Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, acknowledged that answering questions may be "difficult or uncomfortable," but urged intelligence officials who have been reportedly urged by Donald Trump to push back on the investigation into Trump's Russia ties to "consider all of our obligations to the American people."
Unraveling the web of ties between Donald Trump and his closest associates to Russian officials is a complicated task, but the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee has once again lucidly described the gravity of the probe, and urged those at the center of it to put their country first.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner's opening statement at the Senate Intelligence Committee's first public hearing on Trump and Russia in March perfectly summarized the potential consequences of the investigation.
On Wednesday, two officials Trump reportedly urged to push back against the FBI's probe into his Russian ties — Daniel Coats, director of national intelligence, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency — are publicly testifying.
In his opening statement, Warner described the importance of their testimony and urged them to put their country ahead of their roles in the administration.
WARNER: If any of this is true, it would be an appalling and improper use of our intelligence professionals. An act, if true, that could erode the public's trust in our intelligence institutions. The IC, as i've grown to know over the last seven and a half years i've been on this committee prides itself appropriately on its fierce independence.
Any attempts by the White House or even the president himself to exploit this community as a tool for political purposes is deeply, deeply troubling.
I respect all of your service to the nation. I understand that answering some of the questions the panel will pose today may be difficult or uncomfortable, given your positions in the administration. But this issue is of such great importance, the stakes are so high, I hope you will also consider all of our obligations to the American people to make sure that they get the answers they deserve to so many questions that are being asked.
Warner is establishing an important reputation as a chief explainer of the stakes of the investigation into Trump's Russia ties.
For our country's sake, let us hope that all involve heed his urgings.