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Schiff: State Department withholding "relevant" messages from Sondland

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters Tuesday that the State Department is withholding relevant messages from U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland's personal device about the Trump administration's interactions with the Ukrainian government.

"There was no indication that [Sondland] would be a no show. Not only is the Congress being deprived of his testimony ... today, but we're also aware that the ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device, which have been provided to the State Department — although we have requested those from the ambassador. And the State Department is withholding those messages as well. Those messages are also deeply relevant to this investigation and the impeachment inquiry."

Highlights:

  • "We know from those text messages that diplomatic personnel raised a concern with [Sondland] that military assistance was being withheld to secure help from Ukraine in the president's re-election campaign."
  • "We know that Ambassador Sondland was a key player in efforts to obtain a commitment from Ukraine to investigate a bogus conspiracy theory about the 2016 election, as well as Joe Biden and his son."
  • "The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a co-equal government."
  • "By preventing us from hearing from this witness and obtaining these documents, the president and secretary of state are taking actions that prevent us from getting the facts needed to protect the nation's security."
  • "This is one of the few impeachment inquiries in the history of our country. It goes to the core of whether the president abused his office to seek political help in his re-election campaign and did so to the detriment of our nation's security."

The big picture: The Trump administration directed Sondland not to appear for a scheduled deposition with the House Oversight, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees just before he was due to appear.

  • Sondland's legal counsel released a statement saying he "is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today."
  • "Ambassador 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."

Go deeper: Trump administration directs Sondland not to appear for House deposition