Two Trump campaign sources say EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's allegation of a quid pro quo implicating Trump and top administration officials "blindsided" aides inside the White House, the re-election campaign as well as some Republican lawmakers."
"It would not be inaccurate to say they were blindsided," said one campaign source in touch with GOP members.
As Sondland's testimony stretched into the afternoon, the source said GOP members decided to quickly pivot to what they felt were "inconsistencies" in Sondland's testimony. "It reflects poorly on him," the source said of portions of Sondland's testimony where he later acknowledged he was presuming that aid was tied to investigations of Democrats.
A separate Trump campaign adviser was furious with Sondland's testimony, calling it "aggravating." The adviser said it came as a complete surprise that the EU Ambassador would implicate senior members of the administration. "It was really bizarre," the adviser said, adding Sondland appeared to be throwing top administration officials under the bus in real time.
A third campaign source said enough questions were raised about Sondland's testimony by GOP members to protect Trump from sustaining serious damage. "No direct hit," the Trump adviser said.
Another campaign source in touch with the White House team handling impeachment today said at the outset of the Sondland hearing, those aides seemed to be distressed – seemed to be “freaking out.” The source acknowledged Sondland’s testimony undermined the White House’s central argument that there was “no quid pro quo,” noting there are some Trump allies who have wanted to shift from that to arguing the appearance of quid pro quo was really just the President executing his legitimate foreign policy goals.