Transcript: Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio on “Face the Nation,” Jan. 29, 2023
The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida airing Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let’s start on the news of the moment. I know the two of you were briefed by the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. Do you have any timeline in terms of when you will get visibility into the documents of classified material that both President Biden and President Trump had in their residences?
SEN. MARK WARNER: Margaret, unfortunately, no. And this committee has had a long bipartisan history of doing its job. And our job here is intelligence oversight. The Justice Department has had the Trump documents about six months, the Biden documents about three months, our job is not to figure out if somebody mishandled those, our job is to make sure there’s not an intelligence compromise. And while the Director of National Intelligence had been willing to brief us earlier, now that you’ve got the special counsel, the notion that we’re going to be left in limbo, and we can’t do our job, that just cannot stand. And every member of the committee who spoke yesterday and I wanted the director to hear this, regardless of party said, we are united in we have to find a way to do our job. That means we need these documents, we need that assessment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the intelligence community would say their hands are tied, because this is an ongoing active Justice Department investigation. So what would meet the level of- of addressing your concerns without compromising that?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Well, I don’t know how congressional oversight on the documents, actually knowing what they are, in any way impedes an investigation. These are probably materials we already have access to. We just don’t know which ones they are. And it’s not about being nosy. You know, here’s the bottom line: if in fact, those documents were very sensitive, materials were sensitive, and they pose a counterintelligence or national security threat to the United States, then the intelligence agencies are tasked with the job of coming up with ways to mitigate that. How can we judge whether their mitigation standards are appropriate, if we don’t have material to compare it against, and we can’t even make an assessment on whether they’ve properly risk assessed it? So we’re not interested in the timeline, the tick-tock, the who got what, who did that? Those are criminal justice matters, to the extent that that’s what it is. That’s not what we’re interested in. We deserve and have a right and a duty to review what the materials were so we can have a better understanding of not just, you know, what the agency is doing about it, but whether it’s sufficient.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Does the director even know what the materials were?
SEN. WARNER: Well, we got a bit of vagueness on that because again, I believe you want to make sure the intelligence professionals and not political appointees were making some of that that makes sense to me. But I would even think that if the- President Trump and President Biden would probably want to have this known if they say there’s no there there. Well, you know, there may still be violations on handling. But we got to tell the American people and our colleagues, because we’re the only ones who have access to this information, that there’s not been an intelligence compromise. And again, this notion that when there was a special prosecutor appointed, they’re not exactly the same circumstances. But remember, this committee spent years doing the investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 election, and there was a special prosecutor and Bob Mueller’s investigation going on simultaneously.
SEN. RUBIO: Let me tell you how absurd this is, there isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t some media report about what was found where, what some sort of characterization of the material in the press. I just saw one this morning again. So somehow, the only people who are not allowed to know what was in there are congressional oversight committees. But apparently, the media leaks out of the DOJ are unimpeded in terms of characterizing the nature of some of the materials that were found, plus whatever the individuals involved are telling the media. So it’s an untenable situation that I think has to be resolved.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, you know, there’s an argument that there’s a diminishing value to intelligence over time, some of it’s time sensitive. The idea that some of these documents go all the way back to when President Biden was a senator, does that suggest that there’s something more than a problem in the executive branch?
SEN. WARNER: Agreed. That’s why the notion of ‘We’re not going to give the Oversight Committee the ability to do its job until the special prosecutor somehow says it’s okay,’ doesn’t- doesn’t hold water. That’s not going to stand with all the members of Congress–
MARGARET BRENNAN: So do you want to see these 300 documents from Trump?
SEN. WARNER: I think we need to see- chances are, we have a right as not only members of the Intelligence Committee, but as part of the leadership to read virtually every classified document. We’re part of the so-called Gang of Eight. We may have seen these documents, we just need to know, are these the ones that were potentially mishandled, and that mishandling is not our responsibility, our responsibility is to make sure the intelligence and the security of the United States have been compromised. And you’re absolutely right that some of these may have been years old. So this idea that we’re not going to get that access just, again, we all agreed, and I think the director heard lot- loud and clear from all of us. It’s just not tenable. And it begs the bigger question and again, which Marco and I have agreed to jointly work on, that we got- we got a problem in terms of both classification levels, how senior elected officials, when they leave government how they handle documents. We’ve had too many examples of this. And again, I think we’ve got the bipartisan bona fides, to say, let’s put them in place on a going forward basis, a better process.
