House Democrats issued a statement Tuesday saying they will issue a subpoena to Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was scheduled to testify hours earlier in connection with the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, but was ordered not to appear by the State Department.
“Today, the White House has once again attempted to impede and obstruct the impeachment inquiry,” wrote the heads of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. “We will be issuing subpoena to Ambassador Sondland for both his testimony and his documents.”
The committee heads also state that Sondland’s attorneys informed them that his client had recovered “communications from his personal devices” requested by them, but that he subsequently turned the documents over to the State Department, which is currently refusing to provide the documents to the House.
The impeachment inquiry is focused on whether Trump withheld military assistance from Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct investigations that would damage political rival Joe Biden.
A set of documents revealed to the House last week revealed text message conversations between American diplomats, including Sondland, discussing the delay in the aid package.
On September 9 Bill Taylor, a diplomat stationed in Kyiv, wrote to Sondland, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Sondland responded to the last message after a space of four and a half hours, during which time he called and spoke to Trump directly, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sondland then replied, “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.”
Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) has stated that Sondland told him President Trump had conditioned delivery of military aid to Ukraine on commitments to investigate the Bidens. Johnson reported that he called Trump the next day and brought up the issue, but Trump flatly denied Sondland’s assertion.