The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Fight erupts over EU ambassador's testimony

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The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — State blocks EU envoy from testifying before House | Committees to issue subpoena | Trump mocks inquiry as 'kangaroo court' | Graham invites Giuliani to testify before Senate | Majority in poll back impeachment inquiry | GOP discontent over Trump impeachment messaging | Trump defends Turkey amid Syria blowback



It's not you, it's me.

Actually, it's them:

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, is no longer testifying today.

Why: The State Department ordered him not to testify, according to his lawyer.

From Sondland's attorney: "Early this morning, the U.S. Department of State directed Ambassador Gordon Sondland not to appear today for his scheduled transcribed interview before the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Committee. As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department's direction." 

Sondland's attorney also said: That his client was "profoundly disappointed" that he was blocked from testifying. 

Why his testimony is important:


BREAKING -- and a subpoena for you!:

The chairmen of three House committees said they will subpoena testimony from Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union.

Who is issuing the subpoena: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFlynn urged Russian diplomat to have 'reciprocal' response to Obama sanctions, new transcripts show The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Democrats expand probe into State IG's firing | House schedules late June votes with defense bill on deck | New Navy secretary sworn in Democrats broaden probe into firing of State Department watchdog House chairman slams Pompeo for suggesting US could 'disconnect' from Australia over China deal MORE (D-N.Y.) and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Postal Service collapse that isn't happening House Democrat reintroduces bill to reduce lobbyist influence The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid MORE (D-Md.)





The president's reaction sounds like an interesting Captain Kangaroo spin-off:

--> ;)

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE defended his administration's decision to block a key witness in the impeachment probe, claiming that Gordon Sondland would have been testifying before a "kangaroo court."

Trump tweeted: "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 [sic] rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see. 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!" Sondland's quote cited by Trump was a text message, not a tweet, sent to William Taylor, a top official in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. Read Trump's tweets on Twitter:


Adam Schiff is not a happy camper this morning:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) ripped the State Department for blocking the key witness from testifying and withholding texts and messages on a personal device.

Schiff told reporters this morning: "Not only is the Congress being deprived of his testimony, and 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. Those messages are also deeply relevant to this investigation and the impeachment inquiry." 

Schiff warned that blocking Sondland's testimony amounts to obstruction of justice: "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." 

Watch Schiff's remarks to reporters after the news that Sondland would not testify:


It's Tuesday. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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Rudy has been invited to testify in the Senate:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Graham announces hearing on police use of force after George Floyd killing In a new cold war with China, America may need to befriend Russia MORE (R-S.C.) says he will invite President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE to testify about Ukraine.

Why Giuliani? -- Graham tweeted: "Have heard on numerous occasions disturbing allegations by @RudyGiuliani about corruption in Ukraine and the many improprieties surrounding the firing of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin."

Why in the Senate? -- Graham tweeted: "Given the House of Representatives' behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine. Therefore I will offer to Mr. Giuliani the opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to inform the committee of his concerns." 

Read Graham's full series of tweets:



Eagerly awaiting guidance:

Via The Hill's Niall Stanage, "Republican discontent is deepening about the lack of a single, direct message from the White House aimed at blunting the Democratic push for President Trump's impeachment." 

How so: "It has been several weeks since details of Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky leaked to the media. Since then, the president has cycled through several rationales, justifications and counterattacks on Twitter and in public remarks. But his approach lacks consistency and discipline, and Republican insiders are sounding the alarm." 

Example -- from longtime Republican strategist Alex Conant: "There is growing concern. We are almost a month into this and there is still no White House strategy."

Another -- from GOP consultant Dan Judy: "The messaging is just not coordinated within the White House. That's a problem. But it is not surprising because that has been a problem with this administration since the very beginning."

How this could play out:


New poll -- how Americans feel about impeachment:

58 percent of Americans think the House was correct to launch an impeachment inquiry, according to a new Washington Post–Schar School poll, while 38 percent disagreed.

On whether Trump should be removed from office: Forty-nine percent of respondents said Trump should be impeached and removed from office. And: Six percent said Trump should be impeached but not removed from office. 

Read the full poll:



My buddy, Erdogan:

This morning, President Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria after fierce criticism from Republicans. 

The gist of Trump's defense: Turkey is a big trading partner, has been easy to deal with and is in good standing with NATO -- and that the U.S. is not abandoning the Kurds but is assisting them with money and weapons.

Read Trump's full explanation: Here: and here: 

Trump also pointed out: Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit the White House on Nov. 13.



A suspicious package was found outside the Supreme Court:

Via WJLA-TV, several streets around the Supreme Court have been closed this morning after a suspicious package was found in front of the Supreme Court. What we know:

Livestream outside the Supreme Court:



USAA champions our military and veteran caregivers

Military and veteran caregivers wear many hats in support of America’s wounded warriors. USAA recognizes the selflessness of these 5.5 million hidden heroes and backs efforts to help them. Learn More.



Nervous laugh:





The House and Senate are out. President Trump and Vice President Pence are in Washington, D.C. 

11:50 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at the Tate Reeves for Governor luncheon in Washington, D.C. Reeves, the Mississippi lieutenant governor, is the GOP nominee for governor in the state.

1 p.m. EDT: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence.

2 p.m. EDT: President Trump receives an intelligence briefing.

4:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Edwin MeeseVice President Pence also attends.



11 a.m. EDT: Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Mark Morgan held a press briefing. Livestream:



Today is National Fluffernutter Day.


We take Taco Tuesday very seriously in this newsletter:

Via BuzzFeed's Samantha Wieder, here are the best Mexican restaurants in the United States, according to Yelp. 

The list -- this is brutal if, like me, you haven't eaten lunch yet:


And because you made it this far, here's a cat watching Psycho. Notice his pupils: