Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Jared Kushner, center, and US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, right, meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Jared Kushner, center, and US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, right, meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

Oliver Matthys/AP

The Trump administration has blocked Gordon Sondland, President Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, from testifying before Congress Tuesday.

Sondland has been a key figure in the widening Ukraine scandal involving the president, members of his Cabinet and high-ranking diplomats.

“Early this morning, the U.S. Department of State directed Ambassador Gordon Sondland not to appear today for his scheduled transcribed interview before the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Committee,” the law firm representing Sondland said in a statement. “Ambassador Sondland had previously agreed to appear voluntarily today, without the need for a subpoena, in order to answer the Committee’s questions on an expedited basis. As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department’s direction.”

The statement described Sondland as “profoundly disappointed” and noted that he traveled from Brussels to Washington for the testimony and to prepare.

“Ambassador Sondland believes strongly that he acted at all times in the best interests of the United States, and he stands ready to answer the Committee’s questions fully and truthfully,” the statement notes. “Ambassador Sondland hopes that the issues raised by the State Department that preclude his testimony will be resolved promptly. He stands ready to testify on short notice, whenever he is permitted to appear.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will speak to reporters on Sondland’s testimony on Tuesday morning. [Copyright 2019 NPR]