WASHINGTON (AP) — Gordon Sondland
, the Trump administration
's ambassador to the European Union and a key witness
in the 2019 impeachment
proceedings, filed a lawsuit
against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
on Monday, seeking to recoup $1.8 million in legal fees.
Sondland claims in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, that Pompeo agreed to reimburse his legal expenses after being subpoenaed by House Democrats
to testify in an impeachment case in which then-President Donald Trump
was accused of withholding military
aid from Ukraine while demanding an investigation
into political rival Joe Biden
and his son Hunter.
Instead, Sondland claims that after learning the details of Sondland's testimony, Pompeo "reneged on his promise."
“With Pompeo’s contractual commitment apparently abandoned for political expediency, Ambassador Sondland turns to this Court to reimburse his attorneys’ fees and costs and make him whole,” Sondland’s lawyer, Mark Barondess, wrote in his lawsuit.
The lawsuit, according to Pompeo's spokesperson, is "ludicrous," and Pompeo is "confident the court will see it the same way."
Sondland described for investigators how Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani
, explicitly sought a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine, leveraging an Oval Office visit for political investigations of Democrats in testimony described in Sondland’s lawsuit as “highly fraught, highly charged, and highly risky with tremendous consequences.”
The House impeached Trump but the Senate
acquitted him in February 2020.
According to the lawsuit, Sondland was fired days after Trump's acquittal "simply for telling the truth," and he claims the company's refusal to pay his legal fees not only constituted a breach of commitment and "normal convention," but was also "especially problematic in this instance because the amount of preparation required to comply with the subpoenas was staggering."
“Ambassador Sondland retained a Washington, D.C. law firm well experienced in Congressional investigations that possessed the capacity to assist him, along with his long-time personal counsel, in preparation for his critically important testimony,” the lawsuit states.
The Washington Post
broke the story about the lawsuit.
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