

I write today to express my concern that the agreement the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) reached with Oleg Deripaska does not remove Deripaska’s ability to control EN+, Rusal, and EuroSibEnergo, and I ask that you timely provide the Senate Intelligence Committee with the same information OFAC requests or receives under the agreement and the results of any audits performed at OFAC’s request under the agreement so that Congress can continue its ongoing oversight of the sanctions imposed on Deripaska and his companies.

I am deeply concerned by the reports that there were details of the agreement not disclosed in your December 19, 2018 letter to Majority Leader McConnell regarding the agreement with Deripaska.  The additional information strengthens my conviction that Deripaska will continue to exert control over EN+, Rusal, and EuroSibEnergo.  Based on those reports and the letter, I understand that Deripaska’s equity stake in EN+ will decrease to 44.95 percent.  But when combined with the holdings of the family and close associates of Deripaska—including his personal foundation, his ex-wife, her father, and a firm with links to her family—means that Mr. Deripaska will continue to be closely associated with nearly 57 percent of the equity of EN+ after the restructurings contemplated by the agreement.  You stated in your letter that Mr. Deripaska himself will not be permitted to vote more than 35 percent of his EN+ shares.  And you also implied that the votes of these individuals close to Deripaska will be assigned to an independent third party.  Nevertheless, the combination of a nearly 57 percent equity stake and the ability to vote 35 percent of EN+ shares suggests that Deripaska and his close associates will continue to have the largest stake—by far—in EN+.  

This nearly 57 percent stake alone is sufficient to determine that Deripaska will continue to have the ability to control EN+, Rusal and EuroSibEnergo.  But additional factors strengthen this conclusion.  For example, Deripaska is the founder of EN+, and was responsible for the hiring of many Rusal employees—another avenue for him to exert controlling influence.  Another sanctioned Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, will continue to have a stake through SUAL Partners Limited, which owns 22.5 percent of Rusal.  And VTB, a Russian government-owned bank that is subject to some U.S. sanctions and that has ties to Deripaska, will own about 24 percent.  Taken together, these additional facts mean that Deripaska and companies and individuals connected to him, will continue to have the ability to exert significant control over EN+, Rusal and EuroSibEnergo after the restructuring. 

Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate signaled their concern with this agreement.  These recent reports strengthen my determination that the agreement Treasury has struck with Deripaska needs to be overseen strictly not only by OFAC but also by Congress. 

Your letter describes the ongoing auditing, certification and reporting and other information rights that OFAC will receive with respect to these companies under the agreement.  I ask that you provide the Senate Intelligence Committee with the same information OFAC requests or receives regarding the companies and the results of any audits performed at OFAC’s request under the agreement so that Congress can continue its ongoing oversight of the sanctions imposed on Deripaska and his companies. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  I would appreciate a response by February 3, 2019.

 

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON— Today, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced that their bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China has picked up four new bipartisan Senate co-sponsors. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have co-sponsored Warner and Rubio’s legislation to create an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. 

Companion legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives on January 16 by Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Jim Himes (D-CT), and Will Hurd (R-TX).  

China and other nations are currently attempting to achieve technological and economic superiority over the United States through the aggressive use of state-directed or -supported technology transfers. At the same time, the U.S. is also facing major challenges to the integrity of key supply chains as a result of reliance on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks. A national response to combat these threats and ensure our national security has, to date, been hampered by insufficient coordination at the federal level.

The Warner-Rubio bill would guarantee that there is a federal entity responsible for proactively coordinating interagency efforts and developing a national strategy to deal with these challenges to our national security and long-term technological competitiveness. Under the bill, the Office of Critical Technologies & Security would be directed to coordinate and consult with federal and state tech and telecom regulators, the private sector, nongovernmental experts and academic stakeholders, and key international partners and U.S. allies to ensure that every available tool is being utilized to safeguard the supply chain and protect emerging, foundational and dual-use technologies. The Office would also be responsible for raising awareness of these threats and improving the overall education of the American public and business leaders in key sectors about the threats to U.S. national security posed by the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies by foreign countries and reliance on foreign products – such as those manufactured by Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei – that jeopardize the overall security of private sector supply chains.

“Our message is clear: We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect U.S. competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat,” said Sen. Warner, a former technology and telecommunications executive. “I thank Senator Bennet, Senator Blunt, Senator Coons and Senator Collins for their support of this measure, and I look forward to working with them and the Executive Branch to improve coordination and respond to this threat.”  

