CNN "Anderson Cooper 360" - Transcript: Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) is Interviewed About the Ongoing Impeachment Inquiry
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lso new today, Bolton's lawyer in a letter to Congress made clear his client has extensive knowledge about relevant meetings and conversations that could be important for the impeachment inquiry, but that he won't testify until and unless a federal judge rules on whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena. Here to discuss all of this is Congressman Denny Heck, a member of the
Intelligence Committee which conducted the closed-door hearings and which next week will begin the public phase of the impeachment inquiry.
Congressman Heck, thank you very much for being with us.
These transcripts and the statements from Fiona Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, do you think this brings this all closer to the president himself?
REP. DANNY HECK (D-WA): I don't think there's any doubt about it. First of all, John, I served with Mick Mulvaney for several years in the House of Representatives. I know Mick. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that he never would have implemented this had it not been at the direction of the president.
And, secondly, I have a bit of a unique perspective. I'm a former chief of staff myself for Governor Booth Gardner out here in Washington state. I guarantee you, no chief of staff is going to implement anything of that importance without direction from their principal, and in this case the president of the United States.
But let's be clear and let's be correct in our terminology, John. He's the acting chief of staff, and frankly I'm not very sure or confident he's going to be the acting chief of staff much longer because I think what's about to happen here is that he and Ambassador Sondland and perhaps Rudy Giuliani are all about to get thrown under the bus.
BERMAN: OK. You bring up "The Washington Post" report, which does suggest that Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, and Ambassador Sondland might be treated as fall guys from some supporters of the president. In your mind, you just said that doesn't hold any water.
HECK: Because, again, it defies credibility that the president's personal lawyer, a large donor who had ready access to the president -- that's what Ambassador Sondland did -- and his acting chief of staff would be carrying out these kinds of important acts without the direction of the president of the United States. It just defies credibility.
And that's even before you consider the fact that of course we have the president's own confession in the form of the memorandum of call between himself and president Zelensky in which he actually attempted to shake down the president of Ukraine, clearly, explicitly, inarguably.
BERMAN: Having read the transcripts of what Colonel Vindman and Fiona Hill said, neither of them said they heard directly from Mick Mulvaney about this. They say they heard from Sondland, who heard from Mulvaney.
What's the significance of that? HECK: So, John, here we are. You can either believe that all of
these people that came forward, mostly career diplomats, people across federal agencies, across continents -- all of these people who have come forward and given depositions, every one of which has in every material way corroborated one another in their narrative and the set of facts that they've brought to light -- you can either believe they're not telling the truth and somehow conspiratorially, they all got together, they all contrived all of this.
They crossed the T's and dots the I's. You can believe they did that, or you can believe, which frankly I think is common sense, a lot likelier to be case -- the president's lying.
BERMAN: Mick Mulvaney received a subpoena to testify today. He skipped it. Obviously, I'm sure you would like to hear from him directly what he has to say about it. But now that he hasn't shown up, your committee isn't going to fight it in court. Why not?
HECK: We're not going to play rope-a-dope. That's another delaying tactic on their part. They'd like to see this extended for months if not years. It's a tried and true play out of the president's playbook even when he was in the private sector. What he would do with the subcontractors, litigate them into oblivion.
But secondly, we don't need it. There's a mountain of evidence against the president beginning with, of course, his own confession, which again acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney signed in the form of that press conference in which he acknowledged that there was a quid pro quo, bribery, this for that, and the texts and the testimony of all of these people we've deposed. They all point to the president.
BERMAN: John Bolton, who was the national security adviser, his lawyer wrote a letter to Congress today saying that Bolton knows many relevant things that happened. He was part of many relevant meetings and, if he did testify, would have things to say that would shed more light in all of this.
Do you have any idea what he means? And I want to remind you and our viewers that he defied a subpoena to go testify.
HECK: Well, actually we didn't issue the subpoena, John.
BERMAN: Correct. Sorry. I misspoke. You invited him, and he didn't show up, and he made clear that he would defy the subpoena if it was issued.
HECK: Right. And I'd like to think frankly that ambassador Bolton would come forward.
I think frankly, John, it's the patriotic thing to do. He's acknowledged that he has relevant information. I think his responsibility and his duty as a citizen to share it with us and with the American public. And in fact I wish that he would take a page out of the book of two of
the people that work for him, Colonel Vindman and Dr. Fiona Hill, who had the courage to come forward and share with the committee, speak truth to power about what went on here. But, again, we're not going to play rope-a-dope. We're not going to subject ourselves to month after month after month of a protracted legal battle.
BERMAN: I do want to ask about the testimony in the deposition transcripts that have been released because you can look at this as if there are two buckets. There is one bucket which is did it happen. And then there's the other bucket of is it impeachable. The "did it happen" bucket is overflowing at this point based on the deposition. You have this, what you describe as a mountain of evidence about what took place. The "is it impeachable" bucket, how do you intend to prove that next week when these hearings go public?
HECK: So, John, that decision is really one of a matter of conscience of each of the 435 members of the House and the 100 members of the Senate. That's a question of them engaging in personal reflection and, I dare say, prayerful reflection about what is at stake here.
If you believe that the president's shaking down Ukraine, threatening to withhold critical military assistance to a vulnerable ally, a vulnerable strategic ally in Ukraine, who is trained to combat Russian aggression -- and let's remember that there are 13,000 Ukrainians who have lost their lives on their homeland soil defending themselves against Russian aggression. If you believe that that betrayal of his oath of office and that abuse of power is impeachable, then you'll get to yes.
But it's up to each of the 435 members to consider the fact. But you're right. I mean there is a mountain of evidence, and it is inarguable, and yet the president has not acknowledged it in any way, shape, or form, nor anyone around him. I'd like for us to get to the point where the debate was. Is it or is it not impeachable, but it is a fact.
BERMAN: Congressman Denny Heck, thanks for being with us tonight. I appreciate it.
HECK: Thank you, John.
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