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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Interview With Rep. Denny Heck

Interview

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Joining us now, Congressman Denny Heck. He's a Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

So, first of all, what's your reaction to Senator Sanders getting this formal briefing that Russia is also trying to interfere to boost his chances in 2020?

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Well, Wolf, obviously, anything I may have learned in that closed and classified briefing last week, I can neither confirm nor deny.

But, look, let me say this. I have not endorsed in this presidential rates. I have no skin in this game. But I saw Senator Sanders' statement on this, and I find them to be highly authentic.

Furthermore, I can guarantee you that Senator Sanders will never hold a press conference and openly invite Russia to interfere in our election, like candidate Trump did, nor will anyone on Senator Sanders' staff ever meet with cutouts or operatives from the Russian government, like those on behalf of candidate Trump did any number of times.

And that's because Senator Sanders' position in this regard reflects the whole -- the consensus opinion of Americans, that foreign governments have no right to interfere in our elections, period, full stop.

BLITZER: Well, you heard Senator Sanders formally publicly just a little while ago confirmed that he was briefed by the U.S. intelligence community, he says maybe a month ago, that the Russians were trying to interfere to help his campaign.

Why do you think, Congressman, the Russians want to help the Bernie Sanders campaign?

HECK: Well, I think they do in fact want to sow division.

It may be that they think Senator Sanders will be easier for President Trump, who is clearly their ally, to defeat, but I don't know that. In and of itself, sowing division seems to be a strong objective of theirs, but, you know, look, this is what we're going to get.

This is President Trump, denial that it ever happened. He's not going to change his colors. And after three years, anybody that thinks he's going to change his trajectory in cozying up to Russia, all paths, all roads lead to Putin, is whistling past the graveyard.

This is who he is. And we can be outraged and have our heads explode or our hair catch on fire with this admittedly outrageous behavior. But it is what it is. And there's only one remedy, and it's November.

BLITZER: All this comes, as you mentioned, after you and your colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, Democrats and Republicans, received this classified briefing.

[18:15:08]

I understand you can't provide details on Russia's preference for President Trump to win reelection. The president, though, now publicly is calling all of this, in his words, a misinformation campaign launched by Democrats. What does it tell you? What does that tell you?

HECK: More of the same.

It's -- as I asserted earlier, Wolf, he denied it, even though the Mueller report laid it out abundantly clear that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with a preference for Trump to be elected. And they have been paid off, have they not?

Let's just take a step back and look. When he was in Helsinki, he told the world that he believed Putin, over the unanimous consent of his own intelligence community. Furthermore, when it came to the Ukraine, he withheld military assistance from our vulnerable ally, which Russia very much appreciated, because they are occupying Eastern Ukraine.

And when it came to Syria, we turned our backs on our longest allies in the area, the Kurds, who had actually fought the war against ISIS on our behalf and gave 12,000 of their fellow Kurds lives up in defeating ISIS, and the Russians delighted in us turning or back on them.

He has paid them off for their help in the 2016 election, and that alliance seemingly continues.

BLITZER: Congressman Denny Heck, thanks so much for joining us.

HECK: You're welcome, sir.

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