Both the Republican party and the pundits at Fox News have defended President Trump during the impeachment hearings as being not "quid pro quo." That is, Trump was NOT operating under the premise that he would withhold military aid to the Ukraine in exchange for the Ukrainian government's investigating Joe Biden's son Hunter. The White House and Republicans have insisted that the Ukrainians had no knowledge that there were any conditions in place for a meeting with President Trump or with the $400 million in military aid earmarked for the country to assist in their struggles with Russia over the Crimean region.
However, this morning US Ambassador to European Union Gordon Sondland testified during the impeachment hearings that he was part of a plan to pressure Ukraine into investigating Hunter and Joe Biden on orders from President Trump. "I followed the directions of the President," said Sondland.
Sondland, who was appointed by Trump after donating a million dollars to his political campaign, would have been the perfect fall guy for the impeachment hearings. If he said that he acted without oversight, he would have taken the blame for the entire debacle. Instead, he threw others under the bus.
"Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19, days before the Presidential call. As I communicated to the team, I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to 'run a fully transparent investigation' and 'turn over every stone' were necessary in his call with President Trump."
Sondland's testimony directly contradicts the defenses that the Republicans have built in the impeachment process. In short, Trump used the power of his office for personal political gain. Sondland implicated Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Perry, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in an email that made it clear that the Ukrainians were aware that they needed to start an active investigation before getting face-to-face time between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?' As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes."
This has been a most damning day for the President's defenders. They can no longer claim no quid pro quo, nor can they claim that people like Sondland acted alone. Now the question becomes whether or not the Ukrainian scandel is enough of an impeachable offense.