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Sondland intends to testify next week under subpoena

Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, finds himself in the center of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry after the State Department blocked him from appearing before three congressional committees. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty)

US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland intends to testify to the House under subpoena next week, according to a statement from his lawyer.

Sondland, who is a key witness in the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct surrounding a July phone call with the Ukrainian president, planned to voluntarily appear on the Hill earlier this week, but his testimony was derailed that morning when the State Department blocked him from testifying.

House Democrats issued a subpoena Tuesday evening demanding Sondland turn over documents and appear for a deposition next week.

Sondland will appear on Thursday, Oct. 17, and “looks forward to testifying,” his lawyer, Robert Luskin, said in a statement Friday.

The White House told House Democrats in a letter Tuesday that the President and his administration would not cooperate in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, arguing the proceedings amount to an illegitimate effort to overturn the 2016 election results.

As of Friday morning, Sondland hasn’t received guidance from the State Department on whether he should appear under subpoena, the person said.

The State Department has not responded to CNN’s repeated requests about Sondland’s subpoena.

Sondland was set to testify behind closed doors before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. Lawmakers were eager to press him about text messages he exchanged related to Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the freezing of foreign aid to Ukraine.

In text messages provided by former US special envoy Kurt Volker to Congress last week, US Ambassador to Ukraine William “Bill” Taylor repeatedly questioned the decision to stall hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine as a potential quid pro quo and raised concerns about the impact on broader regional policy.

Sondland replied to Taylor saying that the diplomat was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions.”

“The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign,” Sondland wrote in his text to Taylor.

A source told CNN that Sondland had called the President after Taylor raised concerns and that Trump emphatically told him there had been no quid pro quo in his conversation with Zelensky.

 

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