Published: Fri, October 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Longtime U.S. ambassador arrives to testify about Ukraine before House committees

Longtime U.S. ambassador arrives to testify about Ukraine before House committees

They go on to say Sondland has no agenda and will answer questions fully and truthfully. Schiff is chair of the House's intelligence committee, which is spearheading the probe.

"Notwithstanding the State Department's current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honour the Committees' subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday", Sondland's lawyer Robert Luskin said.

Ten Democratic senators on October 10 sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding an explanation for Yovanovitch's removal before the end of her scheduled three-year assignment.

The former US ambassador to Ukraine was removed from her post after insisting that Rudy Giuliani's requests to Ukrainian officials for investigations be relayed through official channels, according to a former diplomat who has spoken with her.

The pledge from White House lawyer Pat Cipollone came hours after the administration blocked another key witness, the USA ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, from testifying to congressional panels. An indictment filed in the case alleged that the men, who were raising campaign funds for a US congressman, asked him for help in removing Yovanovitch, at least partly at the request of Ukrainian government officials.

"Ambassador Sondland does not control the disposition of his documents".

Yovanovitch was accused of impeding a Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens - an allegation the State Department said at the time was "outright fabrication".

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The Democratic lawmakers leading the inquiry were waiting to see if Yovanovitch showed up after the White House said earlier in the week it would refuse to co-operate with an inquiry that the Republican president has termed "a kangaroo court".

Marie Yovanovitch, who remains a State Department employee, was scheduled to be deposed behind closed doors by the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees.

But Sondland is not authorized to release the documents the House committees have sought, his lawyers said, adding that he hopes the material will be shared with the committees before his appearance.

Sondland participated in text messages about Washington's relationship with Ukraine with other top diplomats.

Democrats believe President Donald Trump abused his powers by withholding military aid in exchange for a political favor from a foreign power to interfere in USA elections.

Yovanovitch has led USA embassies in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia and is now a State Department fellow at Georgetown University. In a statement quoted by Politico, he said his motivation in urging the removal of Yovanovitch was his belief that "political appointees should not be disparaging the president, especially while serving overseas". Mr. Sondland is also a central figure in Democrats' investigation into Mr. Trump's interactions with Ukraine.

Mr. Trump, in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, called her "bad news" and said "she's going to go through some things", according to a rough transcript released by the White House.

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