A key witness in the House impeachment inquiry was ordered not to appear at a scheduled deposition with House committees on Tuesday, ramping up tensions between House Democrats and the Trump administration.

The State Department instructed Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland not to appear for the deposition, according to his counsel.

Sondland, a wealthy hotelier who had donated $1 million to President Trump’s inaugural committee before taking his government position, was a figure in the text messages released by Democrats last week that showed administration officials discussing Trump’s communications with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Those talks have become the impetus for the impeachment effort.

Sondland’s lawyer said his client was “profoundly disappointed” that State did not allow him to testify, and expressed hope that the issues raised by State would be resolved promptly to allow him to testify.


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