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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:

Go deeper

Virginia governor orders probe into pepper-spraying of Army officer

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, Va. in 2019. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday he's ordered the state police to conduct an independent investigation into a traffic stop during which two officers pepper-sprayed and drew guns on an Army lieutenant.

Driving the news: Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is suing the police officers over the incident, which attracted widespread criticism after video footage emerged. Northam said in a statement he found the incident "disturbing" and that it angered him.

Biden pollster urges blunt tax talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The top pollster for Joe Biden's presidential campaign is advising the White House to do something that often makes Democrats nervous: Talk loudly and proudly about raising taxes on the rich.

Why it matters: John Anzalone tells Axios his extensive polling and research has found that few issues receive broader support than raising taxes on corporations and people earning more than $400,000 a year.

On the front lines of the growing border crisis

A migrant mother and her children sit in the dirt at a temporary processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen, Texas. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios

At night, parents with young children march through the brush after crossing the Rio Grande River in the pitch black. By day, unaccompanied kids arrive at shelters, in one instance 17 of 17 testing positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: Axios accompanied a delegation of Republican lawmakers to South Texas last week — followed by a unilateral visit to El Paso — to see in real-time the challenges fueled by a border surge, the effects of actions taken by the previous administration, and the lagging response by the new one.