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How Trump Jr.'s Meeting With Russian Lawyer Might Impact Russia Meddling Probes

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And for more on this we are joined now by Senator Ron Wyden. He's a Democrat from Oregon and a member of the Senate intelligence committee. Senator, welcome back to the program.

RON WYDEN: Thanks for having me again.

MARTIN: What do you make of this latest revelation?

WYDEN: Well, we don't know yet what was said at the meeting. But based on Donald Trump Jr.'s own admissions, it was at least an attempt at collusion. Now, last night, I said we've had two versions of the story already. The first, that it was about adoption, second, that Donald Trump Jr. didn't know much about it. But he understood that there was some damaging information.

And now, we were told last night from The New York Times, they alleged that they got an email. And they understood that this was coming from the Russian government. So I don't know whether we're going to get a fourth version of the story. But I want to just tell listeners why this matters. Russia directly attacked our democracy. What investigators are trying to figure out is did the Trump campaign participate in that attack. And we need an administration that puts our national security first.

MARTIN: So if you say - if the reporting bears out, and at the very least this was an attempt to collude, that is different than colluding. I mean, what would be the implications of attempting to collude?

WYDEN: Well, again, we don't know the whole story here. But what we know is that there are some serious legal questions when you obtain something of value. And certainly, this information - they were told it would be damaging to the Clinton campaign. This was something of value from a Russian where, apparently, there were close connections to the government. So there may be some serious legal implications here.

MARTIN: Will your committee call Donald Trump Jr. to testify?

WYDEN: I don't, under the rules, believe that you can get in to committee deliberations. But what is non-negotiable for me is making sure we talk to all of these people. In my view, this falls within the scope of the Senate intelligence committee's investigation. It comes in the wake of Donald Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin, in which Putin denied having interfered in the election.

I guess that's enough for Donald Trump. But I mean, he keeps saying nobody really knows. So he's taking Putin's word over the assessment of our own intelligence agencies. And I will tell your listeners, I understand what Putin gets out of this. But I don't understand what America gets out of this. And the president sure hasn't explained how America's going to benefit.

MARTIN: I'd like to switch gears now and ask you about health care...

WYDEN: Sure.

MARTIN: ...Because your Republican colleagues have revamped their bill to try to get the votes they need for this thing to pass. They say they're going to unveil it this week. If this doesn't pass - because previous attempts have failed - are Democrats prepared to work with Republicans to fix the problems with the existing health care law, the Affordable Care Act?

WYDEN: We have said from the very beginning - I've said it. Senator Schumer has said it, that if the Republicans drop this our-way-or-the-highway partisan strategy known as reconciliation, the answer is absolutely. And that is how the Senate best tackles big problems. I just had eight town hall meetings in Oregon. Five were in counties Donald Trump won. Three were in counties Hillary Clinton won. That's what the public wants. The public feels that this Mitch McConnell bill is a loser. People get hurt. Seniors, special needs kids, they get hurt. They say drop this stuff, then go on and work in a bipartisan way.

The first two things I would like to see us pursue in a bipartisan way is first, fixing the private insurance market. What the Trump administration's been doing is pouring gasoline on the fires of uncertainty in the insurance market. Start with fixing the private insurance market and the exchanges. Then, I think there are some bipartisan ways we can clamp down on prescription drug prices.

MARTIN: How do you get premiums down?

WYDEN: What you do is you go after the big cost drivers. I just mentioned one that's one of the fastest growing ones. And that's prescription - prescription drugs. And you use, frankly, marketplace principles. I'd like to see us lift the restrictions so that Medicare could bargain to hold down the cost of medicine. I introduced a bill called the SPIKE bill, which requires the drug companies to have to justify their rate increases. And I think we all have to go after the middleman - these pharmaceutical-benefit manager...

MARTIN: So.

WYDEN: ...Because we don't know what they put in their pocket and what they put in the consumer's pocket.

MARTIN: Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. Thanks so much for your time.

WYDEN: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.