clearn.png
Friday October 18th, 2019 5:08AM

Trump escalates impeachment fight, barring envoy's testimony

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Escalating his fight against Congress' impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump flouted Democratic warnings about impeachable conduct Tuesday in blocking a U.S. diplomat from testifying about Trump's dealings with Ukraine. House committee chairmen quickly issued a subpoena to force the envoy to appear before the House next week and produce documents recovered from his personal devices.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, was barred by the administration from appearing in a closed-door session with three House panels investigating Trump's entreaties to Ukraine. His attorney said Sondland, who had agreed to the interview without a subpoena, was "profoundly disappointed" to be prevented from testifying.

Sondland was to have been asked about text messages released last week that show him and two other U.S. diplomats acting as intermediaries as Trump urged Ukraine to investigate the 2016 U.S. election and a gas company linked to Democrat Joe Biden's son. Sondland also spoke directly to Trump hours before sending a text message assuring another U.S. envoy that there was nothing untoward about their plans, according to a person familiar with the exchange who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the conversation.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Sondland's no-show was "yet additional strong evidence" of obstruction of Congress by Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sondland's boss.

"By preventing us from hearing from this witness and obtaining these documents, the president and secretary of state are taking actions that prevent us from getting the facts needed to protect the nation's security," said Schiff, D-Calif. "For this impeachment inquiry we are determined to find answers."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Schiff's comments at an event in Seattle, saying it was an "abuse of power" for Trump to thwart witness testimony.

Democrats believe that Sondland, who donated $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, could provide valuable information. He spoke to Trump in September as diplomats raised questions about why hundreds of millions in security aid to Ukraine was being withheld. After the call, Sondland assured another diplomat in a text message that there were "no quid pro quo's of any kind" with Ukraine.

Schiff, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings issued a subpoena late Tuesday demanding that Sondland testify Oct. 16 and provide documents, including additional communications on a personal device that he has turned over to the State Department. Schiff said the department is withholding those communications from Congress.

Sondland's absence on Tuesday raised questions about whether other witnesses called by the committee would appear. Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from the post, is scheduled to testify Friday, and the committee has called two other State Department officials.

Trump indicated Tuesday that it was his decision to stop the deposition, tweeting that he would "love to send Ambassador Sondland" to testify, "but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court."

Democrats have struggled to investigate Trump and his administration all year as the White House has blocked and ignored subpoenas for documents and testimony. While the Democrats are already in court to force some of that evidence, they are making it clear that they do not intend to wait much longer. Articles of impeachment, including for obstruction, could be drafted by the end of the year.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Schiff laid out four parameters of the committee's investigation. He said the panel is probing whether Trump solicited foreign help from Ukraine for his 2020 reelection; whether a never-realized White House meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Trump was conditioned on Ukraine conducting investigations; whether U.S. military assistance to Ukraine was conditioned on those investigations; and whether the administration has obstructed justice.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said Tuesday that Trump was simply "doing his job" to prevent corruption in Ukraine. He and other Republicans attacked Schiff for leading what they called an unfair, partisan inquiry.

Across the Capitol, Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham — one of Trump's staunchest defenders — said he would call the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to testify about corruption in Ukraine. Giuliani was communicating with Zelenskiy about the investigations that Trump wanted.

"Given the House of Representatives' behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine," Graham said in a tweet.

Giuliani said he was "very interested" in the invitation but would need to review matters of executive privilege and attorney-client privilege before committing to appear.

House Democrats have subpoenaed Giuliani for documents, but Giuliani said he would not cooperate with them.

Text messages released by House Democrats last week show Sondland worked with another of Trump's diplomats, former Ukrainian envoy Kurt Volker, to get Ukraine to agree to investigate any potential interference in the 2016 U.S. election and to probe the Ukrainian energy company that appointed Biden's son Hunter to its board.

There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.