SEN. RUBIO: And let me just add on the age of the documents, it’s true, the information in and of itself may be dated and irrelevant at this point. But the- but having access to that information reveals how you gathered, whether it was a human source or–
SEN. WARNER: Sources and methods.
SEN. RUBIO: And so the- the- even though the information itself might no longer be very relevant, it does reveal how we collect information and thereby cost us those accesses and potentially cost someone you know, again, we don’t know what’s in the material, potentially put someone in harm’s way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you- you threatened to withhold some funding to some of the agencies yesterday.
SEN. RUBIO: Well, what I said is that, you know, I’m not in the threat business right now. But we certainly are- there are things we need to do as a committee every year to authorize the moving around of funds. I think the Director of National Intelligence and other heads of intelligence agencies are aware of that. You know, at some point, I’d prefer for them just to call us this morning or tomorrow or whenever and say, ‘Look, this is the arrangement that we think we can reach so that the overseers can get access to this.’ I’d prefer not to go down that road. But it’s one of the pieces of leverage we have as Congress. I’m not, we’re not going to sit here and just issue press releases all day.
SEN. WARNER: And one of the things that I wanted Director Haines to hear and I think she was in a bit of an untenable position yesterday, she had been willing to brief earlier before the special prosecutor. I wanted her to hear that this was not just Senator Rubio and I, this was all of the members of the committee, on both ends of the political spectrum, saying, we’ve got a job to do, we’re going to do it, we’re going to figure out- we’re not in the threat business. But we’re going to figure out a way to make sure that we get that access so that we can not only tell the American people, but we’ve got another 85 U.S. senators who are not on the Intelligence Committee, who look to us to get those assurances.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How much are your hands tied, though, in terms of this part of government and classified- classification really being over in the executive to a large extent? Like, what is it that you as lawmakers can do? Is it new regulation when it comes to transitions–
SEN. WARNER: The Director of National Intelligence is the individual that’s the chief officer for intelligence classification. I think, and there’s been a number of other members of the Senate, both parties have been working for years, on the notion that we over classify the number of things that we read in a SCIF that somehow then appear in the newspaper begs the question, it’s kind of been an issue that’s been bubbling for a long time–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Over classification.
SEN. WARNER: –I think this, I think this series of events, pushes it to the forefront. And again, we have the power to write legislation, which then executive agencies have to follow–
MARGARET BRENNAN: In terms of record keeping.
SEN. WARNER: In terms of record keeping. In terms, literally, at least guidance on classification issues. I mean, there has been, and again, this Director of National Intelligence, I’m going to give her credit, she has been at least acknowledging and long before this issue came up, said we need to work on this issue of declassification, over classification. Every director says it, and then it kind of gets pushed- pushed back, I think. One good thing that may come out of this is that we’re going to find a way to resolve this issue on a going forward basis.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it sounds like we found one area of bipartisan agreement already here that there needs to be some kind of legislation around classified materials–
SEN. WARNER: I actually think you’re gonna find a lot- on our committee –
SEN. RUBIO: On our committee–
SEN. WARNER: –you’re gonna find an awful lot more than one.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Where does this rank in terms of priority? Dealing with the classified crisis?
SEN. WARNER: Well the immediacy of it right now, and the notion and again, I would- I don’t know what President Trump and President Biden are thinking about this. But I would think they would like some recognition that these documents, hopefully and as Marco said, are not disclosing sources and methods, are not so current that there may be a- a violation of American national security. We just don’t know. So I think we need to get this resolved sooner than later. In terms of the specific case, the Trump and Biden documents, we’ve not really focused as much on the Pence documents. But who knows what additional shoes may fall.
