The key would be to get the White House to do what it had refused to do at every turn up to that point: acknowledge that there was a possibility a quid pro quo may have occurred, but make clear that even if it had, it wouldn’t merit an impeachable offense.

“The White House lawyers for a long time dug in on the argument that there is no quid pro,” Cruz recalled, noting that given disputed testimony and the White House chief of staff’s own acknowledgment of a quid pro quo, it was a tenuous argument to make from the start. Cruz gave his blunt assessment to the White House team.

“Out of 100 senators, zero believe you on the argument there is no quid pro quo,” Cruz said he told the defense counsel. “Stop making it.”

Patrick Philbin, the deputy White House counsel, would eventually walk to microphone and, somewhat grudgingly, answer the question from Graham, Murkowski and others, by making the point that even if Bolton’s recollection of events was, in fact, true, it wouldn’t merit an impeachable offense.