Suit: Pompeo Vowed to Pay Legal Fees. Then 'Everything Changed'

Trump impeachment witness Gordon Sondland sues ex-secretary of state, US for $1.8M
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2021 11:28 AM CDT
Memorable Trump Impeachment Witness Sues Pompeo, US for $1.8M
In this Nov. 20, 2019, file photo, Gordon Sondland, then the US Ambassador to the European Union, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

He was a standout witness in the first Trump impeachment trial. Now, Gordon Sondland is once again making headlines, thanks to a lawsuit he's filed over his testimony in the 2019 proceedings. The former US ambassador to the European Union is suing ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as the US government, for $1.8 million, over what Sondland claims is a broken promise by the State Department to pay his legal fees incurred during the impeachment, reports Axios. In his complaint, Sondland claims that he was assured by Pompeo ahead of the impeachment trial that although government attorneys wouldn't assist him with his testimony, he would be reimbursed for what he ended up paying his own legal team. Pompeo "made a legally binding promise, both individually and on behalf of the Government," to take care of those costs, Sondland's suit notes.

Sondland—who the Washington Post describes as one of the impeachment trial's most notable witnesses, not only for his testimony, but also for "his punchy answers, affable demeanor, and colorful language"—says that "everything changed" in regard to Pompeo's promise after Sondland's bombshell testimony on Ukraine proved to be more damaging to Trump than helpful, and after he refused to resign from his post at the State Department's request. The suit notes that Sondland's legal fees were so costly because the State Department kept him from "access to materials essential to his preparation." Per a statement from his attorney to the Post, Sondland "harbors no ill will" against Pompeo, but he wants "full reimbursement" for his legal fees—not just the total of $86,040 he's already reportedly received from the State Department. (More Gordon Sondland stories.)

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