SEN. RUBIO: Yeah, and I don’t want to speak for Mark. Obviously, the immediacy of this moment is big. But I think we- the- on the broader set of issues, we still have this reauthorization of [Section] 702, an important authority for our government. And then more broadly, I just think the world looks so different than it did when I started out in this committee. When I first got to the Senate, the principal focus of foreign policy and national security issues were counterterrorism. And those are still very important, but we’re now in a world increasingly revolves around great power competition: China, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and then some of the threats posed by Iran, North Korea and other rogue states. So whether our intelligence agencies have adjusted quickly enough to that new reality, and- and the- and the- obligations that poses I think, is from a big picture perspective, in my mind, one of the things we really have to spend time on.
SEN. WARNER: And the thing that I think we’re getting- our committee has got some- some record on. I mean, I personally believe the competition, technology competition, in particular, with China is the issue of our time. And remember, it was this committee that first spotted, pointed out, the problems with the Chinese telecommunications provider, Huawei, as a national security threat. And we built, frankly, even under President Trump, an approach to say we need to make sure that we get it out of our networks, and then convince our allies to do that. It was our committee, again, who first pointed out the challenges that, in the semiconductor industry, which we had dominated in this country–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Computer chips–
SEN. WARNER: In the- computer chips- in the 80s, and 90s, that we were falling behind, literally to the point that no cutting edge semiconductor chip was even being made in America. And we built them, the legislation around the so-called CHIPS bill. I think there are other technology domains: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced energy, synthetic biology, where we need to do the similar kind of bipartisan deep dives, to say, how do we make sure America and our friends stay competitive with a China that is extraordinarily aggressive in these fields and making the kind of investments, frankly, that we used to make post-Sputnik.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, and I want to ask you about that, because President Biden is reportedly close to issuing an executive order when it comes to restrictions on U.S. investments in- in China. But there’s concern about risking further escalation. What’s your view on how far that action should go? And where do you all pick up in terms of lawmakers?
SEN. RUBIO: Well, I think there’s two things. The first is the Chinese have found a way to use capitalism against us. As- as- and what I mean by that is the ability to attract investment into entities that are deeply linked to the state. That military commercial fusion that exists in China is a concept that we don’t have in this country. We have contractors that do defense work, but there is no distinction in China between advancements in technology, biomedicine, whatever it might be, and the interest of the state. And then the second is obviously the access to our capital markets. And the third is the risk posed, we don’t up to this point, have not had levels of transparency in terms of auditing and the like, on these investments of- the- into these companies. What- when you invest in these companies in U.S. exchanges, you don’t have nearly as much information about the- the bookkeeping of those companies as you would an American company or European company, because they’ve refused to comply with those restrictions. So there’s systemic risk to our investments, and then there’s also the geopolitical reality that American capital flows are helping to fund activities that are ultimately designed to undermine our national security. So it’s a 21st century challenge that we really have to put our arms around.
SEN. WARNER: And again, this is something- I think and I fall under this category, beginning of the 20th century, I was a big believer that the more you bring China into the world order, the more things will all be copacetic. We were just wrong on that. The Communist Party, under President Xi’s leadership, and my beef is, to be clear, with the Communist Party, it’s not with the Chinese people or the Chinese diaspora wherever it is in the world, but they basically changed the rules of the road. They made clear in Chinese law that every company in China’s ultimate responsibility is to the Communist Party, not to their customers, not to their shareholders. We’ve seen at- at the level of 500 billion dollars a year of intellectual property theft. We have actually in a bipartisan way- over the- didn’t get a lot of attention- over the last seven years, have been out and we’ve done 20 classified briefings for industry sector, after industry sector, about these risks. Frankly, pre-COVID, we kind of got nods, but you know, some pushback because a lot of companies are making–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because companies just wanted access to the market regardless of the risk–
SEN. WARNER: Were making a lot of- were making a lot of money off Chinese tech companies.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly. Exactly.
SEN. WARNER: Now, post-COVID, I think there is an awakening that this is a real challenge and I think the good news is that not only is there awakening, you know, in America, but a lot of our allies around the world are seeing this threat as well. So I think, you know, we need to build this kind of international coalition, because the technology- who wins these technology domains, I think will win the race in the 21st century.
SEN. RUBIO: I- I think those–
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you want restrictions on biotech, battery technology, semiconductors, artificial intelligence?
