Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a key witness, was scheduled to testify today as part of the impeachment inquiry. However, he was ordered not to appear:
I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2019
The House Intelligence Chairman, Adam Schiff, calls this decision “strong evidence of obstruction” saying it deprives the American people of Sondland’s testimony.
NEW: After State Dept. bars key witness from testifying in House probe, House Intel Chair Adam Schiff says, "We're also aware the ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device…and the State Department is withholding those messages as well." https://t.co/5ZHA3qhSu6 pic.twitter.com/Ksef3HclWn
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 8, 2019
At least some of the texts that Schiff is referring to have been floating around online for at least a week. They record an exchange between Ambassador Sondland and Bill Taylor, an American diplomat. Taylor expresses his concern for withholding “security assistance for help with a political campaign.
This is quite the exchange:
Taylor: "As I said on the phone, **I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.**"
Sondland: No, you're incorrect… Trump doesn't want a quid pro quo… "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text." pic.twitter.com/9pIsMCejer
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 4, 2019
Democrats warned Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, last month that the “failure of any of these Department employees to appear for their scheduled depositions shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
It is likely this is only the beginning.