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Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden Says He Wants To Ask James Comey About Loyalty Pledge

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign does not get in the way of the Senate quest for answers.

“I’m working on issues like following the money,” Wyden told All Things Considered host Kate Davidson on Wednesday. “… this topic speaks to people to the legitimacy of their government.”

Wyden, a Democrat, is Oregon’s senior senator. He sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which could hear from former FBI director James Comey, recently fired by President Donald Trump, as soon as next week, according to several news accounts.

"From an hour after he was fired, I said the most important thing was to get him to a public forum to tell the American people what the status of the investigation was at the time he was fired,” Wyden said. “Since then, of course, there have been other questions raised. I’m sure one of the first questions asked at a hearing would be, ‘Did the president ask you to make a loyalty pledge?’”

Wyden also weighed in on a free speech debate that erupted over two rallies planned for Portland in June.

After last week’s attack on a light rail train, Mayor Ted Wheeler asked the federal government to stop two scheduled right-wing rallies.

Wyden said the debate over the limits of free speech runs through the nation’s history.

“The First Amendment cuts both ways, that’s why it’s so special,” he said. “Now the challenge is going to be for the officials in our community to find ways to deal with this that don’t, in effect, set aside the Constitution.”

At the same time, Wyden called on organizers of the rallies to let common sense and decency prevail while the community is still grieving.

To hear the entire conversation, use the audio player at the top of this story.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kate Davidson is OPB’s business and economics reporter. Before moving to Oregon, she was a regular contributor to "Marketplace", a reporter at Michigan Radio focused on economic change in the industrial Midwest and a producer at NPR.