* Served as governor of Virginia from 2002-2006
* Has been a U.S. senator from Virginia since 2009
* Supports the Iran Nuclear Deal
* Repeatedly & falsely accused President Trump of colluding with Russia
* Has praised the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations
* Views America as a nation infested with “systemic racism”
* Has a net worth of at least $215 million
Mark Warner was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 15, 1954, and was subsequently raised in Illinois and Connecticut. He attributes the early interest that he developed in politics, to the influence of an eighth-grade teacher he had during the tumultuous late 1960s. After graduating from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1977, Warner earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1980.
Following the completion of his legal studies, Warner accepted a fundraising job with the Democratic National Committee. In this role, he worked with, and became a political ally of, future Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.
From 1993 to 1995, Warner was chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party.
In 1996, Warner challenged longtime Virginia senator John Warner, a moderate Republican. Despite outspending his opponent by a margin of 5–1 in the final weeks of the election, Mark Warner lost to the incumbent by more than 100,000 votes.
Up to that point in his life, Warner had enjoyed a lucrative business career in which he had amassed an estimated net worth of at least $100 million. According to his official online biography: “Warner spent 20 years as a successful technology and business leader in Virginia before entering public office. An early investor in the cellular telephone business, he co-founded the company that became Nextel and invested in hundreds of start-up technology companies that created tens of thousands of jobs.”
In 2001, Warner was elected Virginia governor when he defeated Republican Mark Earley by a margin of 52% to 47%. In that campaign, Warner outraised his opponent by a whopping margin of $19.4 million to $10.7 million.
When Warner served as governor of Virginia from 2002–2006, his politics were a mixture of both conservative and liberal-left values. According to The New York Times, he emphasized “the need to modernize for a global economy” by reducing tax rates on income while increasing those on the sale of cigarettes and other commodities. He also opposed same-sex marriage and generally supported capital punishment and abortion. In 2006, The Times characterized Warner as an “unapologetic pro-business Democrat [who] rejects the reflexive anti-corporatism that permeates much of the populist fervor online.” With his tenure as governor limited to just one term due to Virginia state constitutional provisions, Warner left office with an approval rating of more than 70 percent. Moreover, his net worth hasd grown to nearly $200 million.
In August 2008, Warner addressed the Democratic National Convention on behalf of the party’s presidential nominee, Barack Obama: “This race is all about the future. That’s why we must elect Barack Obama as our next president. Because the race for the future will be won when old partisanship gives way to new ideas, when we put solutions over stalemates, and when hope replaces fear.”
Later that year, Warner secured fully 64% of the vote to defeat Republican Jim Gilmore in a race for one of Virginia’s two U.S. Senate seats. Warner also outraised his opponent during the campaign by a margin of $13.6 million to $2.7 million. He officially took office on January 3, 2009.
During Warner’s first Senate term, his politics drifted noticeably leftward. For example, he voted:
Also in 2013, Warner reversed his position in favor of same-sex marriage, calling it “the fair and right thing to do.”
“On balance, I have determined this international agreement is an improvement over the status quo. It will prevent Iran from having the means to develop a nuclear weapon for a long time. It will lengthen Iran’s potential break-out time, and will not preclude the U.S. and our international partners from responding with all means at our disposal should there be a need to do so. It will provide much better insight into Iran’s nuclear activities, and it furthers the national security interests of the United States and our allies.”
By April 2015, Warner was one of numerous congressional Democrats to support former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidential race of 2016. Mrs. Clinton later selected Virginia Senator Tim Kaine — Warner’s former Lieutenant Governor — as her running mate.
During an appearance with leftwing host Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC in November 2015, Warner accused Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of espousing views about Muslims and refugees that would inevitably promote “domestic radicalization” among his supporters:
“I think these are extraordinarily irresponsible comments [by Trump]. One of the things that we have been, for the most part in this country, very lucky that we have not seen domestic radicalization.… But there’s also the challenge of the lone wolf, somebody could be sitting in that basement and getting radicalized. To hear these comments from Mr. Trump without any kind of factual basis and really playing to the worst fears and prejudices, that could actually lead to, I think, activities of somebody sitting in one of those basements saying if that’s America, I’m going to strike out against it. God willing, that won’t happen, but I think he and some of these other candidates need to tone that rhetoric down.”