___

Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Matthew Daly and Brian Slodysko in Washington, Lorne Cook in Brussels, Gene Johnson in Seattle and Andrew Selsky in Portland, Ore., contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Are we alone? Nobel Prize goes to 3 who tackled cosmic query
The Nobel Prize in Physics goes to three scientists for tackling some of the most basic questions in the cosmos and humanity: How did we get here, and are we alone?
5:10PM ( 10 minutes ago )
US bars Chinese officials for crackdown on Muslim minorities
The Trump administration is slapping travel bans on Chinese officials involved in a massive crackdown against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in its west
5:08PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Powell sees cooler US hiring in possible hint of rate cuts
Fed Chair Powell sees cooler US job market after data changes
5:04PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Couple get month sentence in college bribery scandal
A business executive and his wife have been sentenced to a month each in prison for paying $125,000 to rig their daughter's college entrance exams
4:51PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Wisconsin GOP to let disabled Democratic lawmaker call in
A paralyzed Wisconsin lawmaker would be allowed to call into committee meetings he can't attend in person under rule changes Republicans unveiled that are designed to meet demands the Democrat made nearly a year ago
4:49PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Trump shifts tone on Turkey in effort to halt Syria invasion
President Donald Trump has moved from threatening to obliterate Turkey's economy if it invades Syria to inviting its president to visit the White House
3:55PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Legos lying around? Toy maker tests way to recycle bricks
Lego, looking to keep its plastic bricks out of the trash, is testing a way for customers to ship their pieces away and get them into the hands of other kids
2:40PM ( 2 hours ago )
Profit, not politics: Trump allies sought Ukraine gas deal
A circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted their connections to Trump and Giuliani as they sought to install new management at the top of Ukraine's state-owned gas company
2:38PM ( 2 hours ago )
US pullback could boost Islamic State group revival in Syria
The Islamic State group could get a new injection of life if conflict erupts between the Kurds and Turkey in northeast Syria as the U.S. pulls its troops back from the area
2:18PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
House pushes for release of Mueller grand jury testimony
Lawyers for House Democrats are urging a judge to release secret grand jury testimony to them as Congress begins an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump
3:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
Teens share experiences with vaping with Melania Trump
Melania Trump will hear directly from teens and young adults about their experiences with electronic cigarettes and vaping
3:05PM ( 2 hours ago )
Biden plan: Free community college, expanded loan programs
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden proposes higher education policies that would make community and technical college free and federal college loan programs more generous
2:35PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Classified briefing on Syria set for Hill staff
The Trump administration will hold a classified briefing on Syria for House and Senate staff Tuesday afternoon, according to congressional aide familiar with the meeting
1:26PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: EU Parliament's Brexit chief slams no-deal aim
The European Parliament's chief Brexit official is warning proponents of a no-deal divorce in Britain that the thorny issues that have hobbled discussions won't miraculously go away.
12:44PM ( 4 hours ago )
Supreme Court takes up cases about LGBT people's rights
A highly anticipated Supreme Court case on the job rights of gay and lesbian employees prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to speculate on the implications of expanding the law to cover sexual orientation.
12:23PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Are we alone? Nobel Prize goes to 3 who tackled cosmic query
The Nobel Prize in Physics goes to three scientists for tackling some of the most basic questions in the cosmos and humanity: How did we get here, and are we alone?
5:10PM ( 11 minutes ago )
US bars Chinese officials for crackdown on Muslim minorities
The Trump administration is slapping travel bans on Chinese officials involved in a massive crackdown against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in its west
5:08PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Powell sees cooler US hiring in possible hint of rate cuts
Fed Chair Powell sees cooler US job market after data changes
5:04PM ( 17 minutes ago )
'Big Bang Theory' gets shout out to Nobel Prize announcement
American sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" entered Nobel Prize history when its theme song got a mention at the announcement of the winners of the physics prize
5:02PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Killer's lifetime of evil backed up by a prodigious memory
Serial killer Samuel Little's depravity is matched only by his prodigious memory
5:02PM ( 18 minutes ago )