TEHRAN (Iran News) – The State Department barred Gordon Sondland, the US European Union ambassador, from appearing Tuesday before a House panel conducting the impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump, his lawyer said. Attorney Robert Luskin said his client was “profoundly disappointed” that he wouldn’t be able to testify in impeachment hearing, Iran News quotes […]
TEHRAN (Iran News) – The State Department barred Gordon Sondland, the US European Union ambassador, from appearing Tuesday before a House panel conducting the impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump, his lawyer said.
Attorney Robert Luskin said his client was “profoundly disappointed” that he wouldn’t be able to testify in impeachment hearing, Iran News quotes what AP reported.
Luskin did not give a reason, and the State Department had no immediate comment.
A whistleblower’s complaint and text messages released by another envoy portray Sondland as a potentially important witness to allegations that the Republican president sought to dig up dirt on a Democratic rival in the name of foreign policy.
On Tuesday, Sondland had been scheduled to face questions about the episode, the second time in as many weeks that lawmakers would have privately interviewed an ambassador about the president’s push to get Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Until last week, Sondland was far better known in his home state of Washington than in the nation’s capital, where he finds himself embroiled in an impeachment inquiry centered on a July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president. But even if not accustomed to the global spotlight, the wealthy hotelier, philanthropist and contributor to political campaigns has long been comfortable around the well-connected on both sides of the political aisle.
“He very much enjoyed having personal relationships with those in power,” said David Nierenberg, a Washington state investment adviser who has known Sondland for years. “Some people collect books. Some people collect cars. He collected those relationships.”
Text messages released by House Democrats show Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, working with another of Trump’s envoys to get Ukraine to agree to investigate any potential interference in the 2016 US election and also probe the energy company that appointed Biden’s son Hunter to its board. In exchange, the American officials dangled the offer of a Washington meeting with Trump for Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.
The messages also show Sondland trying to reassure a third diplomat that their actions were appropriate, but that they should take precautions by limiting their text messages.
“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 Zelenskiy promise during his campaign,” he wrote, adding, “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”
Like the president who picked him, Sondland cut an unconventional path to becoming a Washington power broker.
“Mr. Trump’s statements have made it clear that his positions do not align with their personal beliefs and values,” Buska told the publication. “Neither of them will be hosting or attending any fundraisers for the Trump campaign in Seattle or Portland.” Buska did not return a call Monday from The Associated Press.
Nierenberg, who recalled Sondland working with him to promote Bush’s presidential campaign, said he was perplexed to learn that Sondland had contributed to Trump’s inaugural committee but suspected that it might have had something to do with an ambition to get an ambassadorship.
“I’m profoundly troubled by something that is a lot bigger than Gordon’s text messages,” he said. “People who try to help the president wind up being thrown under the bus and soiled by their association with a person who is so profoundly narcissistic and ungrateful. Many good people have been hurt by their association with him. I’m saddened to see this happening to Gordon, as it happened to so many people before him.”
In his role as the Trump administration’s representative to the EU, Sondland has articulated the president’s agenda through forthright, occasionally abrasive statements.
Len Bergstein, a Portland, Oregon, political consultant who had worked with Sondland, described him as “a self-made man who had gotten where he was by putting together complex deals.” But he said he remained puzzled about how and why Sondland became entangled in the Ukraine matter and not being in impeachment hearing session.
The arc of Gordon’s story is of a guy who’s tremendously successful in everything he touches, reaches for the stars here, and gets in the middle of a little bit of a scandal,” Bergstein said.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews