A key witness could gut Trump's entire impeachment defense this week

The facts just keep getting worse for President Donald Trump -- and a key witness could gut his entire impeachment defense this week.

A key witness could gut Trump's entire impeachment defense this week

This was originally published as the November 18 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers.

Eight more officials are expected to testify this week, and the most devastating could be Gordon Sondland. The US ambassador to the European Union is emerging as Trump's top bag carrier with the Ukrainians: Witnesses say that Trump asked Sondland on a July phone call whether "the investigation" he wanted would be announced. Sondland allegedly replied yes, adding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "loves your ass."
Sondland's testimony on Wednesday could gut Trump's entire impeachment defense that there was no quid pro quo. His dilemma: Whether to protect himself or the President?
Trump is not taking any of this terribly well. In an extraordinary moment on Friday he attacked former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, while she was giving televised evidence. She visibly blanched when told about his tweet, and Democrats are now considering adding a charge of witness tampering to articles of impeachment.
On Sunday, Trump blasted another witness, Jennifer Williams, who works in Vice President Mike Pence's office, after she criticized his call with Zelensky as "inappropriate." Pence's team -- always careful not to cross Trump -- declined to defend her.
None of this is likely to suddenly cause Republicans to dump Trump in a Senate trial early next year, which is expected to follow the House's vote on impeachment. But each revelation increases the potential political price Republicans could pay for saving him in presidential, House and Senate elections come November.