The labyrinth of allegations swirling around Donald Trump administration's Ukraine dealings has only deepened since this newspaper's initial coverage of the Mississippi connections, direct and indirect, to the controversy last Thursday. As the scope of the impeachment inquiry grows, key figures have been in and out of closed meetings on Capitol Hill, revealing new information that confirms—and complicates—many of the previous assumptions about the still-anonymous whistleblower's complaint.
This morning, the U.S. Department of State ordered U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland not to testify before Congress today, setting off another week of acrimony for the emerging impeachment inquiry over President Trump's dealings with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
That means that, without a subpoena, the House will not get to question Sondland about his texts with men including Kurt Volker, U.S. special representative for Ukraine. Volker was first under scrutiny in the impeachment inquiry, testifying last Thursday before three U.S. House of Representatives committees: Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform, and Intelligence. After this testimony, House Democrats released a transcript of text messages between a number of American and Ukrainian officials, primarily Volker and Sondland, as well as Bill Taylor, U.S. charge d'affaires for Ukraine, top Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
The texts shed light on the deliberate process of dealmaking involved in the Trump-Zelensky relationship, with Volker's texts to Giuliani showing that the former ambassador to NATO connected the former New York City mayor to Yermak, who later met with Giuliani in Madrid. The texts also contain candid discussion of "the deliverable," referring to Zelensky's explicit announcement of an investigation into Hunter Biden's appointment to the board of Burisma Holdings and Joe Biden's involvement in an international effort to dislodge then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Those texts are:
[8/17/19, 3:06:19 PM] Gordon Sondland: Do we still want Ze to give