“I thank my Senate colleagues for recognizing the importance of this legislation and the continued threat posed by Chinese government’s assault on U.S. intellectual property, U.S. businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Rubio said. “The United States needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect U.S. technology, and this important, bipartisan legislation will streamline efforts across the government. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to enact this legislation and guard against these national security threats.”

“The United States must sharpen efforts to address technology threats from China and other nations that undermine our economic and national security, erode democratic norms, and leave vulnerable our supply chains. Successfully combatting these threats requires a long-term strategy for maintaining U.S. competitiveness in technologies of the future. We must work across public and private sectors to galvanize efforts that ensure our technological competitiveness,” said Sen. Bennet.

“It’s more important than ever for the federal government to have a comprehensive strategy to combat the increase in tech-related security threats from China and other nations,” said Blunt. “This bill is an important step to better protect our critical supply chains and push back against state-sponsored technology theft,” Sen. Blunt said. 

“The United States needs a strategy to protect our critical infrastructure and safeguard technologies in industries of the future like 5G, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and biotech,” said Sen. Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I am proud to support a bill that can improve our government’s capacity to secure our supply chains and prevent forced technology transfer. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill and other similar efforts into law.”

“China’s theft of critical U.S. technologies and increased efforts to expand into our telecommunications market pose as serious threats to our national security and to consumers,” said Sen Collins.  “This bipartisan bill would ensure greater coordination and cooperation between government at the federal and state levels, as well as with nongovernmental experts and the private sector, to develop a long-term strategy on combatting foreign attempts to acquire U.S. technologies.”

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. Warner has also urged the Administration to work with our allies to combat these technology threats. Sens. Warner and Rubio are also the authors of bipartisan legislation to enforce full compliance by ZTE with all probationary conditions of a U.S. Commerce Department’s deal struck with the company last year that ended U.S. imposed sanctions.

For a copy of the bill text, click here

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement after the Department of Justice charged Huawei with the theft of trade secrets, sanctions violations and obstruction of justice: 

“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. It has been clear for some time that Huawei poses a threat to our national security, and I applaud the Trump Administration for taking steps to finally hold the company accountable. 

“This is also a reminder that we need to take seriously the risks of doing business with companies like Huawei and allowing them access to our markets, and I will continue to strongly urge our ally Canada to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of its 5G infrastructure.

“This action further underscores the need for a coordinated, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to dealing with the threat posed by an increasingly forceful China. I will continue to urge the Trump Administration to make China’s rampant IP theft a top priority in ongoing trade negotiations, and will continue pressing for a more coherent, cohesive national strategy to protect U.S. technology and ensure U.S. technological competitiveness.” 

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies.

Earlier this month, Sen. Warner and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to create an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. 

On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. 

In September, Sen. Warner joined several colleagues to introduce the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act. The bipartisan bill would enforce full compliance by ZTE—a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws – with all probationary conditions outlined in a Commerce Department deal with the company that lifted a denial order banning the export of U.S. parts and components.

 

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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 Trump campaign confidante Roger Stone was arrested following an indictment by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller:

“Roger Stone has been indicted for covering up his engagements with Wikileaks, an organization that U.S. intelligence officials and the Senate Intelligence Committee have publicly designated as a hostile intelligence service, regarding the public release of emails stolen by the Russian government. It is clear from this indictment that those contacts happened at least with the full knowledge of, and appear to have been encouraged by, the highest levels of the Trump campaign.   

“Roger Stone and Donald Trump have known each other for nearly forty years. Mr. Stone played a key role in recruiting Paul Manafort to run the Trump campaign, and he publicly claimed on several occasions to remain in regular contact with then-candidate Trump throughout the 2016 presidential race, even after he formally departed the Trump campaign. It appears Stone also lied to Congress and tampered with witnesses in order to obstruct these investigations into the Trump campaign – yet another example of senior Trump officials concealing the truth about their Russia-related contacts during the 2016 election. 