SEN. WARNER: I want to have an approach that says we need to look at foreign technology investments, foreign technology development, regardless of the country, if it poses a national security threat, and have some place that can evaluate this. We kind of do this ad hoc at this point. You know, we- we- years back, there was a Russian software company, Kaspersky. Again, Marco was one of the first ones who said, ‘My gosh, we got to get this off the GSA acquisition list.’ We worked together on Huawei, I’m sure we’re going to talk about TikTok. We need a frame to systemically look at this. And frankly, if it goes just beyond the so-called CFIUS legislation about inbound or outbound investment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s a committee that looks at national security risks.
SEN. RUBIO: But understanding that for- you know, 20 years ago, everybody thought capitalism was going to change China. And we woke up to realization that capitalism didn’t change China, China changed capitalism. And they’ve used it to their advantage and to our disadvantage. And not simply from an old Soviet perspective to take us on from a geopolitical or military perspective, they’ve done so from a technological and industrial perspective. And so you have seen the largest theft and transfer of intellectual property in the history of humanity occur over the last 15 years, some of it funded by American taxpayers. That has to stop. It’s undermining our national security, and giving them an unfair advantage and these gains that they’re making.
SEN. WARNER: And let me just echo- you know- I’m old enough to remember- you know, the challenges with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was an ideological threat, and a military threat. It really was never a first class, economic threat. China, we have ideological differences. They have a growing military, but domain after domain, they are a- right with us in certain areas, even ahead of us, in this kind of technology, on much. And I agree with Marco again, the ability to kind of manipulate our system, the kind of combination of command and control with certain tenets of capitalism. They have an authoritarian capitalism that for awhile worked pretty well. I don’t think it works as well as our long-term system. But we have to inform all of our industry and frankly, all our allies about this challenge.
MARGARET BRENNAN: They have the biggest hacking ability program than any other nation. Intelligence community says they’re the world leader in surveillance, in censorship. How restricted should their ability to access this market be?
SEN. RUBIO: Let me put it to you this way, I think it is nearly impossible for any Chinese company to comply with both Chinese law and our expectations in this country. Chinese law is very clear. If you’re a Chinese company, and we ask you for your data, we ask you for your information, we ask you for what you have, or we ask you to do something, you either do it, or you won’t be around.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You want to ban Chinese companies from investing in America?
SEN. RUBIO: Well, I think there’s certain invest- investments where there’s no way we can protect the country from doing it. You- we’re gonna go back to TikTok, people say, you know, ‘Why do we care about what some 16-year-olds are doing?’ I don’t think the threat is that some 16-year-old likes these cool videos that are on there, which I admit are- are attractive, obviously, because the artificial intelligence makes it so. It’s the massive amount of data that they’re collecting, not on one 16-year-old, not on a thousand 16 year-olds, but on millions and millions of Americans that give them commercial advantages, potentially the advantage of being able to shape American public opinion in a time of crisis, that- that just give them an extraordinary insights that allow them to steer the conversation in this country in any direction they want. And- and these are long-term threats that are extraordinary to the country in- in- in the 21st century.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But this has been talked about for three years now.
SEN. WARNER: But- but let’s–
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Trump administration tried to ban it, the Biden administration still hasn’t pulled the trigger on what to do with TikTok–
SEN. WARNER: Let’s- let’s look- let me build on what Marco just said. And I think again, maybe we were all a little bit slow to recognize the challenge here. It is both a data collection entity. Now it may not collect as much data as some of our American platforms. But it is very much, at the end of the day, still responsible to the Communist Party. But think about this, Margaret. 138 million users in America use TikTok on a regular basis, average about 90 minutes a day. I’m sure your network would love to have 138 million Americans spending 90 minutes a day on your network. And I’m not saying that the TikTok or Communist Party is driving the- the videos you see. But the- the fact is, the algorithms that determine what you see on TikTok, is determined out of Beijing by China. And the proof is, if you look at what Chinese kids are seeing on their version of TikTok, which emphasizes science and engineering, versus what our kids and kids around the world are seeing, it is dramatically different. So both from a data collection, and from frankly, a propaganda tool, it is of huge concern. How we go at this systemically is what- you know- we’re both maybe, at slightly different ways to get there. But I think making sure we educate our fellow Americans and the rest of our colleagues on this challenge is really important.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But- so, CBS spoke to TikTok about their plans and the company said they had come to an agreement over the summer in terms of how they could structure things to separate and create a wall to protect against some of these concerns. They said they can continue operating in the U.S. by offering data protections. Do you both know what they are offering and- you’re laughing, so I’m guessing this isn’t sufficient?
