As Donald Trump strived to enforce message discipline among Republicans in the face of a building threat that he will be impeached, new forces beyond the US president’s control appeared likely to accelerate the congressional impeachment inquiry further in the coming week.
At least one additional whistleblower has stepped forward to describe an alleged scheme by Trump to extort Ukraine for dirt on Democratic 2020 presidential rival Joe Biden, the individual’s lawyer announced.
Congress is preparing to take testimony on Tuesday from a major figure in the Ukraine scandal, Gordon Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and major Trump donor who was made US ambassador to the European Union.
Similar testimony last week by former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker led to the disclosure of a damaging series of text messages further implicating Trump in the scandal.
And Trump’s would-be defenders in the Republican ranks, with the notable exception of two figures who themselves are deeply implicated in the Ukraine affair – secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani – have fallen mostly silent. No Trump defender from the White House appeared on the US Sunday morning news shows, nor did any members of the congressional Republican political leadership.