WASHINGTON — 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.