SEN. RUBIO: I- I don’t know what the data protections are. And there’s a technical aspect to it. But it’s beyond the data protections. It’s the ability to- somebody- just let me give you an example, right? What is the Chinese narrative on Taiwan, that it’s part of China, that this is a fake claim, and so forth. And they understand that in this republic, in order for the United States to live up to its commitments to Taiwan, you need to have public support for that, right? Because of the potential high costs to pay for the U.S. to keep its commitments with regards to Taiwan. So if they dedicate years and years to influencing the American audiences through the use of TikTok: the data, and their ability to use artificial intelligence and their algorithms to guide it, to undermine our narrative, and to increase their narrative; we may very well reach a point where there is a Taiwan contingency, and millions and millions of Americans have already bought into years and years of influence from the Chinese. Now- in this country, people have a right to say those things. But to- but we were- think about how fired up everybody was over the fact that Russian trolls and bots were buying ads on Facebook during 2016. This goes exponentially greater than that, in terms of its level of influence and [unintelligible].
MARGARET BRENNAN: So Senator Hawley wants to ban it. Is that sufficient?
SEN. RUBIO: I [CROSSTALK] I filed a bill to ban it last year, we’re going to refile it again this year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are?
SEN. RUBIO: It’s bipartisan, bicameral. Some people are not willing to go that far, but I certainly think it’s the right place to be. But in the end, we got to do something about it, whether it’s a ban or something else. I honestly don’t know, I- as I sit here with you today, I don’t know how our national security interests and the operation of TikTok in this country, as long as it’s owned by ByteDance, can coexist.
SEN. WARNER: And I–
MARGARET BRENNAN: You want to force a sale?
SEN. RUBIO: I’ve been wanting to do that for three years.
SEN. WARNER: I’m looking at– listen Marco and I have the same goals. I may have a slightly different approach. I’m going to sit down and see how we can work through this. But I’ve been hearing it, I’ve been trying to give the Biden administration, now more than two years, to see, is there a technical solution here? And I’d be willing to take a look at it. The Biden administration has not announced that. And I think the problem is, this is technically extraordinarily hard to do. TikTok has repeatedly said, ‘Oh, Americans’ data, not being seen in China.’ And repeatedly, we’ve seen Chinese engineers having access to American data. So how you fully wall that off, but bigger problem to me is, if you are actually still writing the algorithms in Beijing that determine what videos you see, how and if those algorithms on a regular basis get updated, how you put any kind of wall in there, even if there is an American company in between, that will give us the that kind of protection so that we don’t have this kind of manipulation, for example, on the issue like Taiwan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it’s already been downloaded 200 million times. And you could host content outside the U.S. How do you make that- you can make the argument here, but how do you convince a 16-year-old to delete the app and get rid of the phone? I mean, is- isn’t this very hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube?
SEN. WARNER: This- this- Absolutely. But this is one of the reasons why. And again, I think Congress has been horribly unsuccessful at this. I’ve been saying for years, and we may not fully agree on this. But on all these social media companies, a lot of good, but there is a dark underbelly. And the fact that the United States, historically, we would have set some rules of the road for these- for these entities, in terms of standards, in terms of protocols, in terms of appropriate behavior, in terms of questions like- even like basic privacy. But our failure to do so has mean, we’ve ceded that leadership, often out of time to the Europeans, or to individual states. And I think that’s, frankly, a loss of American leadership. And, as you said, putting the genie back in the bottle. Whether it’s- whether it’s TikTok, or even privacy on our own platforms, is a real challenge. I think Americans want us to do that. And we got to sort through a way to do it. And I think continued failure of Congress to act just isn’t a good enough response.
SEN. RUBIO: Every technological advance has come with benefits and- and costs. You know, we never had car accidents or drunk drivers until we had automobiles. And the same is true now with technology. So we’re grappling with that. I think the- the- the difference is the speed of innovation today moves so fast. And it moves much faster than the ability of this republic and this elected branches to respond to it. And it requires a level of expertise that oftentimes public policymakers struggle to keep up with because frankly, these industries are changing faster, by the time you’re- you think you understand that it’s become something else.
