Sen. Mark Warner declined to say Sunday whether allegations that President Donald Trump has attempted to influence the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s relationship with Russia could, if proved true, qualify as an obstruction of justice, but he said “it would be very, very troubling.”
“I went to law school, but I’m not a practicing attorney,” Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’ll leave that for much better attorneys than I. But clearly, it would be very, very troubling if the president of the United States is interfering in investigations that … affect, potentially, the president and his closest associates.”
Former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired last month, is scheduled to testify in an open hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Trump has acknowledged that he fired him at least in part because of the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government’s suspected attempts to interfere in the election last year through cyberattacks.
Warner said he plans to ask Comey, as well as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, whether Trump pressured them to downplay the Russia investigation, as has been reported in news outlets. Also on Sunday, Warner told John Dickerson, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” that he wants to hear from Comey “what kind of pressure appropriate, inappropriate, how many conversations he had with the president about this topic, did some of these conversations take place even before the president was sworn in?”
According to multiple news reports, Comey is expected to testify that Trump asked him to stop the bureau’s investigation into his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, similarly told Dickerson on Sunday that she is “eager” to question Comey about his interactions with Trump, including whether the former FBI director had told the president that he was not the subject of the bureau’s investigation, as Trump has claimed repeatedly.
Asked on CNN Sunday whether he has seen any evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, Warner said, “There is a lot of smoke,” but “we have no smoking gun at this point.”