In March 2017, Warner — who was then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — claimed that covert and illegal Russian interference had helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election:
“We know about the hacking, and selective leaks, but what really concerns me as a former tech guy is at least some reports — and we’ve got to get to the bottom of this — that there were upwards of a thousand internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia, in effect taking over a series of computers which are then called botnets, that can then generate news down to specific areas.
“It’s been reported to me, and we’ve got to find this out, whether they were able to affect specific areas in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, where you would not have been receiving off of whoever your vendor might have been, Trump versus Clinton, during the waning days of the election, but instead, ‘Clinton is sick’, or ‘Clinton is taking money from whoever for some source’…fake news.
“An outside foreign adversary effectively sought to hi-jack the most critical democratic process, the election of a President, and in that process, decided to [favor] one candidate over another.”
The month prior, Warner had stated that the Senate Intelligence Committee might decide to investigate the recently resigned Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn “or any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.”
Warner continued to advance the unsubstantiated Trump-Russia collusion narrative shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. “We have a commitment to get appropriate access to the Comey memos,” Warner said that June. “I would have thought we would have been further along, but I would never have expected the administration to fire Jim Comey. You can’t make this stuff up,” he added. Warner also indicated that the Senate Intelligence Committee was seeking to obtain more information about alleged Russian election interference with the presidential election in 21 separate states: “I do not see how Americans are made safer when they do not know which state elections systems Russia tried to hack.”
After Trump tweeted criticisms of the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian collusion claims – a probe that had begun in May 2017 — Warner rebuked the president again in December 2017. “This president has been obsessed with this investigation,” he stated, “always saying there’s nothing there, but each week, another shoe drops, where we see more evidence of continuing outreach from Russians and some response from the Trump campaign and Trump individuals.”
In February 2018, Fox News reported that Warner “had extensive contact last year with a lobbyist [Adam Waldman] for a Russian oligarch who was offering Warner access to former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele.” “We have so much to discuss u [sic] need to be careful but we can help our country,” Warner texted Waldman on one occasion. He also told the lobbyist in a text message that he would “rather not have a paper trail” of his communications.
During an appearance on CNN in March 2019, Warner again insisted that there was “lots of evidence” that President Trump had colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In October 2016, Warner praised the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), saying: “Your effort to protect and defend civil liberties are essential in ensuring preservation of the values and principles that we all, as Americans, hold dear.”
In September 2018, Warner wrote a letter of support to CAIR on the occasion of the organization’s 24th anniversary. “I commend all those who work with your organization to help defend civil liberties, strengthen the dialogue between faith communities and improve the lives of others,” he said.
On October 1, 2018, The Washington Post published an op-ed in which Warner expressed his regret for not having voted to ban assault weapons five years earlier. “While I was far from the deciding vote, I have nevertheless wrestled with that ‘no’ vote ever since,” the senator stated. Citing recent tragedies like the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he wrote: “Americans of all backgrounds can and should refuse to accept periodic mass shootings as the new normal.” Warner also used the opportunity to distance himdelf from the NRA:
“At the time, the National Rifle Association described me as a ‘valuable ally for gun owners and sportsmen.’ While the NRA may have moved toward the extreme in the years since, I still believe in the Second Amendment. But like other parts of our Constitution, the Second Amendment isn’t absolute. For example, the law has long held that certain guns such as fully automatic rifles and accessories such as suppressors fall into a class of weapons requiring stricter oversight and regulation than your everyday hunting rifle.”
At a campaign event for Democrat congressional candidate Leslie Cockburn in November 2018, Warner declared: “I don’t believe modern American capitalism is working for enough people, and we need to shake things up.”
In February 2019, an image from a 1984 school yearbook surfaced in which Ralph Northam, who in 2019 was the Governor of Virginia, wore “blackface.” Warner condemned the 35-year-old photo as a “shocking and deeply offensive” image that reinforced “Virginia’s long and painful history of racism and violence toward African Americans.” He declined, however, to call for Northam’s resignation.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, Warner told MSNBC:
“I have no evidence and no indication that the W.H.O. [World Health Organization] was in any way in cahoots with the Chinese government. We did know that China was fairly restrictive in terms of scientific access. Our scientists weren’t invited in. Other international scientists weren’t invited in. The only major organization that in a major way was invited in was the W.H.O. But as somebody who followed this pretty darn closely, I had no indication at all that somehow W.H.O. was holding back information [regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic]. If that proves to be the case, I’d like to see that information, but I have no evidence of that prior to this inquiry from the president.”
