The White House on Tuesday prevented a senior US diplomat from testifying in Congress in the context of the political trial investigation of President Donald Trump, increasing tension between the Democrats who control the lower house and the Republican Executive.
The president, accused of pressuring Ukraine to obtain incriminating information about former Vice President Joe Biden, the candidate best positioned to challenge him to re-election in 2020, defended the decision to block the appearance of his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, involved in the plot of messages between Washington and Kiev. According to Trump, the opposition is conducting a biased investigation.
“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and a great American, to give his testimony, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally partial court,” he tweeted, using the expression “kangaroo court,” used to refer to a justice that does not fulfill ethical obligations.RELATED
Sondland had voluntarily agreed to give his testimony in the investigation, said his lawyer, Robert Luskin.
However, "early this morning, the US State Department (ordered) him not to appear today for his scheduled statement before the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives," Luskin said in a statement, noting that his client traveled especially from Brussels to This appearance. “Ambassador Sondland hopes that the problems raised by the State Department that prevent his testimony will be resolved quickly. He is ready to testify in the short term, as long as he is allowed, ”he added.
The president of the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, Adam Schiff, one of the Democrats leading the investigation, told reporters that "the fact of not presenting this witness" provides "even more compelling evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of the Congress".
Sondland, a rich hotel entrepreneur and a major donor of the Trump campaign and investiture ceremony, is involved in a chain of text messages delivered to Congress last week by former US special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker. While Ukraine is not part of the EU, Trump told Sondland to take charge of the links between his Government and that of Kiev.
According to exchanges of electronic messages between Sondland and other US diplomats in Ukraine, some senior officials of the State Department expressed concern that Trump could have withheld $ 391 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure the government of that country to investigate to Biden. The exchanges between these diplomats, Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and a Ukrainian presidential assistant made evident the efforts of the Trump administration to pressure Kiev.
The messages discuss an eventual meeting in the White House between Trump and the new president Volodimir Zelenski of Ukraine in exchange for examining possible irregularities of the Biden.
"We know that Ambassador Sondland has been a key player in the effort to achieve Ukraine's commitment to investigate a fallacious conspiracy theory regarding the (presidential) elections of 2016, as well as Joe Biden and his son," Schiff said. .
With information from AFP and EFE