Portland hotelier Sondland sues to recover impeachment legal fees

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Washington Post reports that former European Union ambassador was paid only a portion of the cost after he testified in the first U.S. House inquiry.

Portland hotelier turned Trump-appointed diplomat Gordon Sondland was surprised to be greeted by protesters at Portland International Airport Tuesday night after returning from Washington, D.C., where he’d amended his testimony to Congressional impeachment investigators. (Jonathan House/Portland Tribune)

The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group’s papers are a KOIN 6 News media partner

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Portland hotelier Gordon Sondland, an ambassador who provided key and colorful testimony in President Trump’s first impeachment hearings, is suing former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to recover legal fees Sondland claimed were promised to him.

Sondland’s 21-page federal complaint demands $1.8 million. It also claims that he was forced to use private legal help while preparing to testify before a House impeachment committee because U.S. State Department attorneys were unavailable. Sondland claims Pompeo promised to reimburse the ambassador’s legal costs, something he did not do.

The lawsuit was filed Monday, May 24, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Washington Post first reported the lawsuit.

Pompeo has denied making the promise. The former secretary of state has not commented on the lawsuit. No court date has been set for the lawsuit.

Sondland’s attorneys say the State Department paid only $86,040 of the hotel owner’s more than $1 million in legal bills related to the impeachment inquiry. Sondland testified before several House committees, for a total of about 17 hours. His testimony was “entirely candid and truthful (but uncomfortable to the Trump administration),” according to the lawsuit. That led to Pompeo reneging on his promise, Sondland’s attorneys claimed.

‘Simply telling the truth’

Sondland is founder and chairman of the Provenance hotel group, which operates 13 hotels across the country, including Portland’s Heathman, Hotel Delux, the Sentinel, Hotel Lucia and the Woodlark. A Seattle resident, Sondland was a major contributor to President Donald Trump’s inauguration fund, and was named ambassador to the European Union.

COURTESY PHOTO: C-SPAN – A screenshot from C-SPAN shows EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland testifying on Nov. 20, 2019, before the House Intelligence Impeachment Inquiry.

Sondland’s November 2019 public testimony to the House Intelligence Impeachment Inquiry outlined a link between presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine and the White House in an attempt to get information on Hunter Biden’s activities as a member of the Burisma energy company board as a way to smear then-presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a quid pro quo?” Sondland told the committee in his Nov. 20 testimony. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes. Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary (Rick) Perry, Ambassador (Kurt) Volker and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election.”

Sondland’s attorneys claim that even though he was subpoenaed as a government witness, Pompeo and the state department “bucked normal convention and denied him the services of any government counsel. This act was especially problematic in this instance because the amount of preparation needed to comply with the subpoenas was staggering.”

According to his lawsuit, Sondland claimed his dismissal by President Trump in February 2020 (after Sondland refused to resign), was for “simply telling the truth.”

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