“I expect that we will learn more about Mr. Stone’s campaign role, his communications regarding Wikileaks, and who else knew about Stone’s efforts. It remains essential that the Special Counsel be permitted to finish this work without any political interference.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement after the Director of National Intelligence concluded that Russia and other foreign countries used social media and additional means of influence to target Americans during the 2018 midterm elections:

“As the Director of National Intelligence reminds us, the Russians did not go away after the 2016 election. Now that the Russian playbook is out in the open, we’re going to see more and more adversaries trying to take advantage of the openness of our society to sow division and attempt to manipulate Americans. Congress has to step up and enact some much-needed guardrails on social media, and companies need to work with us so that we can update our laws to better protect against attacks on our democracy.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on the Treasury Department’s announcement that it intends to delist companies owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska amid restructuring and corporate governance changes:

“Today’s announcement, which comes as a result of negotiated changes to the En+ corporate structure, does not change the fact that Mr. Deripaska, his employees, and his companies work at Vladimir Putin’s behest and operate as de facto representatives of the Russian government - a government that has occupied and intimidated its neighbors, sought to disrupt free and fair elections, violated nuclear treaties, and continued to wage influence campaigns to undermine western democracies, including our own.  While the Treasury Department has made great strides in reducing Mr. Deripaska’s ownership state in En+ and making beneficial changes to the corporate governance, this deal will require constant monitoring to ensure that neither Mr. Deripaska nor the Russian government violate the terms of the agreement. The addition of Victor Boyarkin, one of Mr. Deripaska’s key lieutenants, to the sanctions list will help counter some of Russia’s malign influence efforts, and is a welcome step.  We will continue monitoring these sanctions’ effects, and to hold accountable those who would violate them.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, third-party experts released two independent analyses of social media tactics used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in their attempts to influence U.S. political discourse. The reports are the first comprehensive analyses of their kind conducted by entities other than social media companies themselves, and are based in part on data provided by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).

The reports, titled “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency” and “The IRA and Political Polarization in the United States, 2015-2017,” were authored by New Knowledge, and University of Oxford and Graphika, respectively. 

Statement from Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC):

“Increasingly, we’ve seen how social media platforms intended to foster open dialogues can be used by hostile foreign actors seeking to manipulate and subvert public opinion. This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions. Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped. As we work to address these threats, these reports are proof positive that one of the most important things we can do is increase information sharing between the social media companies who can identify disinformation campaigns and the third-party experts who can analyze them.”

Statement from Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA):

“These reports demonstrate the extent to which the Russians exploited the fault lines of our society to divide Americans in an attempt to undermine and manipulate our democracy. These attacks against our country were much more comprehensive, calculating and widespread than previously revealed. This should stand as a wake up call to us all that none of us are immune from this threat, and it is time to get serious in addressing this challenge.  That is going to require some much-needed and long-overdue guardrails when it comes to social media.  I hope these reports will spur legislative action in the Congress and provide additional clarity to the American public about Russia’s assault on our democracy.”

 

Background: 

The third-party reports released today are based in part on data provided by the Committee under its Technical Advisory Group, whose members serve to provide substantive technical and expert advice on topics of importance to ongoing Committee activity and oversight. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions presented within are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Senate Intelligence Committee or its Membership.

Separate from the Technical Advisory Group, the Committee is conducting an ongoing investigation into the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. As part of its investigation, the Committee has held several open hearings on the use of social media by foreign influence campaigns, including recent hearings with third-party experts in August 2018 and social media company officials in September 2018. The Committee will release its own report on social media with its findings as an installment of its investigation. 

 

To read New Knowledge’s report, “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency,” click here

To read University of Oxford and Graphika’s report, “The IRA and Political Polarization in the United States, 2015-2017,” click here.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced legislation to modernize our antiquated security clearance system, reduce the background investigation backlog, and ensure the government has the trusted workforce necessary to perform its national security and public safety missions. Earlier this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) added the government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Process to their High-Risk List of federal areas in need of either broad-based transformation or specific reform to prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

“The current process for granting security clearances to government personnel and contractors is in dire need of reform,” said Sen. Warner. “In light of new and emerging threats, this bill reflects the changes we need to make to this 70-year-old system to adjust to the increasing availability of data, new technologies, and a more mobile workforce so that we can maintain the pipeline of trusted professionals that the nation requires.”

“PSC and the contractor community owe Vice Chairman Warner thanks for his tenacious and persistent focus on modernizing and streamlining the federal government’s security clearance processes,” said David J. Berteau, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council. “The current backlog and wait times add risk to government missions, contract performance, and the ability of both the government and contractors to recruit and hire the talent we need. Enactment of the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act will reduce these negative impacts while maintaining integrity in the system and better protecting our national security.”

