Gordon Sondland will not testify in impeachment inquiry

President Donald Trump during the Presidential Social Media Summit in the East Room of the White House

President Donald Trump during the Presidential Social Media Summit in the East Room of the White House

Within days of news that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden, support for impeachment among House Democrats jumped from a slim majority, with approximately 160 members in favor just two weeks ago, to over 220.

The White House letter to Pelosi, Schiff and other House committee chairmen, though asserting a legal argument that Trump and other officials can not cooperate, would not be likely to win respect in court, said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday said President Trump is "obstructing Congress from getting the facts" it needs in the impeachment inquiry after his administration blocked a USA diplomat from testifying before three committees.

Elsewhere in Washington, a federal judge heard arguments Tuesday in a separate case on whether the House has actually undertaken a formal impeachment inquiry despite not having taken a vote and whether the inquiry can be characterized, under the law, as a "judicial proceeding".

"Mr. President, you are not above the law", Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday night.

Progressive activists have been credited for keeping the heat on lawmakers to hold Trump accountable for his misconduct, and advocacy groups are continuing to mobilize to ensure House Democrats follow through with their inquiry.

Cipollone also accused Congress of threatening executive branch officials with punishment for exercising "fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives".

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Going along with the inquiry under its "current unconstitutional posture" would "inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers", the letter said, adding that Democrats have "left the president no choice" but to refuse to cooperate.

That means no additional witnesses under administration purview will be permitted to appear in front of Congress or comply with document requests, a senior official said.

The chairmen said that they have obtained some WhatsApp messages provided by former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, who testified before the committees last week, "showing that [Sondland was] directly involved in efforts to press Ukraine to announce publicly that it was pursuing investigations desired by President Donald Trump into the "2016 election" and 'Burisma, '" referring to a Ukrainian energy company in which Hunter Biden served on the board.

- House Democrats subpoenaed ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland after he was blocked from meeting with congressional investigators.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, is scheduled to make a public statement on the Trump Administration's move to block Sondland's testimony later this morning.

When pressed about the allegations in a Friday interview, Warren told the Wall Street Journal, "I know that everyone wants to try to drag in other people".

You have denied the President the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.

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