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Schiff Issues a Warning After Witness No-Show

He sees obstruction of justice while Trump slams 'kangaroo court'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2019 11:05 AM CDT
Trump Defends Snubbing of 'Kangaroo Court'
In this July 10, 2018, file photo, President Trump is joined by Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, second from right, as he arrives at Melsbroek Air Base in Belgium.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(Newser) – The White House took the controversial step Tuesday of ordering a key witness in the Ukraine controversy not to testify before Congress, and President Trump quickly defended the move on Twitter. "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," the president wrote. The reference is to Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, who was one of the diplomats who communicated with Ukraine officials as Trump suggested they investigate the Bidens. Related:

  • Schiff's response: Democrat Adam Schiff said the Sondland decision amounted to obstruction of justice. That is "potentially profound," per the New York Times, because Democrats have warned that obstruction is grounds for impeachment. Schiff also asserted that Sondland has pertinent messages on a personal device that haven't been turned over the Congress, reports the Hill.
  • Subpoena coming: Schiff and two other panel chairs involved in the impeachment inquiry said they would issue a subpoena for Sondland to appear. (7pm ET update: A subpoena has indeed been issued.) "We consider this interference to be obstruction of the impeachment inquiry," the three committee chairmen said in a statement, per the Washington Post. "We will be issuing [a] subpoena to Ambassador Sondland for both his testimony and documents."

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  • Sondland's line: In his tweets, Trump made a point to note that one of the texts from Sondland to have emerged previously backed the president's assertion that no quid pro quo was in play with Ukraine. "That says it ALL!" declared Trump.
  • Rudy invitation: Sen. Lindsey Graham issued an invitation for Rudy Giuliani to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to give his side of the Ukraine story. The GOP senator knocked the "behavior" of the House and tweeted that "it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine."
  • New poll: A Washington Post-Schar School poll finds that a majority of Americans now support the House impeachment inquiry, and nearly half think the House should recommend that Trump be removed from office. The Post sees this as a notable shift in sentiment against Trump over the last few weeks.
  • Late call: The State Department informed Sondland that he wouldn't be appearing for his deposition in a 12:30am phone call Tuesday, reports Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News. Sondland was otherwise going to show up for a deposition with House investigators Tuesday morning.
(Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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