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Transcript: Senator Mark Warner of Virginia on “Face the Nation,” September 17, 2023

The following is the transcript of an interview with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, broadcast on “Face the Nation” on September 17, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Virginia Democrat Mark Warner. He is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Great to have you here. I have to pick up where your Republican colleague just left off. Are Trump and Biden’s classified documents that were in their personal possession and not in controlled areas just as egregious?

SEN. MARK WARNER: Margaret, three things quickly. First, the administration took far too long to get us these documents. Second, Mike and I have a great working relationship. I believe, based on the documents I have seen, that there is a difference in terms of potential abuse arising from the Trump documents. And third, it’s one of the reasons why I have bipartisan legislation that would reform the entire classification process. We classify way too much, and frankly, we should have a process in place so that no president or vice president ever takes documents after leaving office. It’s sort of the lowest common fruit. We must pass this measure. We have some of that in the Intel authorization bill. I hope this becomes the law of the land so we can prevent this from happening in the future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said based on the documents you’ve seen, but you want to see more documents.

SEN. WARNER: We did it, actually, I’m about 98% satisfied at this point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: 98% satisfaction. There are a lot of other things we’re tracking right now on the national security front, including this possible prisoner swap with Iran to bring five Americans home. Are you comfortable with the job?

SEN. WARNER: I haven’t received the brief. The Senate Intelligence Committee has not received the file. We will receive it shortly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Were the staff not informed?

SEN. WARNER: I could say: I was not personally informed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You weren’t. All right.

SEN. WARNER: I think we have to assume that the policy of our country is always to try to bring back Americans who are being held hostage. It wasn’t just under Biden, it was Trump, it was Obama, Bush. I want to know what kind of constraints are being imposed, in this exchange, in relation to what has been reported, the $6 billion in South Korean payments to Iran that would be released. I want to hear that and get those details before we get into that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because you are concerned that money is fungible and that it can be used…

SEN. WARNER: Obviously, money is fungible. The administration said there are guardrails, I want to get a better description of those guardrails first.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have been very active in the field of artificial intelligence and we talked about it last January. Microsoft just announced a few days ago that China has a new capability to automatically generate images for use in influence operations aimed at impersonating American voters across the political spectrum. and create controversies along racial, economic and ideological lines. How much of a risk does this represent for our next elections?

SEN. WARNER: It’s a huge risk. And artificial intelligence. I have spent as much time on this issue, I think, as any other member of the Senate. And I’ve never spent anything where the more time I spend on certain purposes, the more confused I become in the whole economy around these big language models, which used to be the one that had the most data, that had the more computing power, would gain. This fundamentally changed after Facebook launched its so-called “LLaMA model” in the spring. We just had a major session hosted by frontman Schumer with kind of a who’s who in the room. And what concerns me is even the AI ​​leaders who say they want rules, safeguards. I’m afraid when you put words to paper, will these big tech companies support this? Because you saw that we on social media did nothing. As far as China is concerned, China is a major player in the field of AI, and I think we should start with where AI tools, whether they come from China or the country, could have the The most immediate effect is public confidence in our elections. , what Microsoft decided–

MARGARET BRENNAN: And if you’re going to legislate during elections –

SEN. WARNER: Hear me out on this. But the other area beyond elections is confidence in our public markets. These same tools could completely disrupt trust in our public markets using these same deepfake tools. So I think we should start by creating an alliance between the capitalists and the small democrats. We could at least put some safeguards in place next year with the election and concerns about our markets.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re not just worried about scaring the stock market, you know, we’re talking about misleading people before the election, Congress is not going to legislate before the election, Leader Schumer said that’s was the most important. difficult thing we have ever undertaken.

SEN. WARNER: Why the idea of ​​trying to solve everything, the bias questions, the whole question around deep fakes, the questions around what’s called hallucination, where you get answers that are completely unrelated with the question asked. But we should at least start by putting some safeguards in place regarding confidence in our public elections and confidence in our public markets. There, I think we can move forward before our elections. I think it will be bipartisan. Let’s start with this framing point. I think we can all agree that there could be huge disruptions in both of these areas. And that’s where I spend my time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You may have heard our CBS poll at the top of the show. And one of the data points I want to show you here is that when people compare their current finances to what they were before the pandemic, by two to one, they say they are worse, not better. And when they feel worse, they tell us they are voting for Donald Trump. How can President Biden convince these voters?

SEN. WARNER: Well, I think we’ve seen, based on President Biden’s actual record, record job growth again, post-COVID. We’ve seen major legislation, there’s now legislation on infrastructure as part of the so-called CHIPS bill and on the transition in our energy economy. And most of that is only about 10 cents on every dollar spent. So I think the positive effects of that will really continue to be felt.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do people in Virginia feel like you’re talking?

SEN. WARNER: Look, I think there’s a general feeling, oh my God, everyone seems to be at loggerheads here in Washington, when you know, the idea that we’re potentially going to have a government shutdown. Mike Turner and I work very closely together. But I think I would like the House leadership to spend a little more time on what would happen in the event of a government shutdown, which makes us look bad around the world. And frankly, in a state like mine in Virginia, where we have so many government workers and government contractors, that would be a disaster. And yet the House leadership’s attention is focused on impeachment, and proposing things that they know will never pass the Senate, in a bipartisan way. And I think that’s part of the underlying unease that voters feel.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you think we’re heading toward a government shutdown?

SEN. WARNER: I would like to say no, but we’re eight or nine days away. And we couldn’t even see the House pass the most basic defense appropriations bills. I hope and pray that President McCarthy says: Hey, I’m going to take down the far right. And I will mount a bipartisan effort with mainstream Democrats and Republicans to keep the government funded. I think it would get, again, 350 to 400 votes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, it’s good to have you here in person. We’ll come back in a moment.


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