SEN. WARNER: And if- and if this- this is why, what’s so concern me is, you know, for most of my lifetime, we led virtually in every innovation area. We’ve suddenly woke up with 5G wireless communication where China was setting the standards. We woke up in an industry like semiconductor chips, and woke up. We used to own this and we’ve lost it. We’ve seen now the solar industry where it’s all migrated to China. If- think about this notion around quantum computing, the ability to break any kind of encryption, or artificial intelligence. We’ve all seen, you know, reports about how some of these new applications that are really kind of maybe revolution how- how we live. If those come- if those technologies are driven by an authoritarian regime out of China, you know, I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum in America, that’s not good news or- for free people anywhere in the world.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Aren’t you- aren’t you gonna run headlong into business interests here in the United States? I mean, just look at Elon Musk. The U.S. government relies on his company, SpaceX. He has a majority in car company Tesla. He has control over the internet connection in Ukraine via Starlink. And he now owns Twitter. You said there’s no one in the world more dependent on the Communist Party than Elon Musk.
SEN. WARNER: This is my concern, I think, I think–
MARGARET BRENNAN: You can’t stop that private investment, can you?
SEN. WARNER: I think- I think- I have a huge respect for what Elon Musk did with SpaceX. And I, you know, early on in my congressional career, I wanted to make sure that we gave commercial operators and satellites a chance. My concern with his ownership of Twitter is not whether he puts Donald Trump back on Twitter or not. My concern is, if you look at Mr. Musk’s public statements, they’re almost all supportive of the oversight regime in China, and they’re almost all derogatory about the oversight regime in America and in Europe. And part of that, I think, whether it’s knowingly or not, is where does he get all his batteries that go into all these Teslas? They are built in China, mostly, frankly, with a lot of Uyghur labor and Senator Rubio has been the leader on trying to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of the Uyghur people is prohibited. And I’ve yet to hear from Mr. Musk, how that kind of contradiction about comments about the CCP in China, and what he’s dealing with Uyghur labor, how that’s not going to influence some of his decisions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But he’s not breaking any laws yet, so how do you stop that?
SEN. RUBIO: Well, so here’s the point I would make if there’s evidence, for example, that SpaceX has been transferring technology to the Chinese government because they’ve been leveraged–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you suspect that’s the case?
SEN. RUBIO: I haven’t seen evidence of that. But- but that’s something we have to be very vigilant about. But let’s say that were to come out that SpaceX is somehow transferring technology to China, in exchange for helping Tesla be successful. That would be a big problem, and that’s something we would have to confront head on. But you’re absolutely right about- it goes beyond Elon Musk, I mean, business interests have invested both in access to the Chinese market, but also in the means of production and it’s allowed them in many cases, historically, to be deputized, and that includes the finance and investment world to come to Washington and argue for things that are against the national interest, but in favor of their short and midterm profit line for their investors for their company. So that is a new challenge that we’re confronting, because we’ve never had another market with- that had that level of leverage over American companies, and that level of- therefore that level of influence over American government.
SEN. WARNER: And I do though think one good piece of news here is that, and I’m not going to call them out by name or sector, but there are a number of companies and- and even whole sectors that didn’t even want to hear the classified information from the intelligence community by about why- you got to be careful about, I’m not saying don’t do business with these Chinese companies, but here you ought to be on guard about the level of intellectual property theft and trying to get at you- even through joint ventures or potential sidebar investments, getting access to technology and other innovation. Post-COVID, where I think you saw our dependence upon Chinese supply chain, which I think long-term in a host of areas, pharmaceuticals for one. We got to change. Post-COVID, I do think there is an awakening to that. But we got to keep the pressure on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Rubio, as a conservative, you have to feel a little bit uncomfortable with talking about government intervention in private industry. But that has been the U.S. solution, in some ways to the semiconductor issues, you were raising, this subsidy to try to bring chipmaking back to America.
SEN. RUBIO: Well, I would argue this, that I don’t believe in government intervention in the private sector, but I do believe in government intervention on national security–
MARGARET BRENNAN: These are subsidies.
