What is a crooked congressman
The administration of US President Donald Trump has blocked the testimony of a top diplomat in the Ukraine affair. The US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, had been summoned for a hearing in Congress this Tuesday.
Trump defended the decision on Tuesday on Twitter: He would like to send Sondland, but he would testify in a "completely corrupt court" that had robbed the Republicans of their rights and where true facts are not available to the public. The Democrats responded with harsh criticism.
Sondland is a "central witness" in the clarification of the allegations against Trump, said the chairman of the intelligence committee, the Democrat Adam Schiff. The State Department also withheld text messages or e-mails from Sondland.
The refusal to testify and the documents would be seen as "further strong evidence of the obstruction of the constitutional tasks of the Congress". Trump accuses Schiff of being biased and has repeatedly called for his resignation.
Alleged abuse of office
The Democrats in the US House of Representatives are investigating possible impeachment proceedings against the Republican. Trump is accused of abusing the power of his office to get a foreign government to meddle in the election campaign on his behalf.
Schiff criticized Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo preventing congressmen from researching the facts necessary to protect national security.
Trump had encouraged the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj in a phone call at the end of July to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Biden is running for the Democratic presidential candidacy in the 2020 election, which Trump is also running.
The content of the conversation with Zelenskyi came to light after an anonymous intelligence officer lodged a complaint with an internal control body. According to the Democrats, Trump used temporarily blocked military aid as leverage.
"Ambassador Sondland is deeply disappointed that he will not be able to testify today," said Sondland's lawyer Robert Luskin. Sondland had previously agreed to voluntarily appear before the congress.
Last week, text messages were published by Sondland, among others. They show that Sondland was involved in attempts to get the Ukrainian government to make a statement in which it committed itself to investigations against the gas company Burisma, among others. Hunter Biden worked for Burisma. The company had been investigated at times for allegedly crooked business.
Trump accuses Biden of seeking the dismissal of the Ukrainian attorney general as U.S. Vice President in order to protect his son Hunter from justice. Trump has not provided any evidence for any of his allegations.
Possibly there is a threat of litigation
The Democrats are pressing ahead with their investigations. In addition to Sondland, they had summoned other former and current Foreign Ministry employees. They have also requested documents under a criminal order, including from the White House, the Foreign Ministry, the Vice President and the Defense Ministry.
Given the blockade of Sondland's testimony, it is more questionable than ever whether the government will comply with the requests. If she does not hand over the documents, there is likely to be a legal dispute.
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