Key Witness in Ukraine Controversy Will Not Testify

State Department orders ambassador Gordon Sondland not to speak to House panels
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2019 8:43 AM CDT
White House Blocks Testimony From Key Ukraine Witness
In this 2018 file photo, President Trump is joined by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, second from right, as he arrives at Melsbroek Air Base, in Brussels, Belgium.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The White House is blocking the testimony of a key witness in the Ukraine controversy, reports Politico. The State Department has ordered Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the EU, not to show up for a Tuesday deposition with House investigators. “Ambassador Sondland is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today,” said his attorney, Robert Luskin, adding that "Sondland believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States, and he stands ready to answer the committee’s questions fully and truthfully." Sondland's name emerged in the matter because he was one of the diplomats who worked with Ukraine officials as President Trump suggested they investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, per the Washington Post.

Tuesday's move is a dicey one, because Democrats could view it as White House obstruction, a potentially impeachable offense, reports the New York Times. There was no immediate response from Democrats involved with the impeachment investigation. In texts that emerged in the controversy, Sondland came across as a defender of Trump's initiatives. When a fellow diplomat wrote it was "crazy" to hold up aid over a political matter, Sondland rejected the characterization. "I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions," Sondland wrote back. "The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind." (More Trump impeachment stories.)

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