A US ambassador nominated by US President Donald Trump who provided key testimony in his impeachment hearings was accused on Wednesday of sexual misconduct by three women.
US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland denied the allegations, with his lawyer saying that the accusers were trying to taint his credibility in the inquiry.
The Portland Monthly published named accounts by three women who said that Sondland, a wealthy hotel owner from Seattle, retaliated against them professionally after they rejected him sexually.
One of the women, Jana Solis, said that she met Sondland in 2008 when she was seeking work in her position as a safety expert for hotels.
Sondland met her for lunch and offered her a job as “my new hotel chick” before slapping her rear, Solis said.
Sondland later invited her to his Portland home to evaluate his personal art collection — which included a picture of himself with then-US president George W. Bush — and exposed himself in the pool house, she said.
Sondland at a later meeting also forcibly kissed her, Solis said.
Another woman, Nicole Vogel, said that she met Sondland in 2003 over dinner to seek investment in a new magazine.
He then took her to a hotel that he owned and invited her to see a room, where he requested a hug and then “grabs my face and goes to kiss me,” she said.
She refused and left, Vogel said, pointing to an e-mail in which Sondland afterward declined funding for her project.
Sondland in a statement rejected all the accusations and accused Vogel of “underhanded journalism” out of anger that he did not invest in the magazine.
“These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes,” he said. “They have no basis in fact and I categorically deny them.”
Vogel owns the Portland Monthly, which published the article.
The magazine said that, due to her implication in the story, it teamed up with ProPublica, a respected non-profit news group known for investigations.
Sondland donated US$1 million to Trump’s inauguration and was afterward named ambassador to the EU.
Despite his support for Trump, Sondland, testifying last week under oath before lawmakers, said that he was following the president’s orders in demanding that Ukraine investigate former US vice president Joe Biden before Trump would agree to a White House summit.
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