A key diplomat at the center of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump said he will testify before House committees despite efforts by the State Department to stop his deposition, according to his lawyers on Friday, Oct. 11.
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and an employee of the State Department, was previously scheduled to appear before a joint House committee on Oct. 8 to answer lawmakers questions in a closed session. Sondlands attorney, Robert Luskin, said at the time that his client was directed by the U.S. State Department to not appear for his scheduled meeting in Congress.
In a statement to media outlets on Friday, Luskin and another lawyer, Kwame Manley, said Sondland will comply with the committees subpoena and is scheduled to testify on Oct. 17.
“Notwithstanding the State Departments current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday,” the statement said.
His lawyers said that although Sondland will appear at the hearing, he will not be producing the “relevant documents” directed by the subpoena. They said the State Department has sole authority to produce such documents and that federal law and regulation prohibit their client from doing so.
The lawyers added that their client hopes they will be shared with the committees before his testimony.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.
Sondland was subpoenaed as part of the House Democrats impeachment inquiry that is centered on a whistleblower complaint detailing concerns about Trumps conduct during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. The whistleblower accused the president of leveraging his office and withholding U.S. aid to Ukraine to obtain “dirt” on a political opponent—2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
A declassified transcript of a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, released by the White House on Sept. 25, quotes Trump as saying, “Theres a lot of talk about Bidens son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.” From the transcript Trump does not appear to pressure Zelensky or offer any quid pro quo.
Meanwhile, Trump defended his call, saying that his request for Ukraines assistance to look into Bidens dealings was intended to investigate alleged corruption, not to look for information on a political opponent. In 2018, Biden boasted that he had pressured then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to remove a prosecutor who was investigating a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, where the former vice presidents son held a lucrative board position.
Messages between Sondland and another ambassador were released along with other selected messages on Oct. 3 by House Democrats, who argued that the messages “reflect serious concerns by a State Department official about the detrimental effects of withholding critical military assistance from Ukraine and the importance of setting up a meeting between President Trump and the Ukrainian President without further delay.”
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