After George Floyd’s infamous death at the hands of a white police officer in May 2020, Warner posted a video message titled “Black Lives Matter, in which he called for an end to the “inequality of opportunity” and the “systemic racism” allegedly plaguing the United States and its police departments. Demanding “criminal justice reform” and “economic justice” on behalf of nonwhites, the senator blamed President Trump for “further dividing us” and for employing “excessive force” in dealing with the “peaceful protestors” who had taken to the nation’s streets in the wake of Floyd’s death. Warner concluded his message by lamenting that “even in 2020,” “too many … black and brown Americans” could not get an “equal shot” at justice and fair treatment. “It’s my job, and all of our job, to bring that kind of systemic racism to an end, and to make sure that we really live in a country where there is equal justice for all,” said the senator.
Several days later, Warner joined over 30 Senate Democrats in introducing the Justice in Policing Act, whose aim was to “[end] police brutality and [change] the culture of law enforcement departments by holding police accountable in court for misconduct, increasing transparency through better data collection, and improving police practices and training.”
Warner endorsed Joe Biden for president in April 2020, referring to the former senator and vice president as “the best person to unite our country.” “As President,” added the senator, “Joe Biden is going to be someone who can rally us around our shared American values and our common goals: goals like ensuring access to quality health care for all Americans, tackling the threat of climate change, and giving our kids a quality education no matter their zip code.”
In September 2021, Warner praised former President George W. Bush for having likened the large group of Trump supporters who had unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol building in a January 6, 2021 protest, to foreign terrorists. Specifically, Bush had said: “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. [But] there is disdainful pluralism in their disdain for human life. In their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit.” Said Warner in response to those remarks: “I think President Bush said it more eloquently than, frankly, I or most everybody else who have been calling out against the insurrectionists on January 6th, so I commend him for his comments, I commend him as someone who was president during 9/11 for President Bush to have the courage to call out this similarity.”
A year later, during an appearance on CBS television in September 2022, Warner indirectly claimed that the Trump Republicans who had unlawfully entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, posed a greater threat to America than Islamic terrorists:
“I remember, as most Americans do, where they were on 9/11. I was in the middle of a political campaign and suddenly, the differences with my opponent seem[ed] very small in comparison and our country came together. And in many ways, we defeated the terrorists because of the resilience of the American public [and] because of our intelligence community, and we are safer, better prepared. The stunning thing to me is, here we are 20 years later, and the attack on the symbol of our democracy was not coming from terrorists, but it came from literally insurgents attacking the Capitol on January 6th. So I believe we are stronger. I believe our intelligence community has performed remarkably. I think the threat of terror has diminished. I think we still have new challenges in terms of nation-state challenges, Russia in longer-term, a technology competition with China. But I do worry about some of the activity in this country where the election deniers, the insurgency that took place on January 6th, that is something I hope we could see that same kind of unity of spirit.”
Warner believes that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are largely responsible for what he views as potentially catastrophic “climate change.” “Climate change is one of the largest threats to our health, economy, and national security,” says Warner’s Senate website. “Sen. Warner has worked in the Senate to address this growing danger, supporting legislation like the Clean Economy Act, which sets a 2050 goal for net-zero carbon emissions, and has broad support from labor, environmental, and public health groups.”
The same website emphasizes Warner’s stiff opposition to offshore oil drilling: “Communities up and down Virginia’s coast have made clear that offshore drilling poses a threat to their communities. When the Trump administration announced their offshore drilling plan, Sen. Warner rushed to bring together his colleagues from both sides of the aisle to oppose any new drilling. Drilling off Virginia’s eastern shore would be disruptive to the fragile natural ecosystem…. Sen. Warner will continue to stand up against expanded drilling proposals in the Senate …”
As matters of principle, Warner believes that:
According to Yahoo! Finance, as of February 2023 Warner was the fourth wealthiest member of Congress, with an estimated net worth of $215 million.