The U.S. State Department has blocked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, from testifying before House committees in the Trump impeachment inquiry. Sondland, who flew from Belgium for the deposition is “profoundly disappointed” according to his lawyer Robert Luskin.
Said Luskin in a statement: “As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department’s direction. Ambassador Sondland is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today. Ambassador Sondland traveled to Washington from Brussels in order to prepare for his testimony and to be available to answer the Committee’s questions.”
The Washington Post reports: ‘Text messages made public last week show that Sondland, whose portfolio does not include U.S.-Ukraine relations, inserted himself into the effort to obtain a commitment from Ukraine to launch the investigations. At the time, the government in Kiev was eagerly awaiting the release of nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid and the arrangement of a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In one text message, Sondland wrote that Trump “really wants the deliverable,” referring to a clear demonstration from Ukraine that it would undertake the investigations.’
The NYT adds: “The decision to block Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, from speaking with investigators for three House committees is certain to provoke an immediate conflict with potentially profound consequences for the White House and President Trump. House Democrats have repeatedly warned that if the administration tries to interfere with their investigation, it will be construed as obstruction, a charge they see as potentially worthy of impeachment.”
Trump tweeted: ‘I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public……..to see. Importantly, Ambassador Sondland’s tweet, which few report, stated, “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” That says it ALL!’