SEN. RUBIO: And so capitalism- so capitalism is going to give you the most efficient outcome. But sometimes, what do you do when the most efficient outcome is not in our national interest? Because it’s more efficient to buy rare earth minerals from the Chinese, it’s more efficient to have things built over there in many cases, but is it in our national interest to depend on them for 80-something percent of the active ingredients in our pharmaceuticals? I could argue it is not. And in those instances where the market efficient outcome is not in our national interest, it is my opinion that we default to the national interest because without our national interest or our national security, the other things won’t matter. We are not a market, we’re a nation. And the market exists to serve the nation, not the nation to serve the market. And so there are industries in which we will need to take a step because the U.S. has a vested national security interest in ensuring we have a domestic or allied capability. It’s why we have an airplane industry in the United States. It’s why we have a shipbuilding industry in the United States. I think that should extend to technology and agriculture in certain sectors.
SEN. WARNER: And that Marc- what Marco just said is absolutely right. You know, I- I’ll match my capitalism bona fides with anyone. I’m proud of my business activities, and I think our system, a lot of flaws in it but still has moved more people out of poverty than any other system. But the point that kind of a 20th century context that said, of course, we want to have- build our fighter pilots- planes here. And we want to build our aircraft carriers in places like Virginia. That was traditional national security. But when national security means supply chain around pharmaceuticals, or who can create the new energy sources, going to power, you know, electric vehicles everywhere. And I come back to things, we made the decision that wireless communications, if it’s driven on Chinese networks, that’s a national security risk. And luckily, the rest of the world is now agreeing with us on that. I come back to these other domains, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, advanced energy across a host of areas. I don’t think it is- I think the idea that the United States and our friends are going to have to make the kind of investments to match some of the subsidies that are taking place in the balance of the world, particularly in China. Again, I think that’s a national security issue, as much as simply a who’s going to win in one particular industry area.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, am I hearing you say then that the $50 billion that taxpayers just pumped into the CHIPS bill and semiconductors, that that’s just the start? That you think other legislation is coming like that?
SEN. WARNER: I’m saying- what I’m saying is we- one of the reasons that it took us $52 billion, and that was for both semiconductors and next generation wireless, was because candidly, I think we went asleep at the switch for a long time and we had to suddenly play catch up, because we’d seen China advance. And we had also seen Taiwan, our friend, and one of the reasons why we need to be supportive, when, frankly, every advanced chip, in all of our jets, satellites and seacraft are made in Taiwan. We were chasing after the fact. If we can get ahead on- on some of these key areas, I don’t think we will need that kind of investment. But we are going to need to make sure that we’ve got a plan in place to make sure that these new technology domains don’t all end up in China or other authoritarian regimes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it sounds like you want to put more teeth into national security review commissions like CFIUS.
SEN. WARNER: No, I think national security is a very different framework. You know, ships and guns and tanks: traditional national security. Artificial intelligence, telecommunications network, food production, I think- and I think Marco would agree, we’re seeing that in a national security context as well.
SEN. RUBIO: There’s- the way I view it is the following. And that is that we need to identify what are the critical industries and capacities that our country needs to be able to have without being leveraged or, or having to go through the Chinese to get it? And then we need to figure out what government’s role is. Now I want to make sure that we’re not turning this into a lobbyist trough, where every industry comes here and gets money. And we have to make sure that we’re going to invest in research, that that research is protected, that there’s sufficient safeguards. Because what’s the point of putting billions of dollars to innovate something they’re going to steal anyway? We’re just giving him billions of dollars more. But I do think, again, this is not about government running or owning these companies. But there are capacities that we need, you know, Boeing- half of Boeing’s revenue comes from the government, because we made a decision wisely that, yeah, we’re going to build F-35s in America. We’re not going to rely on the Chinese or someone else to make it for us, because we will be denied that capability in a time of conflict. I just think that that needs to extend to areas of industrial capacity that we haven’t traditionally identified as a national security issue, but are in the 21st century.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you get that through a divided Congress?
SEN. WARNER: I actually think if there’s one issue that still is extraordinarily bipartisan, it is a growing concern about China, and a recognition that in this technology race, second place is not good enough for us.
