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Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to E.U., will not appear before Congress

8:26 a.m.: Sondland will not be appearing for his scheduled congressional interview today, after the State Department ordered him not to appear.

According to a statement by Sondland’s attorney, the direction came just hours before he was to testify.

“Ambassador Sondland had previously agreed to appear voluntarily today, without the need for a subpoena, in order to answer the Committee’s questions on an expedited basis. As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department’s direction,” Sondland attorney, Robert Luskin, said in a statement. He said the ambassador was “profoundly disappointed” that he was not able to testify.

“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,” Luskin added.

Sondland was mentioned in the original whistleblower complaint and is considered a key witness in the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

Text messages released last week between Sondland and other U.S. diplomats discussed efforts to get the Ukrainians to draft a statement agreeing on investigations into Burisma, the energy company that hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter, and Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. election. The Ukrainians hoped to secure a White House meeting with President Trump.

But after Politico reported on August 29 that the president had decided to pause U.S. aid for Ukraine, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, wrote, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Sondland replied that Taylor was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” saying the president had been “crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”


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