After the Trump administration blocked U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from testifying before the House as part of the body’s impeachment inquiry, Rep. Mark Pocan on Tuesday sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reminding him of the federal law that prohibits paying the salary of any official who bars a government employee from communicating with Congress.
Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, demanded to know who ordered Sondland not to testify. As The Guardian reported, a State Department official left a voicemail with Sondland’s lawyers early Tuesday morning ordering the ambassador not to attend House hearings.
“I ask that you direct the person who prohibited Ambassador Sondland from communicating with Congress to section 713 of Division D of Public Law 116-6 signed by President Trump earlier this year,” Pocan wrote to Pompeo. “As you are aware, this section prohibits paying the salary of any ‘officer or employee of the federal government from… communication or contact with any member, committee, or subcommittee of Congress.”
“I believe the person prohibiting Ambassador Sondland from testifying before the House Intelligence Committee is in violation of this statute,” Pocan continued, “and that their salary should be withheld until Ambassador Sondland appears before Congress.”
In a tweet containing his full letter to Pompeo, Pocan said “we refuse to bankroll this administration while they hold witnesses hostage.”
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