Ambassador Blocked From Testifying in Trump Impeachment Inquiry
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
October 8, 2019
The U.S. Ambassador to the European Union scheduled to appear for an interview with House committees leading an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has been directed by the State Department not to appear on Tuesday morning, the New York Times reported.
Gordon D. Sondland, who served as the United States Ambassador to the European Union, was scheduled for an interview with investigators with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, but according to his attorney, he will no longer appear voluntarily.
"Ambassador Sondland had previously agreed to appear voluntarily today, without the need for a subpoena, in order to answer the Committee’s questions on an expedited basis," Sondland's attorney, Robert Luskin, said 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," Luskin continued.
Sondland is "profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today," the attorney added.
In a tweet sent Tuesday morning, President Trump went after the committees who are conducting the impeachment inquiry.
"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," Trump wrote in a series of tweets. "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!"
Sondland's name surfaced as one of the key players in the Ukraine scandal that Democrats say show Trump using military aid as leverage to force his Ukraine counterpart to investigate his political rivals. Text messages between Sondland and other U.S. officials released last week show that the diplomats believed if the newly-elected Ukrainian president would publicly promise to order an investigation into Biden's son and look into a conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 election, the White House would grant Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky with an official White House visit and release nearly $400 million in military aid Trump had previously placed on hold.
The text messages between Trump's then-special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, Sondland and other U.S. diplomats were released following nine hours of testimony from Volker last week.
Luskin added that Sondland hopes the State Department will allow him to testify.
"He stands ready to testify on short notice, whenever he is permitted to appear," Luskin said.
Photo: Getty Images