Removing the president would obviously infuriate Trump’s most passionate supporters. The best way for the party to insulate itself electorally from that fury would be for those senators facing re-election in 2020 — there are 23 of them — to be let off the hook and encouraged to vote for acquittal if that’s what will help them win their states.
That will leave 30 senators whose seats are safe until 2022 or 2024. If the party decides to turn on the president, 20 or so out of those 30 will be the ones to enact it. The bulk of the meeting will involve those 30 people hashing out what they will do, and precisely who will do it. The meeting won’t come to an end until a resolution has been reached about whether or not to dump Trump and bet that President Mike Pence (perhaps with running mate Nikki Haley by his side) will have a greater chance than Trump of defeating Biden or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in November 2020. The hope will be that by 2022 and beyond, all will be forgotten and forgiven by the Republican base.
When voting begins at the conclusion of the Senate trial, the outcome will already be known to the Republicans in the room. Either no Republicans will turn on Trump — or a fatal number will. There will be no surprises, no wasted votes for conviction and removal, no senators taking a noble stand uncertain of the final tally. (The only one who might possibly vote to convict and remove knowing its futility is Sen. Mitt Romney, a morally scrupulous Mormon who is very popular in his home state of Utah — and isn’t up for re-election until 2024.)