CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript: Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) Discuss About The Public Hearing
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BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Alex. And out front now one of the Democratic Congressman on the Intelligence Committee who questioned the witnesses today, Congressman Denny Heck. Congressman, I appreciate your time.
So here we are, six hours, two witnesses in, are you satisfied with what happened at the public hearing today?
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Well, it's just the beginning, Erin, and the rest of America has been given an opportunity to learn what we've learned through all those many weeks of depositions behind closed doors. I thought the two gentlemen today presented themselves very credibly.
One; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, a 27-year veteran of the Foreign Service and quite distinguished. And, of course, Ambassador Taylor, who was a West Point graduate. In fact, we learned today he was graduated fifth out of 800 and a Vietnam veteran and a distinguished career in the Foreign Service.
They made a compelling and clear cases they had during their depositions. My hope going forward, frankly, is that as many Americans as possible will tune in and evaluate this. I asked them to keep an open mind in taking this information, because the fact of the matter is there is a mountain of evidence.
BURNETT: So do you think anything happened in that room today that will actually move the needle for Americans who are tuning in for the first time or Americans who may support the President but are tuning in for the first time or perhaps Congressman or any Republican senators who are trying to keep an open mind on which way they'll vote?
HECK: Absolutely. I thought going into today there are kind of three buckets, those who haven't tuned in at all, and they would have an opportunity to see and hear this for themselves. And I thought, again, it was very compelling.
Secondly, there are people who have been paying close attention and they may have read the depositions. But, again, that's just ain't going to page, they got to see and hear from two incredibly credible witnesses.
Thirdly and I thought the least chance would happen is that new information would be revealed. But lo and behold, I was wrong, there was, of course, a bit of a mini bombshell when Ambassador Taylor revealed that his aide actually literally overheard Ambassador Sondland and President Trump talking the day after the July 25th phone call, wherein President Trump inquired about the status of the investigations.
That's a bit of a smoking gun, Erin.
BURNETT: So let me ask you about that aide, David Holmes, as we mentioned he is scheduled to be deposed behind closed doors by your committee on Friday.
Here's, I guess, the key question on this, we had the testimony behind closed doors with Taylor, you had it, you released the transcript. Now, he's in public. This is completely new information that his aide shared with him. Do you have any idea why Holmes did not come forward with this information sooner?
HECK: Well, I know that Ambassador Taylor just learned about it within the last week and that's why he revealed it. No, I have no idea. That'll be one of many, many, many questions that we'll ask Mr. Holmes. But mostly we want to hear from him exactly what it is he heard in that phone call between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump in which President Trump again inquired about the investigations.
BURNETT: All right. So President Trump, as I mentioned, was asked today about that call with Sondland which Holmes overheard. And I want to play, again, just a part, Congressman Heck, of what the President said when he was asked if he remembered this conversation with Gordon Sondland. Here he is.
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TRUMP: Not at all. Not even a little bit. The only thing and I guess Sondland had stayed with his testimony that there was no quid pro quo, pure and simple.
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BURNETT: Is it possible he doesn't remember.
HECK: Well, listen, Erin, here's what we do know, he has instructed everybody around him that he can exercise authority over not to come forward. He has prohibited the State Department and others from providing the documentation and the documents that the House Intelligence Committee duly subpoenaed.
What we know is that he is trying to stonewall this thing from beginning to end. So it would not be consistent for him not to remember and to do that when if any of those people frankly had exculpatory information. Information that could cast him in a more innocent light.
He would be driving them himself down to the Capitol Building and sitting next to them in the witness chair, but that's not what he's doing.
BURNETT: Now, from a legal perspective and certainly it may not matter whether we hear it from the President's mouth or not and yet, we haven't until this phone call that's been overheard, which you're going to get more testimony about. But everything else has been what other people - someone had a conversation with Gordon Sondland or other instances.
And Republicans in the hearing were pushing that key line of defense, they're saying it's hearsay.
HECK: Erin, what you say is not true.
BURNETT: What are you referring?
HECK: The memorandum of call, the transcript of the conversation ...
BURNETT: In which he asked for a favor, that's right, but a direction of saying we're going to do this for that. So far we have gotten from people saying Gordon Sondland said it to them, Rudy Giuliani. We hadn't heard it directly from the President, that's all I'm saying other than the phone call transcript itself.
HECK: Erin, it is an interesting legal standard you're creating, which would suggest that if anybody were ever arrested and indicted for a crime unless there was videotape evidence of them and an eyewitness of them committing the crime they could never ever, ever be convicted. And, of course, that's not the case.
BURNETT: Well, what I just said was legally you may not need that. I don't know if you heard how I said it. I said legally you may not need it, but it is what Republicans are pointing to. You heard them do it again and again today. Is that a problem? Is that a problem?
They're quoting, you heard Jim Jordan quote from a piece of testimony from Taylor, where Taylor says, "Well, I had a conversation with this person. I had a conversation with that person. I had a conversation with that person." And they're using that against him to say, look, this is a game of, what was it, a game of - a church conversation, I believe Jim Jordan called it. Is that a problem for you in the eye of the public?
HECK: Erin, they're going to use any excuse they can to defend the President as they have from day one without an open mind getting at the truth and letting the facts speak for themselves. There is a mountain of evidence, a mountain of evidence to suggest that the President did it.
He just did it. It's is compelling. It's almost inarguable at this point. There is more evidence to suggest that he did it than there is evidence that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.
BURNETT: All right. Congressman Heck, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.
HECK: You're welcome.
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