U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said Wednesday the White House and the State Department refused to provide documents he’d requested for his testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, a refusal Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) characterized as “unprecedented obstruction.”
In his opening statement, Sondland said he’d been barred access to his phone records, State Department emails, “and other State Department documents” that would have helped him reconstruct “with whom I spoke and met, when, and what was said.”
“My lawyers and I have made multiple requests to the State Department and the White House for these materials,” Sondland said. “Yet, these materials were not provided to me. They have also refused to share these materials with this committee. These documents are not classified and, in fairness, should have been made available.”
Schiff emphasized the point to reporters during a recess:
“We now can see ... just why Secretary Pompeo and President Donald Trump do not want any of these documents provided to Congress,” Schiff said, referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Because apparently they show ― as Ambassador Sondland has testified ― that the knowledge of this scheme ... was conditioned on political favors the president wanted for his reelection.”
Schiff also cast Sondland’s testimony as “the most significant evidence to date” of “a basic quid pro quo.” Trump, according to Sondland, was pressing Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son at a time when the U.S. was withholding military aid to the country.
“It was the conditioning of official acts for something of great value,” said Schiff, “right to the heart of the issue of bribery.”
The White House attempted to counter via tweet, portraying Schiff’s press conference as a “hoax” and a bid for attention. Notably, the White House statement didn’t address the actual substance of anything Schiff or Sondland said.
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