Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley said Friday actions by President Donald Trump, including pressure he put on former FBI Director James Comey and a tweet about the possibility of tapes of their conversation, showed the president was trying to "derail an investigation," The Hill reported Saturday.
Merkley, however, stopped short of saying Trump's actions constituted obstruction of justice.
"It certainly constituted pressure, and I'll leave it to the lawyers to say whether it was obstruction of justice. He has now many times attempted to slow down and block and discount this investigation," Merkley said.
"This is absolutely a president trying to derail an investigation," he added.
Trump's tweet regarding whether or not he had taped his conversations with Comey at the White House has been called a "bluff" by Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz. However, critics, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have suggested it may fall into the category of intimidation, to which Merkley agreed.
"Oh absolutely, it looks like an attempt at intimidation," Merkley said. "If you don't have tapes and you say that, you're obviously trying to persuade someone not to testify, and that wasn't the only time he's done that."
Merkley said it represented a pattern of the president.
"[Trump] pressured [Comey] when he was in the office," Merkley continued. "He's pressured other individuals. Certainly Dan Coats, and so forth. We see case after case after case of a president obsessed with Russia and wanting to suppress the conversation."
Merkley also maintained the Senate and House Intelligence Committees should hold open hearings for testimony over the issue because "the American people have a right to what's going on with the things that are unclassified, about real conversations in the White House over these issues."
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