Sen. Jeff Merkley told BuzzFeed News Monday that he thinks Russia has compromising information on President Donald Trump, specifically "something like" the alleged "pee tape" of Trump with prostitutes in Russia in 2013, as alleged in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official.
Merkley, a Democrat who sits on the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is considering running for president in 2020. He was speaking to BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith on AM to DM when he made the comments.
"What do you think of Trump's persistent, among other things, refusal to criticize Vladimir Putin? I mean do you think Vladimir Putin has anything on him?" Smith asked.
"I think its likely, yeah," Merkley said. "It's a standard strategy of Russia when people visit there who are important to try to get compromising information on them, to set them up with hookers, to tape everything that goes on in their room."
"Just to put this in terms that the Twitter world can relate to, you think the pee tape is real?" Smith asked.
"Something close to that, something close to that," Merkley said.
The dossier was published by BuzzFeed News in January last year after former president Barack Obama and then-president-elect Trump were briefed on it. Trump has denied the existence of any incriminating evidence the Russians could have against him.
The interview as Trump conducted a two-hour, closed-door meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
"We have great opportunities together. We have not been getting along very well for the last few years … but I think we can end up having an extraordinary relationship," Trump said while sitting with Putin before the meeting.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.