- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2018

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez said Wednesday that he sees the revelations from the now public recordings between Michael Cohen and then-candidate Donald Trump as part of a larger transparency problem.

The ranking member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee explained during an interview on CNN’s “New Day” that the tapes show that Mr. Trump was not transparent during that transaction, the election, or now.

“Above all, it just goes to show an administration that is not transparent,” Mr. Menendez said.  

The October 2016 audio clip was acquired by CNN and released Tuesday night. Mr. Trump and his now-former personal attorney Mr. Cohen talked about buying the rights to Karen McDougal’s story, who allegedly had an affair with the businessman.

Mr. Menendez explained that the secrecy surrounding the tape issue is not the only time the president lacked transparency. The Democratic senator said that is why he’s looking forward to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s testimony in front of Congress on Wednesday.

“Six weeks after North Korea, we still don’t know anything. Two hours plus with Vladimir Putin alone, we don’t know what transpired,” Mr. Menendez said. 

The senator said he planned on asking Mr. Pompeo if he was briefed by the president after the private meeting with the Russian president. Mr. Menendez said lawmakers are going to “test” what the top diplomat knows and will demand he explain why they should believe his answers.

“You want somebody there to verify your side of the conversation,” Mr. Menendez said, arguing that Mr. Trump is “comfortable” without that verification.

He also continued to call for the president’s translator to testify before Congress. Republicans shot down a resolution on July 19 to subpoena the translator.

Victor Morton contributed to this article.

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