Updated Oct 8, 2019

House Democrats subpoena EU ambassador blocked from Ukraine testimony

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees have subpoenaed U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who was blocked by the Trump administration from testifying in their Ukraine investigation on Tuesday, to turn over documents by Oct. 14 and appear at a deposition on Oct. 16.

The big picture: The chairs said in a statement that the State Department's decision to stop Sondland from testifying will be considered evidence of obstruction in their impeachment inquiry. They added that the State Department is withholding relevant messages from Sondland's personal device about the Trump administration's interactions with the Ukrainian government.

“These actions appear to be part of the White House’s effort to obstruct the impeachment inquiry and to cover up President Trump’s misconduct from Congress and the American people.  Ambassador Sondland’s testimony and documents are vital, and that is precisely why the Administration is now blocking his testimony and withholding his documents."
— Chairmen Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings

Background: According to the committees, "Sondland was at the center of the effort to orchestrate a Ukrainian statement confirming the initiation" of investigations into Joe Biden and alleged Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election in exchange for a White House visit.

  • "The pressure on Ukraine took place as the White House also withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in vital military assistance to counter Russian aggression."
  • "Sondland and other State Department officials discussed whether military security assistance was being withheld from Ukraine as leverage to force the initiation of the political investigations."

Of note: A State Department official informed Sondland that he would not be permitted to testify at 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, hours before he was set to appear on Capitol Hill, according to Sondland's attorney.

Read the subpoena:

Go deeper: Trump says he won’t let Sondland testify before House "kangaroo court"

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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.

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Scoop: EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland to testify next week

Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland will testify next Wednesday before the House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine, despite being blocked by the State Department from appearing at a closed-door deposition this week, 4 congressional sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Sondland's lawyer confirmed Friday that the ambassador does plan to testify — "notwithstanding the State Department's current direction not to testify."

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Trump administration directs EU ambassador not to appear for House deposition

United States Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Photo by Daniel Mihailscu/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration directed the U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland not to appear for a scheduled deposition with House Democrats on Tuesday, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Democrats want to question Sondland about his role in President Trump's pressure campaign on Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden's son, Hunter.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019