US Ambassador to EU Will Testify in Ukraine Probe, Defying Trump Administration

Ambassador Gordon Sondland was originally scheduled for a deposition this past Tuesday but did not show up on direction from the State Department

Lawyers for Ambassador Gordon Sondland announced Friday that he will appear for an interview before a joint House committee taking depositions in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump despite having been ordered by the State Department not to appear.

Sondland attorneys Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley said Sondland will honor a congressional subpoena and "looks forward to testifying" Oct. 17. The lawyers said Friday that Sondland has no agenda apart from answering questions "fully and truthfully."

Sondland is the sitting U.S. ambassador to the European Union and an employee of the State Department.

He has also been ordered to produce "relevant documents" but his lawyers said he won't be bringing documents with him. They said the State Department has sole authority to produce such documents and that Sondland hopes they'll be shared with the committees before his testimony.

Sondland was originally scheduled for a deposition this past Tuesday but did not show up on direction from the State Department. Trump tweeted immediately afterward that he couldn't let Sondland testify because the Democrat-led probe was "compromised."

The joint House committee issued the subpoena for Sondland's testimony hours later.

"Notwithstanding the State Department's current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees' subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday," said a statement from attorneys Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley. "Ambassador Sondland has at all times acted with integrity and in the interests of the United States. He has no agenda apart from answering the Committees' questions fully and truthfully."

Democrats want to ask him about text messages released last week that show him and two other U.S. diplomats acting as intermediaries as Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 U.S. election and Hunter Biden's involvement with a gas company there.

Earlier this week, the White House sent Congress a letter outlining its opposition to the impeachment probe and refusing to cooperate with requests for information, including interviews with administration officials. The House committees have moved to subpoena officials instead.

The three House committees have scheduled closed-door depositions for almost every day next week — though it's unclear if everyone will show up.

On Monday, Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser who focused on Russia, is expected to testify. Other current State Department officials scheduled for testimony are Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent on Tuesday and Ulrich Brechbuhl, a State Department counselor, on Thursday.

The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was ousted from her post after insisting that Rudy Giuliani's requests to Ukrainian officials for investigations be relayed through official channels, is scheduled to testify on Friday.

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