About a week ago, House Minority Leader appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes with the intention of defending Donald Trump. CBS News' Scott Pelley presented the Republican leader with basic factual information: Trump told the Ukrainian president, in the context of military aid, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."
McCarthy was incredulous and accused the journalist of adding a word to the quote. Pelley explained that he was simply reading the text from the official White House call summary. The GOP leader asked, in reference to Trump, "He said, 'I'd like you to do a favor, though'"? The interviewer replied, "Yes, it's in the White House transcript."
It was a humiliating exchange for McCarthy, who apparently hadn't read the document he was there to defend, but it was also a tacit acknowledgement of wrongdoing: the Republican congressman seemed to suggest that if Trump has said, "I would like you to do us a favor, though," it'd be an inherently problematic thing for a president to have said.
A few days later, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), one of the president's most sycophantic supporters, told the Washington Examiner, "If a president just randomly was parachuting his personal attorney down into countries where he thought he could get some dirt on political opponents ... that might be questionable. That's not what this is."
Actually, that was a decent summary of what Trump did with Rudy Giuliani, dispatching him to Ukraine to dig up dirt the Republican president could use.
All of which leads us to yesterday's Sunday shows, where viewers heard Trump supporters make the case that the president was kidding when he publicly urged China to go after Joe Biden. Consider this exchange between ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio):
STEPHANOPOULOS: Threshold question=: Do you think it's appropriate for President Trump to ask China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?
JORDAN: George, you really think he was serious about thinking that China's going to investigate the Biden family? ... I don't think anyone in America really believes -- except people maybe in the press and some Democrats in Congress really believe -- that the president of the United States thinks China is going to investigate.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) made similar comments around the same time. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also pushed the humor-related talking point on Friday.