On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," Chris Cuomo challenged Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, on the Republican narrative defending President Donald Trump from impeachment.
"We can talk about the rate of investigation, but this idea that if you show basically a bribe, if you show there is a solicitation here, that there is a pressure campaign, that's all that came up in the testimony," said Cuomo. "Why do you guys ignore what happened, instead of just arguing that what happened isn't enough?"
"Chris, I would dispute all of that," said Johnson. "We are paying attention to exactly what happened. No witness that testified either in the basement or out in the public has said anything about a bribe or extortion. That was a term that the Democrats were using to justify this whole charade."
"That's a legal conclusion," shot back Cuomo. "[E.U. Ambassador Gordon] Sondland said there was a quid pro quo. You don't get the aid if we don't get the announcement, that's the same thing, you don't have to speak Latin."
"You can't take Sondland out of context. You have to take the full Sondland," said Johnson. "He asked the president directly September 9th—"
"How do you know?" said Cuomo. "Where's the record that the call happened? You have to take him at his word, but if you can't take him at his word at the stuff you don't like."
"He said the president himself said to him and replied, I want no quid pro quo," said Johnson. "You can say Sondland was not being truthful under oath, but when he talked about the quid pro quo he thought, he was forced to admit that it was a presumption."
"Let's slow it down for the audience. You're a very talented attorney, you know what you're doing," said Cuomo. "When you say it's just conjecture, Sondland spoke to the president on a regular basis, says he was given every indication by working through Rudy Giuliani, and this is what they wanted. Everybody who testified said this is what we were told they wanted, this was the plan. Rudy Giuliani said it on this show. The president said it on the call. The one thing that I agree with you that changes the calculus is this September 9th phone call, when the president said the opposite. He even used the language that the whistleblower used. What a coincidence! Even though the whistleblower hadn't come out yet, but the president knew about the whistleblower complaint. Here's the problem — we don't know that the call happened."