U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, spoke with reporters Thursday afternoon, addressing national issues reverberating from overseas to Virginia farms.
Warner began his phone call with an explanation of his concerns with the killing of the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qasem Soleimani. Warner condemned Solemani’s actions as a general, calling him an “enemy of the United States” and said he “had blood on his hands.”
Though he said Soleimani “will not be missed,” Warner said he did have questions about the thinking that went into ordering the strike on the Iranian general — including the Trump administration’s failure to consult Congress beforehand.
“Let me make clear, taking out Soleimani was an enormously significant act,” Warner said. “One of the most significant foreign policy actions our country has taken in decades.”
In the past, significant actions have been preceded by speaking with Congress and with the United States’ allies, Warner said.
The lack of communication before the strike has led to a backlash not only domestically but internationally as well. Warner pointed to the popular uprisings in Lebanon and Iraq that had been focusing their ire on Iran but have refocused to turn their frustrations toward the United States instead.
Domestic frustrations with the president’s foreign policy are simmering beneath the surface of an ongoing impeachment stalemate. Speaker of the House,Nancy Pelosi, D-California, corralled her party to approve two articles of impeachment but has not submitted them to the Senate. Pelosi has said she is waiting to hear the rules the Senate plans to follow during the trial of the president.
“I think it has been appropriate for her to hear from the Senate Republican leader what the rules of the trial will be,” Warner said, because the rules will likely affect which managers she would choose.
Warner said he thinks the president will “get a fair shake” during the Senate trial and said that he deserves a fair trial. However, Warner said he wants the Senate to make sure that all the available witnesses and documents are a part of the trial. If the president has a fair trial, Warner said, then the case against him should include any witnesses or documents that can clear his name — or condemn his actions.
“At the end of the day, when the trial starts I will take an oath to be an impartial juror,” Warner said. “And I will reserve judgment about the charges about the president until I hear all the facts.”
While impeachment has dominated headlines, in the background Congress has been chipping away at approving a new trade deal that would improve relations between the United States’ neighboring countries. The United States Mexico Canada Agreement is set to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and was approved by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week.
Warner said the new agreement will be good news for Virginian farmers and workers as it will open up markets for goods and level the playing field for workers by giving the United States the power to enforce fair labor standards in Mexico.
“I’ve always said American workers can compete against anyone, but there’s got to be a level playing field,” he said. “In this new agreement, there is a level playing field for American workers.”