‘Unusual’: Reporters surprised as a large swath of Republicans go missing during Sondland testimony
(Dana Milbank/Twitter)

Reporters covering the House impeachment inquiry were mystified after most of the Republican lawmakers left the room during EU ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony.

Sondland directly implicated President Donald Trump, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the scheme to withhold military aid from Ukraine until its president agreed to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.

Almost all of the GOP minority on the House Intelligence Committee left the hearing room as each party's counsel questioned Sondland in 45-minute sessions.

"Unusual that most Rs left room during this round of Dem questions," tweeted John Parkison, of ABC News. "Only Jordan, Ratcliffe with GOP counsel Steve Castor - and now Nunes returns to dais. No lawmakers seated in viewing area either."

The Republican minority appeared to be caught off guard by Sondland's decision to turn on senior administration officials.

"Sondland’s testimony appears to have deflated Republicans," said Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. "The GOP members’ cheering squad has left the room."