“We deeply appreciate Senator Warner’s leadership on critical security clearance reform. For our members to attract and retain technology talent, we must seriously reduce the clearance cycle time. This is crucial for our ability to serve the nation effectively,” said Bobbie Kilberg, CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. 

“While the security clearance backlog is slowly getting smaller, we need urgent steps to ensure the U.S. government and U.S. companies doing critical national security work can recruit, hire, and retain talented individuals to work on classified programs. AIA supports the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2018 as a positive step towards resolving the security clearance backlog and positioning us to employ the workforce essential to ensuring our security into the future," said Eric Fanning, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association.

The Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act would:

  • Hold the Executive Branch accountable for addressing the immediate crisis of the background investigation backlog and provide a plan for consolidating the National Background Investigation Bureau at the Department of Defense, as the Administration has committed to doing; 
  • Implement practical reforms so that we can design policies and timelines for clearances that reflect modern circumstances. Reforms must be implemented equally for all departments, and for personnel requiring a clearance, whether they are employed by the government or industry;
  • Strengthen oversight of the personnel vetting apparatus by codifying the Director of National Intelligence’s responsibilities as the Security Executive Agent; and
  • Promote innovation, including by analyzing how a determination of trust clearance can be tied to a person, not to an agency’s sponsorship.  The bill draws on provisions that were contained in the Intelligence Authorization Act unanimously reported out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 2018.

Sen. Warner has been a strong voice on security clearance reform, urging the White House to prioritize reforms to the clearance process. The Intelligence Authorization Act that was unanimously by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year contains similar provisions found in this bill.

For more information on this bill, click here. The full text can be found here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement following the Canadian government’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei:

“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. It has been clear for some time that Huawei, like ZTE, poses a threat to our national security. Now we know that Huawei, like ZTE, has violated U.S. sanctions law. It's my hope that the Trump Administration will hold Huawei fully accountable for breaking sanctions law, as it failed to do in the case of ZTE. 

“This is a reminder that we need to take seriously the risks of doing business with companies like Huawei and allowing them access to our markets. I continue to strongly urge our close ally Canada to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of its 5G infrastructure.” 

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies.

On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.

In September, Sen. Warner joined several colleagues to introduce the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act. The bipartisan bill would enforce full compliance by ZTE—a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws – with all probationary conditions outlined in a Commerce Department deal with the company that lifted a denial order banning the export of U.S. parts and components.

 

###

WASHINGTON – In a letter to President Donald Trump, Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Mark Warner (D-Va.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, expressed their serious concerns regarding the Administration’s expressed intention to pull the United States out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.  

“While we understand the challenges of getting Russia to reverse its violation of the INF Treaty, the Administration’s sudden decision to withdraw unilaterally is a political and geostrategic gift to Russia,” wrote the Senators. “It takes the focus away from Russia’s transgressions and malign behavior and instead feeds a narrative that the United States is willing to shred our commitments unilaterally without any strategic alternative.  Additionally, it allows Russia to expand the production and deployment of its intermediate range missile system, the 9M729, which will further menace Europe.  

The senators’ letter comes on the heels of a scheduled NATO Foreign Ministerial later this week, which presents the Trump administration with an opportunity to consult with European allies on the INF treaty and show the United States will not take unilateral steps to the detriment of European security and stability.  

“Moving forward, before taking steps to withdraw or suspend participation in the INF Treaty, we urge you and your administration to engage with Congress on the implications of this step for strategic stability and our relations with European and Asian allies,”concluded the Senators.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and below.

 

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

We write to you to express our serious concerns regarding your announced intention to pull the United States out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.  

 

Withdrawal from the INF Treaty, which has been a cornerstone of the European security architecture for over thirty years, was announced without any notice or consultations with the Senate, much less a path toward Senate advice and consent to the withdrawal.  This was despite multiple opportunities to explain the rationale for this decision, including a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on arms control and Russia held only a few weeks prior to your announcement.  In that hearing, senior officials from the Department of State and the Department of Defense provided no indication that a decision to withdraw was even imminent, nor that U.S. forces envisioned any military operational benefit from near-term withdrawal. 

 

We are concerned about Russia’s ongoing violation of the INF Treaty, and believe Russia must return to compliance and fulfil its obligations.  While we understand the challenges of getting Russia to reverse its violation of the INF Treaty, the Administration’s sudden decision to withdraw unilaterally is a political and geostrategic gift to Russia.  It takes the focus away from Russia’s transgressions and malign behavior and instead feeds a narrative that the United States is willing to shred our commitments unilaterally without any strategic alternative.  Additionally, it allows Russia to expand the production and deployment of its intermediate range missile system, the 9M729, which will further menace Europe.   