SEN. RUBIO: Yeah. And I would just say that, I think it is- there’s a unifying desire to do things to address this problem, because compared to five or 10 years ago, there’s- that’s a new consensus. I think we still struggle with what to do about it beyond the symbolic, what to do about it beyond the heated rhetoric and do it in a way that’s balanced and smart. You know, I mean, it’s important for us to not focus on things that aren’t nearly as important as some other things are. But look, it’s a new world, and- and- and the world has changed very fast. And I think everyone’s grappling with that new reality. Now, you know coming up with solutions for it is what we’ve really been focused on.
SEN. WARNER: And one of the reasons- one of the reasons why what we’ve already done in a bipartisan way, things like building out broadband, which I think is national security, or making these CHIPS investments, we got to make sure that the actual implementation is done correctly. Too often, I think Congress is about passing a bill and then forgetting about it. Where the rubber really hits the road is- are these programs going to be implemented in a fair and transparent and effective way and, frankly, our record on that is a little more mixed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve said that the Biden Administration has too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to cyber.
SEN. WARNER: I think we’ve gone from virtually no cooks in the kitchen under Trump to a lot of cooks in the kitchen. But if we look, I think, writ large, I’d rather have too many cooks because this is an issue that- it’s at national security. One of the areas that’s going to be my focus this year is going to be health care and cybersecurity. Biggest area- most valuable area on ransomware is health care, personal information. It is the most valuable. And still in too much of our health care system, cybersecurity is an afterthought. How do you bolt that on? Especially if you had an MRI machine that’s got another 10 years of life, or you’ve got all these new health care apps. How do you build cybersecurity in from day one? These are, these are tough, and I’d like to have as many smart folks at the table as possible to sort it through.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m being told we’re out of time, but I want to make sure that I ask you. You know, China erupted, Beijing erupted with anger when the former Speaker visited Taiwan. Speaker McCarthy is expected to visit that island soon. Do you think there’s values and- a value to lawmakers going and making that statement by visiting?
SEN. RUBIO: I do, and I don’t- I think the first value is we shouldn’t allow the Chinese Communist Party to dictate where members of the U.S. Congress can travel and who they can visit–
MARGARET BRENNAN: But doesn’t that just provoke?
SEN. RUBIO: Well, they’re the ones that get provoked by it. I mean, I don’t think the purpose of the visit is to be provocative. I think the purpose is stated commitment this country has made to Taiwan security, and to the continued support of their aspirations to live free of the yoke of Beijing. They don’t want to turn into the next Hong Kong. And so I think American policymakers have a right to express that by traveling and visiting with those leaders. We can’t allow the Chinese government to dictate where American leaders can travel. So I don’t think Speaker Pelosi or- or McCarthy would travel there for purposes of provoking the Chinese. But I can’t control what provokes the Chinese. And- and I think they need to have a little bit more respect for our system in which the president can’t tell the Speaker of either party, where to travel or where to go.
SEN. WARNER: I think Speaker McCarthy has the same right that Speaker Pelosi did. And I think the challenge is how we maintain that support for Taiwan, but at the same time, recognize that there are many places where it is in America, the world’s interest, that we find ways to work with China. And that’s the challenge here. But at the same time recognizing in these fields, particularly around economic competition and technology competition, they’re playing with a very different set of rules. And not to have some collaboration, but frankly, in domain after domain, to try to dominate. And that’s not something I think we and, frankly, our friends around the world, and there are many, many folks who are looking for strong American leadership here. I think we have that ability to rebuild a set of alliances that will be critical going forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are we going to see a bipartisan trip to Taiwan?
SEN. WARNER: Everything’s on the schedule.
SEN. RUBIO: Probably wouldn’t announce it ahead of time just in case.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I’m coming with you, so. But I do want to thank both of you for sitting down together. We actually haven’t had a bipartisan interview like this in about three years. So to see a Democrat and Republican sit down and talk about issues of substance is great to see. So thank you for doing it.
SEN. RUBIO: Well I guess we’ll see you three years from now.
SEN. WARNER: We’ll see more of this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No. We want you back –
SEN. WARNER: This committee has got – this committee’s got a record on doing that. We’re gonna continue it.
SEN. RUBIO: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you both.
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