Speaking to a welcoming crowd at Summit High School, Sen. Ron Wyden addressed several hundred constituents Monday evening– a town hall noticeably smaller and more subdued than Rep. Greg Walden's last week.
Wyden's answers were received warmly and with a round of applause with one attendee evening apologizing for the noticeably smaller turnout. Still, Wyden praised the recent civic engagement he has seen and commented that recent turnouts have been "Unlike he has ever seen in his decades on Capitol Hill."
Questions ranged from protecting public lands, to the Syrian missile attack, health care and to President Trump's refusal to release his taxes. "For a president, releasing tax returns, is the lowest ethical bar," said Wyden, "...I will insist that this president, like the others, actually clear it."He later stated that perhaps the resistance stemmed from a comment made by Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr. implying that Russians made up a large section of their Trump Corp's assets
and that perhaps releasing tax returns would showcase those investors, and therefore ties with Russia.
On Syria, Wyden said he agreed with Trump's decision to engage in a missile strike and felt that as a president, he had the power to make those decisions – without congress. Though he commented,"One strike is not a long term policy." Wyden was clear that any further involvement in the Syrian civil war must be approved by congress. "My hope is this administration will see the idea of a sensible, long-term foreign policy is to use all the tools in the toolbox."
When asked about North Korea and if the Joints Chiefs of Staff could overrule Trump, Wyden's outlook seem optimistic noting recent weekend events that saw tensions relieving – namely the failed missile test and Trump's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R McMaster stating his doubts regarding a strike against the closed off country.
With federal lands, he pledged his support in fending off the selling public lands in Oregon, noting it was a mistake that could not be undone. He explained his decision in confirming Rep. Ryan Zinke as secretary of the interior, saying he believed he was genuine and a good fit for the role – regardless of policy differences.
Circling back to Russia, Wyden repeated his enthusiasm for the publics interest in politics and stated, "As your guy in Washington....I will not let this [Russian interference] get swept under the rug."
Wyden will continue his tour east of the Cascades in the following days.