WASHINGTON – Days after being blocked by the Trump administration from testifying before congressional committees conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland says that he will testify on Thursday.
In a statement sent through his attorneys, Sondland said he "looks forward to testifying on Thursday."
"Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday," wrote his attorneys. "Ambassador Sondland has at all times acted with integrity and in the interests of the United States. He has no agenda apart from answering the Committees’ questions fully and truthfully."
On Tuesday morning, shortly before Sondland was scheduled to appear before a trio of committees, the State Department instructed him not to appear.
Trump tweeted to say he did not want Sondland to go before a "kangaroo court."
Later that day, The House Oversight, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs Committees issued a subpoena for Sondland's testimony and documents relating to the impeachment investigation
Congressional investigators believe Sondland has messages on his personal devices that could shed light on Trump's pressuring of the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, an instance that has sparked an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
"The ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device, which have been provided to the State Department," Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Tuesday. "The State Department is withholding those messages."
Sondland, a major Trump donor turned diplomat, has been placed at the center of the controversy around Ukraine because of text messages released as part of former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker's testimony.
"Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?" Top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor asked in a text message to Volker and Sondland on Sept. 1.
"Call me," Sondland texted back.
Taylor responded: "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
Sondland said Trump had been "crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind ... I suggest we stop the back and forth by text." He told Taylor to call "S," presumably referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, if he wanted to discuss the matter further.
In an Oct. 4 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said Sondland had told him the release of military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on the opening of investigations by Ukraine.
“At that suggestion, I winced,” Mr. Johnson said to the Wall Street Journal. “My reaction was: Oh, God. I don’t want to see those two things combined.”
Contributing: Christal Hayes, Deirdre Shesgreen
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gordon Sondland, key impeachment witness, to testify before Congress