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Burr, Warner Vow To Be Solemn Stewards If Impeachment Reaches Senate

Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr
Kara Lynne Wiley

Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia made a public appearance together during a talk at Wake Forest University, offering insights from their positions on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The bipartisan appearance comes less than four months after the committee's report on election security detailed attempts by Russian operatives to hack into the country's voting infrastructure.

Republican Sen. Burr says the experience of that work may reflect how the Senate will handle investigative material should the House decide to move forward with impeachment.

"We've gone through two years of a Russian investigation. And until you read our report you really don't know what we're going to say," he says. "That's intentional. It's intentional because we want to protect the integrity of the committee we've been asked to be in charge of." 

But he says the bar will be high for removing the president from office.

"I've heard a lot of people say, 'Well, this president says outrageous things,'" he said. "There were some outrageous things that were released before the last election. You might remember his conversation with Billy Bush. Well, that didn't raise to the threshold that people thought he was unqualified to be president."

Sen. Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee, says he's bothered that some in Congress have already taken a public position on the outcome of the proceedings before the Senate has even had a chance to consider the evidence.

"We need to take a deep breath and take a step back and recognize we have a Constitutional responsibility," he says. "This is as serious as it gets in our form of government."

Burr and Warner also discussed issues such as social media threats to Democracy and combatting interference in our elections from foreign governments in 2020.

Burr says when Congress became aware of social media being used to create societal chaos during the 2016 campaign, there wasn't an easy solution.

"There was no legislative remedy for this because they're under a First Amendment issue," he says.

The problem dates back to the early days of widespread internet use when there was reluctance to get involved in controlling content, Warner says.

"I think we became totally infatuated with... these platforms and we became way over the top techno-optimists," he says. 

The bipartisan nature of the evening was evident in the crowd, which included U.S. Rep. Tedd Budd (R-13) and N.C. Rep. Derwin Montgomery (D-72).

Burr is a Wake Forest alumnus and donated his Congressional papers to the university last year. Warner was the commencement speaker at the school's 2006 graduation.

Kami Chavis, an associate provost and director of the law school's criminal justice program, served as moderator.

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