President Trump endless parade of bad news continued today with the revelation that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland has agreed to testify next week as requested by House committees, flouting a demand from the State Department that he refuse to do so.
Sondland was originally supposed to give the closed-door testimony this week before the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight committees but the Trump administration interceded to block the Congressional interview in what can only be described as an incredibly suspicious, obstructive move. The Democratic chairman of the committees responded by hitting Sondland with a subpoena, which appears to have done the trick. Sondland is now slated to reveal what he knows to the committees on October 17th.
“Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday,” said Sondland’s attorneys, reports NBC News. The lawyers also stated that Sondland will not be delivering a cache of requested documents to the committees on the ground that they belong to the State Department and as such Sondland has no legal right to produce them.
Sondland’s testimony is eagerly sought after by Democrats trying to untangle the Gordian Knot of corruption that is Trump’s Ukraine scandal. As revealed by the phone call transcript released by the White House in the wake of an explosive whistleblower complaint, President Trump sought to leverage the Oval Office to coerce a “favor ” out of Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky namely, the opening of an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the 2020 election.
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani was engaged in some manner of backroom conversations in Ukraine and he has revealed that Sondland and now-resigned Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker were two of his point people at the State Department.
Text messages between Sondland and another ambassador were handed over by Volker and show that the former two were trying to convince the Ukrainian government to come out with a public announcement that they’d be opening investigations into President Trump’s political enemies. Shockingly, they show that such an investigation was explicitly tied to the possibility of a White House visit invite for Zelensky. Giuliani and a Zelensky aide were involved in the underhanded discussions.
Clearly, Congress must find out precisely what Sondland knows and what he did on behalf of the Trump administration. It increasingly looks like he and his associates were engaged in a historically expansive operation to abuse the powers of the state to undermine an American election. If so, not only must the president be impeached, people need to go to prison. Our Republic will not survive if this kind of behavior goes unchecked.
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This is a staff report from former Occupy Democrats Editor in Chief Colin Taylor or contributor Rob Haffney.