 

The United States withdrawal from the INF Treaty also threatens to exacerbate tension in relationships with our European allies, particularly those in NATO.    This decision, taken without coordination with foreign partners, once again shows an eagerness to take unnecessary unilateral actions over the objections of our closest allies to the serious detriment of European security and stability.  A spokesperson for EU High Representative Federica Mogherini condemned the U.S. withdrawal from INF noting “the world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary would bring even more instability.”  Other leaders from major European allies echoed these sentiments, expressing deep concern that in withdrawing from the INF Treaty the United States was moving toward an unconstrained nuclear arms race with Russia.

 

Given the lack of strategic forethought and planning apparent in the hasty decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty, we believe it is important for the U.S. government to re-emphasize the integral nature of effective arms control as a part of nuclear deterrence and strategic stability.   In fact, our nuclear defense planning and modernization programs are contingent on the arms control architecture the United States has diligently built over many decades.  The decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty suggests that you may take a similarly dangerous approach and renege on other key arms control agreements, such as New START, which would only serve to diminish international security further and potentially necessitate vast increases in nuclear spending.  We do not believe that the degradation of our arms control agreements that have provided strategic stability for decades serves U.S. security interests or those of our allies and partners.

 

Moving forward, before taking steps to withdraw or suspend participation in the INF Treaty, we urge you and your administration to engage with Congress on the implications of this step for strategic stability and our relations with European and Asian allies.  We also ask you to consider once again the importance of arms control within the context of U.S. and international security.

 

                                                                        Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement on Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen's guilty plea on charges of lying to the Intelligence Committee and other Congressional investigators about his involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project during the 2016 election:

“This is yet another example of the President's closest allies lying about their contacts with Russia. With each indictment and each guilty plea, we learn more about the President’s connections to Russia in the midst of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Special Counsel Mueller's investigation must continue — free from political interference by the President — until the truth is out, and Congress should pass legislation immediately to make sure that happens.” 

 

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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

 

###

 

 

 



[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), 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.”  

 

###

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.”

 

###

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,

 

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following joint statement on the Department of Justice’s indictment of seven Russian GRU officers for international hacking and disinformation operations:

“Today’s charges further highlight the illegal and aggressive tactics Russia uses to undermine international institutions and wage disinformation campaigns. In recent years, Russia has reportedly hacked or attempted to hack democratic elections, the Olympics, the power grid in Ukraine, and now the international organization that investigates the illegal use of chemical weapons. As Justice Department officials stated today, these actions are part of a criminal conspiracy and are wholly unacceptable. We commend the Department of Justice and our Dutch and British allies on the steps they’ve taken to hold Russia accountable. Collectively, we will continue to combat Russia’s illegal activities and make clear that this reckless and belligerent behavior will not be tolerated.”

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement on the White House’s National Cyber Strategy:

“There is not one sector of American society, public or private, that has escaped the threat posed by malicious cyber actors. The entertainment industry, federal, state and local governments, hospitals, and the banking sector – to name just a few examples – have all suffered from major cyber incursions in recent years. Given the scale and frequency of these attacks, and the urgency of the challenge, I have been calling for some time for a national cyber strategy to build resiliency and deter adversaries.

“The White House strategy document outlines a number of important and well-established cyber priorities. We need to focus on growing the cyber workforce, promoting more secure development and security across product lifecycle, establishing norms of responsible state behavior, leveraging federal procurement power to drive better security, and publicly attributing and punishing adversaries who violate those standards. The Administration must now move beyond vague policy proposals and into concrete action towards achieving those goals.”


###

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray expressing serious concerns about the implications of President Trump’s decision to declassify and disclose highly classified information related to the Special Counsel’s investigation and the involvement of the White House Counsel in the process. The Members also requested an immediate “Gang of Eight” briefing from the agency heads prior to any disclosure.

In the letter, the Members write: “The action [President Trump] has taken, to direct your agencies to selectively disclose classified information that he believes he can manipulate publicly to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the Special Counsel’s investigation, is a brazen abuse of power. Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice policies, as well as assurances you have provided to us.”

Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff and Warner previously wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Director Wray on June 5 and June 27, and to Director Coats on July 12. The full letter is below:

 
* * *
 
September 18, 2018
 
The Honorable Daniel Coats
Director
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, D.C.  20511
 
The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein
Deputy Attorney General of the United States
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C.  20530
 
The Honorable Christopher Wray
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C.  20535
 
Dear Director Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and Director Wray:
 
We write to express profound alarm at President Donald Trump’s decision on September 17, 2018 to intervene in an ongoing law enforcement investigation that may implicate the President himself or those around him. The action he has taken, to direct your agencies to selectively disclose classified information that he believes he can manipulate publicly to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the Special Counsel’s investigation, is a brazen abuse of power. Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice policies, as well as assurances you have provided to us. 
 
On June 5, 2018, we first wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Director Wray to express deep concern that the President and his legal team sought to abuse the President’s power to interfere with the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation and undermine the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation’s lawful and appropriate activities. We underscored that providing the White House and the President’s lawyers access to classified information and investigatory material of the utmost sensitivity – including information related to the Special Counsel’s investigation that implicates the President’s own campaign and associates – would grossly violate our system of checks and balances, fundamental norms, and long-standing, well-founded, and established procedure. Absent an indictment, moreover, the subjects of federal investigation should not be able to access law enforcement or related national security information for any reason. 
 
On June 27, 2018, we wrote again to memorialize the verbal assurance you provided us that DOJ and FBI would not provide the White House or any of the President’s attorneys with access to sensitive information briefed to a small group of designated Members. 
 
On July 12, 2018, we also wrote to Director Coats to express alarm that this information was being made more broadly available within the Congress, in direct contravention of your assurances. In this letter, we noted that during our meetings with all of you on these sensitive matters we discussed at great length the importance of protecting sources and methods and ongoing investigations. As you recall, all of the meetings’ attendees agreed that the information discussed was among the most sensitive type of information and should be protected accordingly. Director Coats’ July 13, 2018 written response to our letter, moreover, underscored his agreement that protecting sources and methods must be a top concern.
 
Pursuant to the President’s order, announced yesterday evening in a White House press statement, DOJ stated publicly that a declassification review process has been triggered, that DOJ and FBI are “already working with the Director of National Intelligence,” and that this review would be “conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House Counsel […].” The involvement of the White House Counsel, or any component of the White House, is highly improper and profoundly troubling. President Trump and the White House should not be given access to any sensitive law enforcement or national security information related to an ongoing federal investigation examining conduct by the President, his campaign, or his associates.
 
In light of the assurances you provided, we request an immediate briefing to the Gang of Eight from you  prior to any disclosure of the affected material by your agencies to anyone at the White House. Among other issues of concern, we will need you to clarify in person:
 
  • the exact review process that will be undertaken, including the White House’s role in and visibility into this process and the specific White House officials expected to be involved;
  • your agencies’ proposed redactions and plans to protect investigative equities and sources and methods, including efforts to mitigate harm that may result from these disclosures; and
  • how you intend to comply with statutes binding on the President and executive branch officers and employees, including the Privacy Act.
 
Your agencies’ review, and any communication with the White House on the substance of the material, should not proceed further until you have briefed the Gang of Eight in person.
 
Thank you for your immediate attention and we appreciate meeting as soon as possible.
 
Sincerely,
 
NANCY PELOSI
House Democratic Leader
CHUCK SCHUMER
Senate Democratic Leader
ADAM SCHIFF
Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee 
MARK WARNER
Vice Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, and agreed to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s investigation:

“Today’s admission of criminal guilt by Paul Manafort clearly demonstrates that the President’s 2016 campaign manager conducted illegal activity in conspiracy with Russian-backed entities and was beholden to Kremlin-linked officials. The guilty plea also underscores the seriousness of this investigation. The Special Counsel must be permitted to follow the facts wherever and however high they might lead, because in the United States of America no one is above the law. Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or otherwise interfere in this investigation would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement after President Trump signed an executive order “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election”: 

“In order to deter foreign interference in future elections, we must make it clear to Russia and other adversaries that interference is unacceptable, and will have painful consequences. 

“Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply cannot be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters. While the Administration has yet to share the full text, an executive order that inevitably leaves the President broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient.

“If we are going to actually deter Russia and others from interfering in our elections in the future, we need to spell out strong, clear consequences, without ambiguity. We remain woefully underprepared to secure the upcoming elections, and an executive order is simply no substitute for congressional action, such as the strong measures included in the bipartisan DETER Act.”

Sen. Warner is a co-sponsor of the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act.


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