Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union arrived from Belgium to testify before three congressional committees today, but just an hour before he was set to appear the Trump administration blocked the appearance. NPR quotes a statement from the law firm representing Sondland. It reads in part:
“Early this morning, the U.S. Department of State directed Ambassador Gordon Sondland not to appear today for his scheduled transcribed interview before the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Committee… 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. 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.”
The New York Times says the attorney went on to say, “Mr. Sondland had been prepared and happy to testify, and would do so in the future if allowed.”
The decision to prevent Sondland from testifying came just a short time after the Wall Street Journal published a story that says the Ambassador actually spoke with Trump about the Ukraine matter.
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) October 8, 2019
Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, spoke about Sondland’s failure to appear. He also remarked that there is more evidence that the State Department is keeping from them, “We’re also aware the ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device…and the State Department is withholding those messages as well.”
Chairman Adam Schiff says Congress is investigating whether there was an effort by the President, the Secretary of State, and others to cover up misconduct pic.twitter.com/LFshLyNW71
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) October 8, 2019
And if there’s any doubt, the decision didn’t come from the State Department, it came from the top.
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2019
But as Rep. Ted Lieu points out, if Sondland has nothing to hide, why not just let him testify?
Congress will keep investigating. We also have enough evidence right now to draft Articles of Impeachment. https://t.co/WDc9QaOt9L
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 8, 2019
For more on Sondland’s involvement in the Ukraine scandal and what he may have testified to on Capitol Hill today, take a look at the report above from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.