The U.S. ambassador testified that there was a 'quid pro quo,' and that Trump personally demanded it.
For weeks, Republicans have been seeking to defend Donald Trump against impeachment, saying the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine's president was "perfect," that there was no "quid pro quo," and that none of the witnesses in the impeachment inquiry had firsthand knowledge of Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
However, in just a few minutes on Wednesday morning, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland destroyed that entire argument, testifying that Trump personally directed the plot to force Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals — and that he knows because he was a part of it.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's "requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky," Sondland said in his opening statement at a public impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee. "Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president."
It appears even Republicans were taken aback by Sondland's opening remarks, as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) again repeated the GOP claim that there was no "quid pro quo" with Ukraine.
Nunes also suggested Sondland was there to be "smeared" by Democrats. However, Sondland's opening remarks could turn out to be a gift to Democrats, who now have firsthand evidence that Trump was trying to push the Ukrainian president to announcing investigations into Trump's political rivals in exchange for critical military aid.
Sondland's testimony puts Republicans in an even tougher position, as they now have to come up with an entirely new defense of Trump.
So far, the Washington Examiner reports that Republicans will simply say that Trump's actions don't warrant impeachment.
It remains to be seen whether that works in today's politically polarized society.
Published with permission of The American Independent.