One of the most important testimonies so far in the investigation for the political trial of President Donald Trump was expected on Tuesday: that of the European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland.
However, early in the morning, the State Department ordered Sondland "not to appear today for his scheduled interview before the joint House of Representatives committee," said Sondland's lawyer, Robert Luskin.
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Sondland is the US ambassador to the European Union, although he came to office without having a diplomatic career. Before being named by Trump, Sondland had donated a million dollars to the president's inauguration fund, according to The Washington Post, and had a career building hotels similar to Trump's.
"Are we now saying that security assistance and the meeting with the White House are conditioned on investigations?" Taylor wrote in a text message to Sondland in early September. To which Dondland replied: "Call me."
A week later, Taylor sent a text message to Sondland: "As I said on the phone, I think it is crazy to retain security assistance to help with a political campaign."
Almost five hours later, Sondland responds in a much more formal way and tells him that Trump "has been clear that there should be no quid pro quo of any kind." Sources familiar with the issue within the White House told CNN that in those five hours Sondland called the president directly and he said there should not be a quid pro quo, that is, an exchange or transaction.
"The president is trying to assess whether Ukraine is really going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign," Sondland continued. "I suggest we stop this exchange by text message."
The Democrats leading the impeachment investigation were eager to ask the ambassador what had happened in those five hours, with whom he had spoken, why he did not want to continue speaking via text message, among other questions.
But a White House order prevented it, which frustrated Congress's function of supervising the Executive, something that Democratic representatives say is a violation of the Constitution. Can the presidency do that?
Trump himself tweeted about blocking Sondland's testimony, questioning the legitimacy of the process.
"I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a very good man and a great American, to testify, but unfortunately I would be testifying before a totally compromised illegitimate court, where Republican rights have been taken away, and the true facts have not been done. public …. "
How did the Democrats react?
"We believe that this interference is an obstruction to the investigation of political judgment," they said in a joint statement the representatives Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel, the three Democrats leading the investigation.
The president of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi told reporters from Seattle on Tuesday that this was an example of abuse of power.
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