Oct 8, 2019

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

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.