It's been a spectacularly strange 24 hours for the American presidency. And at the center of it is Oregon's senior U.S. senator, Ron Wyden.
In a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, Wyden pushed FBI Director James Comey for answers about what his agency is doing to investigate president-elect Donald Trump's connections to Russia—a topic that later in the day became even more of bombshell than it already was.
Within hours after the hearing new information emerged in the form of a leaked memo detailing alleged connections between Trump and Russian officials seeking to influence and possibly blackmail him.
At issue is a 35-page report the New York Times says was originally commissioned by GOP opponents of Trump's.
The document, which CNN first reported Tuesday and BuzzFeed then published in its entirety, was apparently prepared by a retired British intelligence official.
"Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years," the memo claims. "Aim, endorse by Putin has been to encourage splits and divisions in the western alliance."
In Tuesday's hearing, Wyden wanted to know what Comey was going to do about the Russian connection. He demanded the FBI director say whether his agency had investigated earlier allegations.
Here's video of the grilling:
Here's how the Times described the exchange:
Mr. Wyden, trying to draw Mr. Comey out on information he may have heard during a classified briefing, asked if the F.B.I. had investigated the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Mr. Comey demurred, saying he could not discuss any investigations that might or might not be underway. Mr. Wyden kept pressing, asking Mr. Comey to provide a written answer to the question before Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 because he feared there would be no declassification of the information once Mr. Trump took office.
Comey, of course, was more forthcoming in the final weeks of the presidential election, when he went public with the news that his agency had re-opened its investigation into Clinton's emails after uncovering new information in a probe of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-N.Y.)
Contained in the controversial memo released yesterday are salacious allegations—notably that Trump engaged Russian prostitutes to perform a "golden shower" show for him, allegedly urinating in the bed at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton in which President Barack Obama previously slept. Such details, the memo alleges, could be used to blackmail Trump. The author also says Russian officials offered Trump various "sweetener deals" but that he rejected them.
The memo also alleges that Russian sources fed Trump's team "valuable intelligence" about Clinton, which the team did allegedly accept.
Numerous media outlets, including CNN, the Times, Buzzfeed and the Guardian have now reported on the document but none has been able to substantiate its claims.
“FAKE NEWS,” he wrote. “A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”
Trump’s response hasn’t satisfied Wyden. This morning, following a combative press conference in which Trump attacked the media and offered few answers, Wyden started tweeting his questions.