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Sat Feb 25, 2017, 06:52 PM

Wyden, cheered by Oregonians to probe a Trump-Russia connection, must keep up the fight: Editorial

By The Oregonian Editorial Board
on February 25, 2017 at 3:00 PM

It was the second questioner at Sen. Ron Wyden's recent town hall meeting in Oregon City that hit the nerve. A woman stood amid at least 1,000 people packed into the city's high school gymnasium and said:

"The elephant in the room is the (Trump) administration's current relationship with the Russians. This feels like the most dangerous time we've been in for decades." Amid a roar of approval, she asked: "What can you do to get information declassified?"

( video of town hall: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/02/russia_trump_taxes_ron_wyden_town_hall.html )

Wyden, a Democrat who ended a statewide 11-town-hall-meeting tour in Portland Saturday, paced about the basketball court in sneakers as he went straight to the elephant. In addressing it, he unmasked himself as something of a zealot - no surprise to Oregonians who've watched his persistent questioning of officials on Capitol Hill about the federal collection of metadata on unwitting citizens, cybersecurity in a world of terrorism, the erosion of personal privacy from technologies that include drones. He pledged to the Oregon City crowd, as he did in other town halls: "I am a committed to making sure this is not swept under the rug." And then he characteristically went large in shouting above the cheers, "This goes right to the heart of the legitimacy of the government."


Enter Wyden. He unsuccessfully introduced legislation last year that would require presidents to release tax returns, which he characterized for the Oregon City audience as representing "the lowest ethical bar." And he has since hammered the message home that Trump has a lot of explaining to do. More than most, he is the voice associated with holding Trump to account.

Wyden is right to consider the U.S.-Russia relationship of peculiar pertinence to Oregon. It's what his bosses, the public, want him to focus upon. And, in a vital display of democracy, his bosses have shown up in great number to say so. "It's just extraordinary," Wyden said. "I have never seen anything like this before."


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