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Katko's televised town hall gets testy, particularly when topic turns to Trump

Ellen Abbott
Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) at Monday evening's town hall, televised on Syracuse TV stations NBC3/CBS5.

Monday night, 130 people were allowed in to what Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) labeled a town hall event, televised live by CNY Central’s NBC3/CBS5 television stations last night. 

There were questions on a wide range of issues, but much of the give and take between the Republican and many of the audience were all about one thing -- the Trump presidency.

Things started out quietly, with Katko actually getting some props from the audience for his support of climate change and the rights of refugees to come to this country. But things started going south when questioners started talking about President Donald Trump.

"I’m going to get the elephant out of the room. This president is not well,” said one member of the audience.

Katko didn’t criticize Trump, only calling his attempted refugee ban and initial attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act misstep. And he applauded Trump for trying to take on controversial issues.

Things became the most heated when Katko reacted to the accusation that Trump and family members are taking payments from foreign governments.

"It was a problem with the previous administration when Secretary Clinton was secretary of state,” Katko said to boos from the audience. “And her husband was receiving tons of money from places.” And audience member yelled out, asking Katko to answer the question, prompting some back-and-forth from the congressman.

“The bottom line it is a persistent problem,” Katko said, finally.

The almost-60-minute session ended with Katko promising more such event.

“I learned form you all and I appreciate the fact you feel different from me and that’s great. We’re going to continue to have these conversations. And we’ll have more of these,” Katko said.

But the audience was perhaps not so happy. When moderator Michael Benny tried to get a sense of things at the end by asking how the town hall went, he was answered by some boos from some people in attendance.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.