Gordon Sondland, hotelier turned diplomat, wasn’t always a Trump supporter

, to the , finds himself in the center of the inquiry after the State Department blocked him from appearing before three congressional committees on Tuesday.

Sondland has been a in for a number of years but wasn’t always a supporter.
Sondland was previously the and of the Hotels chain, which boasts 19 hotels across the country.
Sondland was confirmed to the ambassador role on June 29, 2018.

A frequent donor to the

During the 2016 , Sondland donated to ’s presidential campaign and to the former ’s Super PAC, filings show. After Trump locked up the nomination, Sondland, a frequent donor to the , joined Trump and the RNC’s joint finance operation.
George W. Bush
, after Trump attacked a Gold Star family, Sondland sought to distance himself from Trump after The Seattle Times obtained an a August fundraiser for Trump that showed Sondland listed as an event sponsor.
A for Sondland said at the that he would not be hosting or attending any or fundraisers for the Trump campaign, Willamette Week reported.
“Mr. Trump’s statements have made it clear that his do not align with” his personal beliefs and values, Provenance Hotels spokeswoman told the Portland newspaper.
“Historically, Mr. Sondland has been supportive of the ’s nominees for ,” she added. “However, in of Mr. Trump’s of the Khan and the his constantly evolving positions diverge from their personal beliefs and values on so many levels, neither Mr. Sondland or Mr. can his candidacy.”
After the election, Sondland donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee through four limited liability , according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Although the bulk of his have been to GOP candidates, he gave over $5,000 to Democratic Sen. ’s reelection campaign in 2015, according to FEC filings.
Wyden had vouched for Sondland during his confirmation hearing in 2018, saying he knew the hotelier for a quarter century by way of Oregon’s “really small Jewish .”
He also touted Sondland’s contributions to the Oregon community, including a $1 million endowment to the Portland , where he served as its from 2009 to 2011, to allow free admission for .

Limited prior in

Sondland is a first generation American of , who fled Nazi and eventually settled in Seattle, .
Before he took on the role, Sondland’s work in government had been limited. He was appointed by to serve on the Commission for Fellowships.
He had worked on the transition for Oregon Democratic Gov. Kulongoski, who was governor from 2003 to 2011. Sondland also worked as a principal Republican liaison for Oregon and the White . He also chaired the governor’s Office of and .
While he is ambassador to the European Union, he has stated that he has a specific interest in .
“President Trump has not only honored me with of being the US ambassador to the , but he’s also given me special assignments, including Ukraine,” he told a Ukraine in July.
Sondland was set to be on the hot seat Tuesday as House investigators pressed him about text he exchanged related to Trump’s July phone call with Zelensky and the of foreign to Ukraine.
In text messages released last week by the former US to Ukraine, , Sondland told a US diplomat concerned over the withhold of funding in exchange for an that he is mistaken about Trump’s intentions.
But on Tuesday morning, the State Department ordered Sondland not to appear before .
“He is a sitting ambassador and employee of State and is required to follow their direction,” Sondland’s said.

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