Tillis, visiting Raleigh for The Jesse Helms Center Foundation's "Foreign Policy and Trade Challenges in the Age of Trump" forum, also took questions from the audience - but the questions also avoided the hot topic in Washington.
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"I think it's a question you should ask Senator (Richard) Burr," Tillis told ABC11 when pressed on Russia and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Burr, the senior senator from North Carolina, is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "He's really on the lead in the investigation and all those issues."
ABC11 continued to press Tillis, who finally said "it's not the way I would've done it," referring to the president's firing of Comey earlier this week.
.@SenThomTillis @POTUS @ABC11_WTVD @HelmsCenter @SenatorBurr @RichHudson @realDonaldTrump NEW: @SenThomTillis says "Not the way I would've done it" when asked about @POTUS & #comeyfired. Deflects Qs to @SenatorBurr. @ABC11_WTVD pic.twitter.com/qfjmlU2MMs— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) May 12, 2017
"It's a very interesting time in American politics, both in terms of domestic and international issues," said Helms Center President John Dodd in a release sent to ABC11. "Because President Trump doesn't have a long legislative track record, there has been a lot of speculation about the direction of our country in foreign policy, tax reform, and trade.
"With this forum, we're trying to provide a space for influential thought leaders and elected officials to discuss these matters and highlight issues of concern," Dodd added. "When Sen. Helms led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he encouraged this kind of conversation and debate, and we hope to do the same."
.@SenThomTillis @POTUS @ABC11_WTVD @HelmsCenter @SenatorBurr @RichHudson UPDATE: @SenThomTillis now taking Qs from audience. First inquisitor asks about...Senate rules & "going nuclear." @ABC11_WTVD pic.twitter.com/SvoC20nX7r— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) May 12, 2017
Also speaking at the event was Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC, the congressman representing Fayetteville and the Fort Bragg area. In a one-on-one conversation with ABC11, Hudson spoke of Russia's "propaganda" in Europe but cautioned against jumping to conclusions in the United States.
.@SenThomTillis @POTUS @ABC11_WTVD @HelmsCenter @SenatorBurr NEW: @RichHudson, Congressman from Ft Bragg area, talks #Russia & says "Americans don't understand the scope of its propaganda" @ABC11_WTVD pic.twitter.com/dtRCswvx1g— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) May 12, 2017
"I haven't personally witnessed any evidence," Hudson said. "But that's why it's so important that we support the investigation. I support the need for that investigation and look forward to hearing the conclusions. The bottom line is the American people deserve to know the truth."
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