Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to stop him, United States Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland will testify in House Democrats’ impeachment probe against President Donald Trump next week, his lawyers says.
In a Friday morning statement, an attorney for Ambassador Sondland said, “Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction not to testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday.” The statement adds that the diplomat “has no agenda apart from answering the Committees’ questions fully and truthfully.”
Earlier this week, Sondland was scheduled to voluntarily give testimony to a trio of House Committees but was blocked from doing so at the last minute by the Trump administration.
“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify,” President Trump said of the decision, “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.”
The chairmen of the relevant committees responded later that day with a subpoena for Sondland’s testimony and documents related to the investigation.
Sondland’s attorney says that while his client can provide testimony to the impeachment investigation, the subpoenaed documents are another matter entirely. The ambassador “respects the Committee’s interest in reviewing all relevant materials,” the statement explains, “however, federal law and State Department regulations prohibit him from producing documents concerning his officials responsibilities.”
The White House, however, has unequivocally stated that it will not cooperate with the impeachment probe in a letter sent out Tuesday night. Chief among the reasons it listed is the fact that the probe was announced without an authorizing vote of the full House of Representatives, as has been done in past presidential impeachment cases.
Sondland is a key figure in the controversy surrounding President Trump’s communications with Ukrainian government officials. In testimony given last week, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker told lawmakers that he consulted with Sondland in August about a proposed anti-corruption statement to be given by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to the testimony and a corresponding text message, Volker and Sondland discussed whether or not the statement should mention Burisma — the energy company that employed former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter — and allegations of interfering in the 2016 elections. Volker testified that the statement was ultimately scrapped.