Over a year after Trump’s first impeachment investigation concluded, former Ambassador Gordon Sondland is suing the State Department, as well as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for breaking “a legally binding promise” made during the proceeding. Sondland claims that Pompeo and the U.S. government did not honor the implied contract to pay Sondland’s legal fees from the impeachment investigation. 

Sondland was a large donor to the Trump campaign and after the election, he was handpicked by former President Donald Trump as the chief diplomat to the European Union. The close relationship he had with Trump and his position in the E.U. during the political scandal made Sondland the subject of a subpoena by the House as a witness to the behavior of Trump during the impeachment process. 

Initially, Pompeo believed Sondland’s testimony would aid the case being made for Trump and, thus, offered to cover the legal expenses of Sondland during the proceeding. However, after Sondland testified that Trump conspired with the Ukraine government to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden, the State Department, led by Pompeo, denied Sondland all legal resources – including government counsel services and coverage of all related costs. Following the end of the impeachment process, the Trump administration fired Sondland for “simply telling the truth.”   

Sondland is requesting $1.8 million in damages against Pompeo and the State Department. “This act was especially problematic in this instance because the amount of preparation needed to comply with the subpoenas was staggering. Ambassador Sondland was required to prepare for highly charged testimony under oath with international scrutiny without access to materials or anyone from the Government agencies which had knowledge of all the facts relevant to his testimony.” 

Pompeo has called the suit “ludicrous.” 

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