US Ambassador to E.U. directed not to testify in impeachment probe

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Donald Trump, Gordon Sondland

FILE – In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump is joined by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, second from right, as he arrives at Melsbroek Air Base, in Brussels, Belgium. According to text messages released the first week of October 2019 by House investigators, Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, discussed Trump wanting to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Trump’s Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his family. The House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to meet in private with Sondland. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – An attorney for Ambassador Gordon Sondland says the State Department has directed Sondland not to appear for his scheduled interview before a joint House committee taking depositions in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump.

Sondland is wrapped up in the congressional impeachment inquiry and had previously agreed to appear voluntarily Tuesday to answer the committee’s questions in a closed session.

Sondland attorney Robert Luskin says that as the sitting U.S. ambassador to the European Union and an employee of the State Department, Sondland is required to follow the department’s direction. No reason for the direction was cited, he said.

Luskin says Sondland “is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify.”

Luskin says Sondland “believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States.”

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