Rep. Denny Heck of Washington
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Rep. Denny Heck of Washington
Credit: U.S. House Office of Photography

Rep. Denny Heck: Mueller could reveal Trump report early next year

Congressman Denny Heck said independent counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation will help House lawmakers decide whether to impeach President Donald Trump.

Heck is a Democrat who represents Washington state’s 10th Congressional District, centered in Olympia. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee.

He spoke with KUOW’s Angela King before Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced for lying about Trump's business dealings in Russia and paying off two women who said they had sex with Trump, among other crimes.

King: You told CNN you thought there's enough evidence to prove the president did commit a felony and there's a lot more to come. When do we find out what you know?

Heck: What I had actually said on CNN was that he's essentially been named an unindicted co-conspirator with Michael Cohen on the payoffs to the two women to avoid campaign finance disclosure laws. That's a felony to which Mike Cohen has pleaded guilty.

It's really up to Bob Mueller. We'll know when he chooses to reveal it. I suspect it will be around the first of the year, the first quarter of the year.

King: This morning NPR talked with conservative talk show host Chris Buskirk about the Russia investigation. He said, “The big crime here is supposed to be, you know, somehow Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin planning to quote unquote steal an election. There's been no evidence of that. And as I've been saying now for over a year, if Mueller has the evidence, show it to us.” So what do you have to say to that?

Heck: The Mueller investigation has yielded 190 criminal charges, 36 indictments or pleas, three prison sentences. And these guilty pleas and indictments have involved the president's campaign manager, his national security adviser and his personal lawyer.

I think it's been one of our most effective investigations in American history and it's not yet done, so I'm not familiar with this particular talk show host, but he may want to keep his powder dry a little bit longer as Bob Mueller continues in his work.

King: Over the weekend former FBI Director James Comey said this: “I hope Donald Trump is not removed from office by impeachment, because that would let the country off the hook. ... And we need a moment of inflection where we all get off the couch and say that is not who we are, and in a landslide rid ourselves of this attack on our values.” Do you agree with James Comey?

Heck: I'm from the school of we ought to go where the evidence leads us and the investigation and all the evidence is not yet in. So I wouldn't want to prejudge Bob Mueller's report, which is essentially what former Director Comey’s doing. Frankly I understand his point of view and his frustration. But the fact of the matter is we ought to go where the facts and the evidence lead us.

King: But if the facts lead to that conclusion, do you think the president should be impeached?

Heck: Well which facts are you suggesting then are made public? I mean it's a question of what it is that he says he found for which he has evidence and corroboration.

King: Would it be the collusion efforts? Would it be the obstruction? What do you think could support impeachment?

Heck: We already have collusion. The question here is coordination and conspiracy. They are three different words with three different meanings. So if he is found to have inarguably committed obstruction of justice, if he is found to have inarguably coordinated and conspired with the Russians to interfere in our election, I think those would be very weighty recommendations on Bob Mueller's part. We cannot tolerate, we cannot abide, we cannot accept that a foreign country interferes in our election and attempts to steal it and let it go unpunished or we will be inviting more of it.