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Wednesday July 15th, 2020 3:40AM

The Latest: Schiff cites 'strong evidence of obstruction'

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on envoy Gordon Sondland's scheduled testimony on Capitol Hill (all times local):

9:55 a.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says the failure of a State Department official to show up at a deposition Tuesday as part of House Democrats' impeachment investigation is "yet additional strong evidence" of obstruction of Congress.

The Trump administration barred Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, from closed-door testimony as several committees are investigating President Donald Trump's dealings with the president of Ukraine.

Text messages released last week revealed conversations between Sondland and other U.S. diplomats who were intermediaries as Trump urged Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden's family and the 2016 election.

Schiff and other Democrats have said that they will consider such obstruction if they draft articles of impeachment against the president.

___

9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he'd "love" to send Ambassador Gordon Sondland to testify before Congress but doing so would put him before "a totally compromised kangaroo court."

An attorney for Sondland says the State Department directed his client not to appear for a scheduled interview Tuesday before a joint House committee taking depositions in the impeachment probe of the Republican president.

Trump says in a tweet the "true facts are not allowed out for the public."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY'-oh) has ignored a shouted question about Sondland during a photo op with the visiting foreign minister of Estonia.

House Democrats are looking into Trump's handling of U.S. relations with Ukraine and his desire for Ukraine to investigate potential Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden. Trump has denied doing anything wrong.

___

8:25 a.m.

An attorney for Ambassador Gordon Sondland says the State Department has directed Sondland not to appear for his scheduled interview before a joint House committee taking depositions in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump.

Sondland is wrapped up in the congressional impeachment inquiry and had previously agreed to appear voluntarily Tuesday to answer the committee's questions in a closed session.

Sondland attorney Robert Luskin says that as the sitting U.S. ambassador to the European Union and an employee of the State Department, Sondland is required to follow the department's direction. No reason for the direction was cited, he said.

Luskin says Sondland "is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify."

Luskin says Sondland "believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States."

___

12:10 a.m.

An envoy wrapped up in a congressional impeachment inquiry was a late convert to President Donald Trump, initially supporting another candidate in the Republican primary and once refusing to participate in a fundraiser on his behalf.

But Gordon Sondland nonetheless donated $1 million to Trump's election effort and ultimately scored a plum post as U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Now, a whistleblower's complaint and text messages released by another envoy portray Sondland as a potentially important witness to allegations the Republican president sought to dig up dirt on rival Joe Biden in the name of foreign policy.

On Tuesday, Sondland is scheduled to head to Capitol Hill to face questions about the episode.

Until last week, Sondland was far better known in his home state of Washington than in the nation's capital.

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