Ron Wyden spoke with citizens on Saturday, April 28 at Five Oaks Middle School in Beaverton.

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden blasted the recently passed Republican tax cuts as offering only 'bread crumbs' to the middle class. Is James Comey a liar? Not according to the United State's senior senator for Oregon, Ron Wyden.

"I've disagreed with him plenty on policy issues," Wyden said in an exclusive interview. "I have never found him to lie."

Wyden hasn't always seen eye to eye with Comey — the former director of the FBI who was fired by President Donald Trump in 2017 — who has published a book describing the president as a bully with the leadership style of a mob boss.

"I didn't agree with the way the Clinton emails were handled," Wyden continued. "He has been in the past for weakening strong encryption, which I think would be an enormous mistake."

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - A crowd of several hundred attended a town hall meeting with Senator Ron Wyden on Saturday, April 28 in Beaverton. The comments came at the conclusion of the 808th town hall-style meeting Wyden has held since he was first elected as a Democrat to the Senate in 1996. The open forum for citizens lured several hundred on Saturday, April 28 to Five Oaks Middle School on Northwest 173rd Avenue in Beaverton.

The wide-ranging discussion had Wyden musing about the possibility of a Trump Tower in North Korea — given an apparent diplomatic breakthrough with Pyongyang — and blasting the recently-passed Republican tax cuts.

"We're all going to pay for it, because the people who said they were big fiscal hawks and budget disciplinarians borrowed $2 trillion dollars," Wyden said of the tax cuts. "There were promises made to middle class people, and those promises were broken."

As for the détente between North and South Korea, Wyden warned that the Kim dynasty has made a habit of breaking their promises, but pledged to "root for our country" in support of the denuclearization effort.

"The Kim family has a long history of getting the full meal deal," the 68-year-old noted, "keeping their nuclear weapons, getting foreign investment, relaxing sanctions and you might even throw in a Trump Tower and a Burgerville."

Members of the crowd asked Wyden a number of questions during the 90-minute meeting, including whether he supports Citizen Initiative 43, which seeks to ban assault weapons in Oregon. The senator responded that he does not usually endorse petitions and thinks the term "assault weapon" is so broad it could apply to virtually any modified gun.

"The focus ought to be on military-style assault weapons," Wyden argued. "(They're) not something somebody's going to shoot a deer with, and if you did there isn't going to be much left."

Another audience member asked if he would support lowering the voting age to 16. Wyden answered by polling the crowd, saying that it appeared the "undecideds" had the most votes.

Among those seated were several student organizers who have led walkouts and protests against the horrific epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence in American schools. Wyden praised the youthful activists, saying he wished he could put them in an Xerox machine and print out another 25,000 copies.

"There are people who call us brainwashed," said Ellie Younger, a 17-year-old attending Southridge High School in Beaverton, who helped organized the March for Our Lives last month. "It's so nice to be listened to by older generations who take us seriously."

"There's a lot of hope and unison talk too, but I really think we should put that hope and unison into action," added 13-year-old Zoe Taaffe, who attends Hazelbrook Middle School in Tualatin.

Taaffe helped plan a walkout on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre that left 12 students and a teacher dead in 1999. She and her friends are sincerely concerned they will be gunned down while trying to learn.

"I wanted to lead a walkout because I didn't want this to happen at my school," Taaffe explained.

Wyden also shared some good news during the town hall, noting that Congress has funded the Children's Health Insurance Program for the next decade and is expanding Medicare to help treat more chronic medical conditions. PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Student organizers Ellie Younger (fourth from left) and Zoe Taaffe (far right) pose for a photo with Senator Ron Wyden during a town hall meeting at Five Oaks Middle School in Beaverton on Saturday, April 28.

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