This Wednesday morning, House impeachment investigators kept their latest round of public impeachment inquiry hearings going with an appearance from Trump’s E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who played a key role in the “quid pro quo” (or “this for that”) plot that the Trump team carried out targeting Ukraine. Before House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) could gavel in the hearing, but after a copy of Sondland’s damaging opening statement had already come out, key Republicans including ranking member Devin Nunes (Calif.) walked out of the hearing room, and former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill suggested, based on the situation, that they left to get “marching orders” from the White House.
As she put it:
‘The Republicans have gone off, especially the three that are key, which is Ratcliffe, Jordan, and Nunes, and they are talking to the White House — I guarantee you — right now, trying to figure out a path forward.’
After Nunes re-appeared, McCaskill added:
‘Here’s Nunes now. They’ve had their conversation with the White House, and they’ve got their marching orders, let’s see how they execute them.’
Nunes has coordinated with the White House before, having kept them in the loop while working to prove Trump’s baseless assertion that Obama had wiretapped him.
Now, Nunes and his fellow ardent Trump defenders on the committee are facing an opening statement from Sondland that explicitly says there was, in fact, a quid pro quo, and it was “no secret” behind the scenes. Sondland even tied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo into the scheme, sharing email correspondence in which he responded approvingly to Sondland pushing the quid pro quo plot.