Monday, 21 October, 2019

USA envoy to testify in impeachment probe, against State Dept order

Former ambassador to testify at inquiry into Trump Former Ukraine envoy scheduled to testify in Trump impeachment probe
Patty Aguilar | 11 October, 2019, 18:45

"Notwithstanding the state department's current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the committee's subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday", he said Friday morning in a written statement.

The House had scheduled Sondland to testify this past Tuesday, but the State Department chose to block the move, before a letter from the Trump administration told the House it won't cooperate with the "unconstitutional" impeachment inquiry.

At a rally in Minnesota last night, Mr Trump said the investigation was a brazen attempt to overthrow the Government and would result in a political backlash against Democrats at the ballot box.

The career diplomat was recalled from her post in May after criticism from some Republicans, including Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, that she was not supportive of the administration's policies.

In a July 25 call, Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Yovanovitch was "bad news", according to a partial transcript released by the White House. Schiff is chair of the House's intelligence committee, which is spearheading the probe. Sessions is not named in the indictment, but is believed to be "Congressman 1", who is tied to the duo's efforts to oust Yovanovitch from the State Department. According to the Texas Observer, Sessions reportedly believes he was approached by the two because of his role as chair of the Turkey caucus.

House Democrats have requested a deposition from Bill Taylor, the top USA diplomat in Ukraine, as part of their impeachment inquiry, but his interview has not yet been formally scheduled, multiple sources familiar with the issue told CNN.

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ABC News has repeatedly asked the State Department for comment on Yovanovitch's planned appearance.

President Trump and Gordon Sondland, the USA ambassador to the European Union, second from right, at Melsbroek Air Base in Brussels, July 10, 2018.

Sondland, a Trump political donor who contributed $1 million U.S. to the Republican president's inauguration committee, exchanged text messages about Washington's relationship with Ukraine with other top diplomats. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind.

On Thursday, two foreign-born Florida businessmen who had helped Giuliani investigate Biden were arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other US political candidates.

The investigation of Trump could lead to the approval of articles of impeachment - or formal charges - against the president in the House.

A top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has resigned, The Washington Post reported.

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