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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.

  • The Trump administration gave the order just hours before Sondland was scheduled to sit for a deposition in the Capitol, and House Democrats have warned that they will consider any attempts by the administration to interfere with their investigation as obstruction, possible grounds for impeachment.

Context: Sondland and the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker reportedly drafted a statement in August that would have committed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigating the Ukrainian energy company that once counted Hunter Biden as a board member.

  • Both Sondland and Volker were both named in the whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry.
  • Volker testified before a group of House committees last week, claiming no knowledge of any Trump administration push to pressure Ukraine. He also release text messages that featured conversations between him, Sondland and Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine.

What they're saying: Sondland's legal counsel released a statement saying he "is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to to testify today."

  • "Ambassador Sondland believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States, and he stand ready to answer the Committee's questions fully and truthfully."

Go deeper:

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Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

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GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.