Dem: Trump ignores ‘any fact that is uncomfortable’

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination MORE (D-Ore.) said Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens MORE ignores any facts that make him uncomfortable, referring to his response to escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

"I think President Trump finds any fact that is uncomfortable one which he wants to ignore," Merkley told CNN.

"In this case he's saying, well it's not good either way, which is in essence a reference to Russia saying, well they have their case for why it was a legitimate ability to take these vessels and imprison these sailors," Merkley continued.

Trump said Monday that the U.S. will cooperate with Europe to address an incident in which Russia fired on three Ukrainian ships, wounding some sailors and capturing two ships and a tugboat.

"We do not like what’s happening either way. We don't like what's happening, and hopefully it’ll get straightened out," Trump said.

But U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyWill Trump ignore the Constitution and stay in White House beyond his term? Trump taps ex-State spokeswoman Heather Nauert to help oversee White House fellowships Conservatives slam Omar over tweet on Gaza violence MORE offered a more forceful response, criticizing Russia for its actions and saying that the U.S. supports Ukraine's sovereignty during a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

“We strongly support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters," Haley said Monday. "We express our deep concern over the incident, which represent a dangerous escalation and violation of international law."


Merkley said he preferred the tone Haley set.

"That's absolutely the right response, a powerful condemnation of this act of aggression on this waterway and certainly a strong rebuke to Russian partnership with our NATO allies," he added.

"This equivalence is not OK," he said of Trump's response. "And I think that Nikki Haley said she cleared and coordinated so hopefully the president will partner with his entire team and send a strong message on this."

Merkley also said that Trump should not meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit later this week.

"I don't think he should meet one-on-one and it's a list of reasons," Merkley said. "First, he's under investigation for possible collusion with the Russians, we don't know what kind of connections he has financially, conflicts of interest.

"There was no transparency on his last meeting, this one-on-one meeting where only a translator was there, we still don't know what was said at that meeting and, quite frankly, there needs to be a strong front with our national security partners present to say what's acceptable and what's not."

"Just don't believe that President Trump is capable on these one-on-one meetings of conveying any form of criticism or setting any sort of boundaries," he added.

Updated at 10:25 a.m.