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Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump said in a tweet Tuesday that he did not want the U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland to sit for a deposition in the Ukraine investigation because of the format House Democrats' impeachment inquiry has taken on.

I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see. Importantly, Ambassador Sondland’s tweet, which few report, stated, “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” That says it ALL!

Why it matters: Sondland's legal counsel said in a statement on Tuesday that he was directed by the State Department to forgo the deposition, but Trump's tweet suggests that the order came from the White House.

The big picture: Text messages were released last week between Sondland and two other diplomats wrapped up in an alleged pressure campaign to force Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

  • In one particularly memorable exchange between Sondland and Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, Taylor texted: "I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
  • That text came after Taylor said that "the message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us. That's my nightmare scenario."
  • Sondland, a Trump political appointee and GOP donor, texted back: "Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind."

Of note: The Sondland "tweet" that Trump was referring to is actually a text. The New York Times reported that Sondland's response about there being "no quid pro quo's" came after he spoke to Trump.

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

Go deeper

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Friday had already reached 61.7% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Republicans gear up for day-of and post-Election Day litigation

Voters wait in line to cast their early ballots Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Republican Party officials say they're already looking to Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Nevada as likely battlegrounds for post-election lawsuits if the results are close.

The big picture: As pre-election lawsuits draw to a close, and with President Trump running behind Joe Biden in national and many battleground state polls, Republicans are turning their attention to preparations for Election Day and beyond, and potential recounts.