SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The attorney for a U.S. envoy at the center of an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump has slammed a Democratic congressman's call for a boycott of the Portland-based hotel chain that the diplomat founded.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said Wednesday that no one "who cares about America" should stay at or do business with the hotels until Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testifies and turns over relevant documents to the House of Representatives.
Jim McDermott, a lawyer representing Sondland, called it an "irresponsible attempt to hurt a homegrown business that supports hundreds of jobs in our local economy."
Besides six hotels in Portland, Provenance owns or manages hotels in Massachusetts, California, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington state, according to its website.
McDermott said Sondland has requested that the State Department allow him to testify as soon as possible.
Text messages provided by another diplomat last week showed Sondland and others navigating Trump's demands for investigations by Ukraine of Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son. Several House committees have subpoenaed Sondland, who failed to appear for questioning after the Trump administration blocked him from testifying.
"Ambassador Sondland has requested that the Department of State allow him to testify as soon as possible," McDermott, a Portland attorney, said in a statement emailed on Thursday. "Precisely because no one is above the law, Ambassador Sondland has turned over all relevant documents sought by Congress to the Department of State, as the Federal Records Act requires."
Blumenauer said there should be a boycott of the upscale hotels in the Provenance Hotels chain because Sondland "refused to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee."
Len Bergstein, a Portland political consultant who has worked with Sondland, said he is perplexed why Sondland got involved with the Ukrainian issue.
He described Sondland as "a self-made man who had gotten where he was by putting together complex deals."
Sondland was appointed ambassador to the EU after he donated at least $1 million to the Trump inaugural.
"The mystery to me is why he sought the Ukraine thing, without being an expert in it and it seemed not a part of the portfolio," Bergstein said this week. "The arc of Gordon's story is of a guy who's tremendously successful in everything he touches, reaches for the stars here, and gets in the middle of a little bit of a scandal."
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