Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who has become a key figure in the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump, reportedly has no plans to step down over allegations of sexual misconduct.
A close associate to Sondland told Politico on Thursday that the EU diplomat had “no intention of resigning” in the wake of the ongoing impeachment inquiry and the newly surfaced sexual misconduct claims. Sondland has denied the accusations.
A joint report published by ProPublica and Portland Monthly on Wednesday included allegations from three women about unwanted advances Sondland made towards them. All three women agreed to be named in the report, which encompassed a period between 2003 and 2011, before Sondland donated to President Trump’s inaugural committee and later joined his administration.
All of the women described unwanted kissing and attempted kissing by Sondland. One reportedly said that Sondland exposed himself to her. All of have claimed that Sondland, a hotelier, retaliated against them professionally after they refused his advances.
Nicole Vogel, who owns the Portland Monthly, claimed that she met Sondland in 2003 while she was trying to find potential investors for her magazine. She claimed that Sondland invited her to dinner and offered to invest in the publication. She accused Sondland of making an unwanted advance towards her after they walked to a hotel owned by his company.
Vogel alleged that Sondland changed the terms of his investment after she spurned his advances and that she proceeded without him.
Sondland fiercely denied the claims detailed in the report, saying that his “conduct can be affirmed by hundreds of employees and colleagues with whom I have worked in countless circumstances.”
“These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes,” Sondland said in a statement to the two news outlets.
Sondland’s lawyer Jim McDermott also claimed that, given the timing of the story, “a reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that you are attempting to affect Ambassador Sondland’s credibility as a fact witness in the pending impeachment inquiry.”
“Given the politically charged climate in which current events are unfolding, some might consider this to be veiled witness tampering,” McDermott said.
Sondland has testified before the House Intelligence Committee multiple times amid the lower chamber’s impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
Last week, he testified publicly that Trump conditioned a White House meeting with the new Ukrainian president on the leader announcing investigations into 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the 2016 election. Sondland also claimed that several top administration officials were aware of the quid pro quo with respect to negotiations with Ukraine.
“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’” Sondland asked. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”