- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2019

House Democrats said Trump administration tried to block Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, from testifying behind closed doors Friday.

The chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees explained in a statement that they had to issue a subpoena for Ms. Yovanovitch in order to secure her testimony.

“Last night, the Committees learned that the State Department, at the direction of the White House, directed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch not to appear for her voluntary interview today,” they wrote. “This is the latest example of the Administration’s efforts to conceal the facts from the American people and obstruct our lawful and constitutionally-authorized impeachment inquiry.

“This duly authorized subpoena is mandatory, and the illegitimate order from the Trump Administration not to cooperate has no force,” the chairmen wrote.

Ms. Yovanovitch still works for the State Department despite no longer serving in Ukraine, so her cooperation with the investigation was uncertain, though she did ultimately appear before lawmakers Friday morning.

Earlier this week, the White House sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warning her that they wouldn’t cooperate with the impeachment probe until she held a full House vote to authorize and establish equal powers for both parties.

On Tuesday, the administration blocked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and another key figure in the Ukraine incident from meeting with lawmakers.

His counsel announced Friday morning that Mr. Sondland would be testifying before lawmakers “notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify.”

The committee chairs reiterated that continued stonewalling from the administration could merit grave consequences.

“Any efforts by Trump Administration officials to prevent witness cooperation with the Committees will be deemed obstruction of a co-equal branch of government and an adverse inference may be drawn against the President on the underlying allegations of corruption and coverup,” they wrote.

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