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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff blasted the Trump administration on Tuesday for their last-minute decision to hold up congressional testimony by Gordan Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Just before he was scheduled to testify about efforts by Trump to get Ukraine to dig up political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, the State Department announced that Sondland would be blocked from appearing.

“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 coequal branch of government,” Schiff explained.

Schiff then went into detail on the evidence that is being hidden.

“We are also aware that the ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device which has been provided to the State Department,” he said, noting that the department is “withholding those messages” from the committee.

Schiff said the texts involve discussions between Sondland, Ukrainian officials, and Trump along with “at least one U.S. senator.”

According to Schiff, the committee is investigating to see if Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others worked to “cover up this misconduct.”

“[The impeachment inquiry] goes to the core of whether the president abused his office to seek political help in his reelection campaign and did so to the detriment of our nation’s security,” Schiff said.

Trump was “effectively coercing a country that has been invaded by Russia to investigate a rival and condition the relationship between this country and that country on whether they were willing to play ball,” he added.

“It is 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,” Schiff 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. They have a right to know, indeed the American people have a need to know and through this impeachment inquiry, we are determined to find the answers.”

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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