One has a sense that events in Washington are beginning to move with increased speed and intensity, while even more is transpiring behind the scenes. While some of these maneuverings are a function of the President trying to engage effectively in damage control or pre-empting future surprises, there are clearly some unknowns evolving while the Democrats prepare to begin public testimony next week.
Ambassador Gordon Sondland changed his testimony from the previous week because he became sacred that he could be cited for perjury. While some other Trump loyalists and major campaign donors appeared to be ready to take a bullet for the President, Sondland was not. Rather than see himself, his name, and family dragged through an ugly mess, Sondland reconsidered his previous testimony. He now affirmed that he too believed that President Trump expected aid to Ukraine to be extended as a quid pro quo for Ukraine providing information to the President about Joe Biden and his son Hunter. There are some who believe that as the Courts order individuals to testify before the investigating committee, more and more Trump and Republican loyalists may well follow Sundland’s example.
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney already is trying to have his associates in the Office of Management and Budget salvage his political career. His failure to regain presidential favor has left his political future vulnerable at the age of 52; unless he can he can be bailed out favorably by presentation by his team of staffers with their own testimony.
Trump’s special private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, may well be nervous himself. His two American—formerly Ukrainian–associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, may sense that they might be better served if they break with Giuliani. They appear ready to testify before Congress. If they proceed to discredit Giuliani, as appears to be likely, then Giuliani’s own goose may be cooked.
Giuliani has been around Donald Trump long enough to know that he too might be thrown under the bus should the situation present itself. His loyalty to the President will not be reciprocated. Given the legal issues that he faces and his own ugly divorce proceedings, Giuliani may be the second Trump personal lawyer to be thrown to the dogs.
Senator Mitt Romney may well be biding his time believing that his cautious approach might enable him to step forward and be a statesman. While he may not seek this role, Romney knows that history someday may well ask where were you Senator Romney when you could have saved the country? Trump may have the goods on Senator Lindsay Graham, and without John McCain to keep him in line, Graham can rally to Trump’s side, but many other vulnerable Republican Senators may get worn down by the time the Senate starts its own phase of the impeachment proceedings, probably after Christmas.
One senses that the Democrats have a potential star in some of the witnesses that they will present to the American people. Their decision to lead-off their testimony with Ambassador William Taylor suggests one of two motives. Taylor will either be the first layer of a string of witnesses or he is going to surprise as the first presenter. If Taylor has more to tell than was already released in his closed-door deposition, then the impeachment hearings may commence with a bang. (The Republican House leadership’s decision to move Representative Jim Jordan to the Intelligence Committee is not motivated exclusively by a desire to add a sharp defender of the President to the Committee; but also to insure that the GOP has a very acerbic voice ready to counter charges presented by witnesses or allegations made by Democrats.)
The Republican Party needs to decide soon whether it will stay loyal to Trump regardless of where he leads, or will its Members sense that they will end up going off into the wilderness if they stay steadfastly loyal to the President.