Schiff: State withholding Sondland texts, messages on personal device

A key witness the State Department blocked from an impeachment deposition on Tuesday has messages on a personal device that has not been provided to Congress, according to Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House adopts confident tone after Pelosi signals go on impeachment Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley MORE (D-Calif.). 
 
The House Intelligence Committee chairman ripped the State Department for blocking the deposition of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and said the messages being withheld were relevant to the House impeachment inquiry.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"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," Schiff told reporters shortly after the State Department blocked Sondland's appearance.
 
"Although we have requested those from the ambassador and the State Department is withholding those messages as well," Schiff continued. "Those messages are also deeply relevant to this investigation and the impeachment inquiry."
 
Schiff warned that blocking Sondland's testimony amounted to obstructing the committees' 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.

Moments after Schiff's comments, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTrump, first lady take part in National Christmas Tree lighting The Hill's Morning Report - Dem impeachment report highlights phone records Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing MORE (Ohio), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and other GOP lawmakers defended the State Department's decision.
 
They called on Schiff to publicly release the full transcript of former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary How Democrats' missing witnesses could fill in the Ukraine story MORE's testimony from last week. Schiff and two other committee chairmen leading the House impeachment inquiry released a batch of texts that include messages exchanged by Volker, Sondland and others.
 
"We understand the reason why the State Department decided not to have Ambassador Sondland here today. It's based on the unfair and partisan process that Mr. Schiff has been running," Jordan said.
 
Updated at 10:48 a.m.