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Sen. Mark Warner: Evidence against Trump ‘overwhelmingly compelling’

House Democrats on Thursday zeroed in on the argument that former President Trump wanted rioters to invade the U.S. Capitol. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, one of the jurors in the trial, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss his views on how the trial has gone thus far.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we turn now to one of the jurors in this trial. He is Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

    Senator Warner, thank you very much for joining us again.

    So, tell us, what do you think the strong elements and maybe the weaker elements have been in the presentation by the House managers?

  • Sen. Mark Warner:

    Well, I think the House managers made a very compelling case. And I wish every American would spend a couple of hours, whether they were supporters of Biden or supporters of Mr. Trump, and watch the presentation.

    Yesterday was very emotional, kind of reliving January 6. I was on the floor that day. We saw the mobs trashing the Capitol, seven people dead, 150 law enforcement officers hurt. Today was — I didn't think it would reach the same emotional pitch, but, in many ways, it did.

    The idea that somehow this would have happened without Donald Trump just makes no sense to me, the kind of "but for" argument, but for Donald Trump calling this mob together, but for him inciting them, urging them to go to the Capitol, his failure then to call them off, since this is a man who definitely knows how to use Twitter, and instead being supportive of this crowd, and then showing no remorse even as the tragedy and the fact that he was actually putting his own vice president in harm's away.

    Regardless of how people end up voting, I don't think there are many of my Republican colleagues who in their heart don't know that Donald Trump was responsible for what happened on January 6. And what I am hoping is that many of them will think beyond the next two weeks, the next six months or even the next election cycle in two years, and think, how do they want to be judged by history?

    There was an analogy made on one of the shows yesterday that this is, in some way, equivalent to what happened with Joe McCarthy, the anti-communist red baiter in the early '50s, when he was riding high. And then the Senate, I think, came to its senses. And those who stood by McCarthy were forever — had their reputations forever tarnished.

    What Donald Trump has done makes what Joe McCarthy did in the early '50s look like child's play. This is exponentially worse, poses a long-term threat to our democracy, has — I think one of the concerns I have, as somebody sitting as chair of the Intel Committee, the amount of damage this has done to our reputation abroad.

    And I just hope that my Republican colleagues will think about that and ponder that. And, again, I think the House made a very compelling case. And those who are going to hide behind a legalistic argument, such as the constitutionality or due process, it is pretty flimsy, and it may be an excuse, but it's not something I think in their hearts they actually believe.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator, so you are saying that you think most of your Republican colleagues are going to be voting based on what is good for their own reelection the next time, assuming they're running?

  • Mark Warner:

    I'm saying it is too early to say.

    I don't — I know there are some on the Republican side who are all in with Trump, all in with these anti-government extremists. I'm not sure. They have pinned their political future, I think very crassly, to that kind of America that I don't think, frankly, represents the Republican Party.

    They are Trumpistas. They are not Republicans.

    But I think there are an awful lot of men and women that I work with consistently — I'm very proud of the fact that every bill I have ever worked on in this job, I have had a bipartisan partner. I'm proud of what we have done on the Senate Intelligence Committee, bipartisan.

    These are good American patriots. But they have got to be having some really challenging times over the next 24, 48, 72 hours, until we vote, because I am not sure that any of them could look me in the eye or look you in the eye and really say Donald Trump did not incite that crowd to come and bring violence upon the United States Capitol in a way that not only caused death and bodily harm, but destroyed something that represents more than any of us who work there, the notion of our democracy.

    And those images that are still being used by China and Russia to diminish our democracy, those images are not going away.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator, it sounds like you have made up your mind. You do plan to vote to convict; is that right?

  • Mark Warner:

    Again, I'm going to ask — I'm going to listen Mr. Trump's attorneys. I have some pretty firm views, obviously.

    But I can't ask my Republicans colleagues to listen to the House managers and then make their final decision until they hear from the opposition. But I don't know what Mr. Trump's defense could be that will change my mind or change what I saw or lived through myself or have seen as chair of the Intelligence Committee, in terms of how these images are being used against our national interests all around the world at this point.

    But to be kind of honest to my — the same kind of oath I ask them to take, which is to be — to listen to both sides and then reach a verdict, but the evidence is overwhelmingly compelling, in my mind, at this point.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Very quick, in just a few seconds, Senator, how closely do you think your constituents in the state of Virginia are following this? How much attention are they paying?

  • Mark Warner:

    Probably not very much.

    But I think this is — this is for the historical record. I do think that we will be better served if Virginians, regardless of who they supported, were watching this, and they all would reach their own independent judgment, because I think anyone that would look at a couple hours of this testimony, I will trust them to probably come to the same conclusion that I have.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, we appreciate it. Thank you.

  • Mark Warner:

    Thank you, Judy.

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