Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., questions top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor and career Foreign Service officer George Kent at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., questions top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor and career Foreign Service officer George Kent at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

As historic inquiry unfolds, this guy’s got a front row seat

Congressman Denny Heck, a Democrat from Olympia, made his mark as House Intelligence Committee member.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Denny Heck of Washington had a front row seat at Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry hearing.

And the member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence used his allotted five minutes to explore how President Donald Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals — as intimated in a phone call with the Ukrainian president — affected those tasked with carrying out American foreign policy.

“For as long as I can remember, U.S. foreign policy has been predicated on advancing principled interests and Democratic values. When American leaders ask foreign governments to investigate their rivals, does it make it more difficult for you to do your job?” Heck asked veteran state department official George Kent and acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.

“I think it makes it more difficult … yes,” said Kent, who is deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Heck, of Olympia, is in his fourth term representing the 10th congressional district. He is a former state representative and a founder of TVW, the statewide public affairs network which provides live coverage of legislative activity and civic events.

He is the only member of the state delegation on the Democrat-controlled Intelligence Committee. Members are seeking to ascertain if Trump exceeded his authority when he expressed a desire for the Ukraine president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm when his father served as vice president.

Heck, like the other six House Democrats in the Washington delegation, voted to proceed with the impeachment inquiry, which is a precursor to an impeachment vote.

His round of questioning came in the latter part of the roughly six-hour hearing. He used his final moments to lay bare his conclusion that President Trump went too far.

“Anyone looking at the facts can see what happened was an abuse of power,” he said. “Anyone looking at the facts can see what happened was unethical. Anyone looking at the facts can see … that what went on was just plain wrong.”

The committee’s next hearing is Friday with additional hearings next week.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos

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