This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, February 15, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: If you're former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, you've got to be shaking in your boots. A former underling has just ripped your testimony to bits. And her name is Sherron Watkins, literally overnight becoming a cult hero figure in a scandal that has blessedly few. Skilling's lawyer disputing much of Watkins' testimony today. So we thought we'd go back to Watkins' attorney today.
On the phone with us right now exclusively, Philip Hilder, Sherron Watkins' attorney, the man who told Watkins, do not plead the Fifth, just talk to them. Boy, did she ever. Philip Hilder, welcome. Good to have you.
PHILIP HILDER, SHERRON WATKIN`S ATTORNEY: Nice to be here, Neil.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you about what the Skilling folks are saying post the remarks, that they are not quite what Sherron makes them out to be, that they were not aware of all the details, they say, she says they were.
What do you make of that?
HILDER: Well, I just think it is very unfortunate spin on their part. The Skilling people's comments are about as credible and as believable as his testimony. I think they ought to focus not on the court of public opinion, but rather their defense in a court of law. I think certainly in the final analysis, I fully expect that Miss Watkins' allegations will be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Philip, as well about the role that she says Ken Lay played. I guess the kindest thing you could say is that he was kind of out to lunch, but that there was nothing sinister going on here. A lot of people have been disputing that. Is he really just the boss who was out of it?
HILDER: Well, Sherron is not saying that nothing sinister wasn't going on. She doesn't know. All she is trying to communicate is that he certainly understood what she was communicating to him, and she thought that he was certainly going to have the matter investigated. I know the spin is out there that she's saying that he didn't know anything sinister. I mean, she doesn't know what he knew or did know. All she knows is from her observations and what she communicated to him.
CAVUTO: So, Ken Lay comes across, for the first time in this, the former chairman, as not necessarily a bad guy, but kind of like a clueless guy, am I getting that right?
HILDER: Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call him clueless, but certainly he may have been aware of everything that was going on beneath him.
CAVUTO: You know, Philip, there are questions being raised as well about why she chose, and maybe both of you chose, to contradict some many of Jeff Skilling's statements here. Was there simply bad blood here because she was treated shabbily by Skilling, or allegedly?
HILDER: Absolutely not. I mean, don't forget, Sherron Watkins is only the messenger. She is not the issue here. The issue is what did Mr. Skilling and others know to lead the seventh largest company of America to vaporize. All she did was to communicate what she had uncovered, what she had learned and her observations, and that's it. She didn't have any role in this. The focus needs to be shifted back to Andersen, to Skilling and to others to have them answer some very tough questions.
CAVUTO: You know, there are people who are going to ask the same tough questions in the future of Sherron Watkins, saying that she can't come out smelling so squeaky clean here because, you know, she also was profiting and appreciating off the stock that was getting richer and that she was also in bed with these guys. How would you answer that?
HILDER: She certainly was not in bed with them. And, you know, she did not create the situation. Again, take a look at those that created the situation: Andersen, the law firms, Skilling and other officers and put them to the test. Why did Enron, the seventh largest company in America, vaporize?
CAVUTO: Let me ask you where she goes from here. There will no doubt be other hearings. There will no doubt be other opportunities for her to talk. What have you learned? Who wants her to speak next, when, where, all of that?
HILDER: Well, as of now, it is my understanding that the Senate may want her at some point at the end of the month. Beyond that, we're going to have to just wait and see.
CAVUTO: Have you heard as well -- I don't know if you even handle this part of Sherron Watkins' business -- that she has become a cult figure, sort of a hero figure, whether that's right or wrong, and that there are a lot of people even looking at movie deals based on this, book rights based on this, and that she could be sitting pretty. Is any of that true?
HILDER: Well, I have no idea. But I will say this, that is surely a story that has captivated America, and it's a very interesting story. It hasn't played out yet. And I won't be surprised if everything is said and done, there are several movies and several books that come out about this. Hollywood couldn't script a better story than the Enron story that is unfolding now.
CAVUTO: All right. Philip, I want to thank you. I know you've been a busy guy. We would love to you, both you and Sherron Watkins back here sometime in the near future.
HILDER: Well, thank you very much for having me and that may be a possibility in the future.
CAVUTO: Thank you, Philip.
HILDER: Appreciate it.
CAVUTO: Philip Hilder, the attorney for Sherron Watkins joining us on the phone via Houston.
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