The Trump administration on Tuesday blocked the testimony of a top U.S. diplomat who had been expected to speak with congressional committees that are conducting an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union (EU), had been scheduled to meet with the committees behind closed doors Tuesday morning to answer questions about his role in the administration’s dealings with Ukraine.
Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the committee was informed by Mr Sondland’s attorney that the State Department had refused to allow him to testify.
Mr Schiff said as a result Congress and the American people are being “deprived of his testimony,” adding that the committee is aware that Mr Sondland has turned over text messages to the department that he said are “deeply relevant” to the investigation and impeachment inquiry.
Mr Trump also tweeted about Sondland appearing before the committees, saying he would like to let him speak but the committees are a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”
House lawmakers have issued subpoenas for the Department of Defence and the White House budget office, demanding documents related to U.S. relations with Ukraine.
Democrats in the House of Representatives had previously issued subpeones for the White House, including top administration officials.
The lawmakers say failure to comply may be seen as obstruction.
The investigation is focusing on whether Trump endangered U.S. national security by seeking foreign interference in the upcoming U.S. elections and withholding military aid to Ukraine.