Sondland to appear under subpoena before Dem-run House — State Dept yet to weigh in

U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland announced Friday that he will testify before the Democrat-run House next week.

This comes after the State Department directed Sondland not to appear Tuesday for scheduled interviews with House committees leading the rogue impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

(The House is acting on the accord of Speaker Nancy Pelosi alone, as the California Democrat has yet to bring impeachment up for a floor vote.)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D- Calif., called the direction an act of “obstruction of a coequal branch of government.”

Represented by attorneys Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley, the ambassador issued a statement on Friday, the National Review reported.

“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 release said. “Ambassador Sondland has at all times acted with integrity and in the interests of the United States. He has no agenda apart from answering the Committees’ questions fully and truthfully.”

The State Department may very well issue further guidance instructing Sondland not to appear Thursday under subpoena.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is whether Trump threatening to withhold foreign aid unless Ukraine investigated Joe Biden, a potential political rival — Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to get to the bottom of the former vice president demanding a top prosecutor be fired while investigating a Ukrainian gas company that hired his son.

Democrats are looking to Sondland to aide their partisan impeachment effort, in the hope that he can help establish quid pro quo being involved in Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president.

Text messages between the ambassador and former special representative to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, are of particular interest, with a request for certain documents included in the Democrats’ subpoena.

Sondland noted in his statement that he is prohibited “from producing documents concerning his official responsibilities.”

“Ambassador Sondland does not control the disposition of his documents,” the release said. “By federal law and regulation, the State Department has sole authority to produce such documents, and he hopes the materials will be shared with the Committees in advance of his Thursday testimony.”

Citing a violation of due process over the “unconstitutional posture” of Democrats, the White House announced on Tuesday it will not participate in the impeachment inquiry.

“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Democratic leadership in the House.

“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections,” the 8-page communique read, “the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it. Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers, you have left the President no choice.”

Tom Tillison

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