The Portland-based hotelier who has emerged as a key player in the unfolding Trump impeachment drama that is consuming Washington, DC is set to testify in front of a House panel on Thursday, after the White House put a last-minute kibosh on his previously scheduled appearance.
Gordon Sondland’s testimony comes after he was subpoenaed by House Democrats.
Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, founded Provenance Hotels, the boutique hotel chain which owns six major downtown Portland hotels, including the Heathman, the Sentinel, Dossier, Woodlark, Hotel Lucia and Hotel Deluxe.
As the impeachment story has unfolded, the Provenance properties have faced some backlash in uber-liberal Portland, with ice cream tastemakers Salt and Straw severing its relationship with the company, and Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer calling for a boycott of the Provenance hotels until Sondland’s testimony is complete. (Provenance has responded by filling an ethics complaint against Blumenauer, saying the boycott call is an abuse of power.)
According to the Washington Post, which published a juicy profile of Sondland, he will tell Congressional investigators that he was “unaware” that the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s top-tier political rivals, was on the board of Ukranian energy company Burisma.
The whistleblower’s complaint alleges that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings with Burisma, and that military aid and a face-to-face meeting at the White House were contingent upon such an investigation.
The Post makes clear that Sondland’s professions of ignorance might raise some eyebrows on Capitol Hill, given that the president’s personal lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani, had laid out the Hunter Biden-Ukraine connection on television and in print for months, and Sondland and Giuliani were in regular communication.
Sondland has long been well-known in Portland power circles, and he and his wife have made major donations to local nonprofits, including an endowment to the Portland Art Museum that makes admission free for those under 18 in perpetuity. But the Seattle Times in a profile notes that the Mercer Island native was registered to vote in income-tax-free Washington, despite his residency in Portland.