(Update: Schiff now plans to subpoena Sondland's testimony.)
(CNSNews.com) - President Trump on Tuesday morning said he'd "love" to have U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testify before the House intelligence committee, as scheduled, Tuesday morning -- but.
"I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see," Trump tweeted.
"Importantly, Ambassador Sondland’s tweet, which few report, stated, “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” That says it ALL!"
The State Department instructed Sondland, a voluntary witness, not to appear, and that was made known to the committee early Tuesday morning.
At a 9:30 a.m. news conference, a miffed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the intelligence committee, seized the opportunity to slam the Trump administration and suggest that his "inquiry" will now extend to "obstruction."
"Not only is the Congress being deprived of his testimony, the American people are being deprived of his testimony today, but 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," Schiff said.
"Those messages are also deeply relevant to this investigation and the impeachment inquiry."
(Here Schiff outlined Sondland's role in the committee's Ukraine investigation.)
"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," Schiff said.
Schiff outlined the "four issues" his committee is looking at, all of which "go to the heart of our national security," he claimed.
Schiff identified those four issues as:
(1) "whether the president solicited foreign help in a U.S. presidential election, again."
(2) whether a Trump-Zelensky meeting "was being conditioned on the willingness of Ukraine to investigate this bogus conspiracy theory about 2016 and investigate the Bidens.
(3) whether Ukraine was led to believe that U.S. military assistance "was being withheld until it made commitments to do these political investigations for the president."
(4) "whether there has been an effort by the president, the secretary of state and others to cover up this misconduct."
Schiff said although Sondland is "an important witness," he is not the only important witness:
"And we will consider this act today -- and we've had members fly in from around the country to hear the ambassador -- the testimony as well as the withholding of the ambassador's documents as well as efforts that may be made to discourage or having the effect of discouraging other State Department witnesses from coming forward and testifying as they have agreed to, to be further acts of obstruction of a co-equal branch of government."
Schiff concluded his remarks by noting that he is conducting one of the nation's very few "impeachment inquiries."
"It's hard to imagine a set of facts more damaging to our national security and our standing in the world, but also more of a fundamental breach of the president's oath of office," he said.
“The American people have the right to know if the president is acting in their interests, in the nation's interests, with an eye towards our national security and not in his narrow personal, political interests..."