White House refuses to cooperate with impeachment inquiry

The White House said on Tuesday it will not cooperate with a "baseless, unconstitutional" impeachment inquiry, setting President Donald Trump on a collision course with the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives.

In a letter to Democratic House leaders, the White House Counsel wrote "Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."

The letter came shortly after Democratic House intelligence chairman Adam Schiff blasted the White House Tuesday for blocking the U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from giving testimony in the House impeachment inquiry... even though he had already flown from Brussels to do so.


"The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a co-equal branch of government."

Sondland had been due to meet behind closed doors with three Democratic-led House committees Tuesday morning over the role he may have played in Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden.


"We are also aware that the ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device which have been provided to the State Department although we have requested those from the ambassador and the State Department is withholding those messages as well. Those messages are also deeply relevant to this investigation."

According to text messages released by House committee leaders last week, Sondland was heavily involved in contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he sought a meeting with Trump, and with Ukrainian officials who expressed concern at the administration's decision to block nearly $400 million in U.S. military assistance for Kiev.

In one of the texts, Sondland emphasized that Trump "really wants the deliverable."

Sondland, a political appointee who donated $1 million to President Trump's inauguration committee, had agreed to appear voluntarily without a subpoena and, through his lawyer on Tuesday, said he stands ready to testify and that he hoped "the issues raised by the State Department that preclude his testimony will be resolved promptly."