House Republicans Ask Trump Not to Blindside Them on Impeachment Moves

October 9, 2019by Josh Wingrove and Billy House

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump blindsided key Republican allies on Tuesday when the White House blocked a diplomat’s testimony in the House impeachment probe, and the lawmakers later asked the president to make sure it doesn’t happen again, according to people familiar with the matter.

Frustrated that they didn’t get a heads-up that Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, would be prevented from appearing on Tuesday, a handful of GOP lawmakers went to the White House to discuss the issue with Trump and senior advisers, one of the people said.

In response, White House officials agreed to improve communication of their impeachment strategy with allies who are on the front lines, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private conversations between Trump and the lawmakers.

The impromptu huddle highlights the risks of Trump’s vigorous but improvised self-defense against the impeachment inquiry Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced two weeks ago. While many Republicans, especially in the House, are anxious to defend the president, they could step into political danger if they’re caught off guard by Trump’s actions.

Among the lawmakers identified as meeting with Trump on Tuesday were Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lee Zeldin of New York and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Before heading to the White House, the group spoke with reporters outside the congressional offices where Sondland was supposed to testify.

Those Republican lawmakers, like their Democratic counterparts, had been awaiting Sondland’s arrival Tuesday morning at the Capitol for a deposition before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees.

But less than an hour before the testimony was to begin, Robert Luskin, the attorney representing the ambassador, informed the committees that the State Department instructed his client not to appear. Republicans got that information from news reports.

Jordan, who is the senior Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee, expressed regret that the panels wouldn’t hear from Sondland on Tuesday. But he said he understands why the State Department blocked the deposition “based on the unfair and partisan process” he said Democrats are running.

“Look, we were actually looking forward to hearing from Ambassador Sondland,” Jordan said. “We thought he was going to reinforce what Ambassador Volker told us last week,” that there was no quid pro quo for the Trump administration’s demands of the Ukrainian government.

Sondland, a hotel executive who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, came under increased scrutiny last week after Volker turned over text messages in his closed deposition, which showed Sondland seeking to encourage Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

His lawyer said he had been planning to testify voluntarily. Democrats who head those panels say they will now subpoena Sondland to appear for a closed-door deposition.

House Republican are holding almost daily strategy sessions led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to combat the Democratic impeachment effort. Tuesday’s episode was the latest in what some Republicans have complained is the less-than-tight coordination between the White House and Trump’s Republican defenders in Congress.

Pelosi defended the work of Democratic-led committees and warned of the consequences if the Trump administration continues to stonewall the investigation.

“As President Trump is obstructing justice, abusing power and diminishing the office of the presidency, we have a responsibility to strengthen the institution in which we serve,” Pelosi said Tuesday in a letter to colleagues. “This is essential if we are to honor the separation of powers which is the genius of the Constitution.”


Erik Wasson contributed to this report.


©2019 Bloomberg News

Visit Bloomberg News at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Democrats’ Hope for Quick Impeachment is Looking a Bit More Complicated Impeachment
Democrats’ Hope for Quick Impeachment is Looking a Bit More Complicated

WASHINGTON — House Democrats’ hopes for a short and focused impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump are being put to the test by a string of new leads that could lengthen their investigation, as well as by some moderate Democrats who remain skeptical about whether the... Read More

Mulvaney Says Trump Held Aid to Prod Ukraine Impeachment
Mulvaney Says Trump Held Aid to Prod Ukraine

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump withheld roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine earlier this year in part to pressure its new government to investigate Democrats, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Thursday, a stunning confirmation that hits directly at the center of... Read More

Pelosi Considers, Then Rejects Holding House Vote on Impeachment Inquiry In The News
Pelosi Considers, Then Rejects Holding House Vote on Impeachment Inquiry

WASHINGTON — Amid growing political pressure from Republicans, House leaders on Tuesday began seriously gauging support among Democrats for holding a vote to formally establish the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump — even through the inquiry is already underway. But by the end of the... Read More

Schiff Says Secret Testimony Aimed at Keeping Trump in The Dark Impeachment
Schiff Says Secret Testimony Aimed at Keeping Trump in The Dark

WASHINGTON — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff defended holding testimony behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry he’s heading up against President Donald Trump, likening this phase of the investigation to a “grand jury.” “We want to make sure that we meet the needs of... Read More

Two Giuliani Associates Subpoenaed in House Impeachment Inquiry Impeachment
Two Giuliani Associates Subpoenaed in House Impeachment Inquiry
October 10, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Two Russian-born associates of President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, were subpoenaed in the House impeachment inquiry just hours after their arrests on campaign finance charges. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman have been tied to efforts by Giuliani to get Ukraine to investigate... Read More

Italy’s Spy Chief Met Twice With Barr to Aid Inquiry: Repubblica Foreign Affairs
Italy’s Spy Chief Met Twice With Barr to Aid Inquiry: Repubblica

ROME — Italy’s spy chief Gennaro Vecchione met twice in August with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and prosecutor John Durham to help an investigation into the scandal involving President Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia, one of Italy’s leading newspapers reported. The first meeting took... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top