WASHINGTON — US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a key figure in the Ukraine controversy, bucked the State Department on Friday and announced he would appear before House investigators under subpoena next week.
The State Department had blocked Sondland from appearing before three House panels last week as the White House informed Democratic leaders they had no intention of cooperating with the impeachment inquiry. Democrats subsequently issued a subpoena for Sondland’s testimony.
‘‘Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday,’’ Sondland’s lawyers said in a statement.
The statement continued: ‘‘Ambassador Sondland has at all times acted with integrity and in the interests of the United States. He has no agenda apart from answering the committees’ questions fully and truthfully.’’
Although Sondland now is poised to appear before the panels, he cannot turn over documents requested by investigators, his lawyers said. The lawyers, Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley, said that State Department regulations prohibit Sondland from producing documents concerning his official responsibilities and that the department has the ‘‘sole authority’’ to do so.
‘‘Ambassador Sondland hopes the materials will be shared with the committees in advance of his Thursday testimony,’’ they said in a statement.
The focus of the impeachment inquiry is President Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at a time when US military aid to Ukraine was being withheld.
Sondland was one of a handful of US diplomats who facilitated Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian leaders, according to a trove of text messages that former US special envoy Kurt Volker provided to House investigators last week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, vowed Friday that Trump ‘‘will be held accountable’’ as the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry moved forward with closed-door testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine.
In a letter to House Democrats ahead of a planned conference call Friday, Pelosi touted ‘‘increased outside validation of our efforts’’ and thanked colleagues for their ‘‘seriousness of purpose’’ during the impeachment inquiry.
‘‘The president’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution, and undermine the integrity of our elections,’’ Pelosi wrote.