The idea that this disgraced former president, the first in 232 years to ever actually be removed by the constitution’s impeachment procedures, would somehow come back from the dead to destroy the careers of all 35 of these men and women is farcical. To begin with, even if Pence goes full Gerald Ford and pardons Trump for all the high crimes and misdemeanors, the president will still be facing a wide variety of legal troubles the day he is dragged out of office. In fact, if Pence wanted to fully insulate himself from Trump, he would simply refuse to pardon him for anything. And while Trump’s manic energy and his Twitter account will follow him into retirement, he would be extremely hard-pressed to orchestrate primary challenges against everyone who votes against him.
Remember when supervillain Steve Bannon was going to primary every establishment Republican he could find? How did that work out? Recruiting dozens of viable candidates to take out popular incumbents like Tim Scott and John Thune would be a challenge even if the effort had been launched months ago. If the Senate holds a trial early next year, ex-President Trump and his allies would have mere weeks to meet filing deadlines in many states and to raise money for their little vengeance campaign. The same goes for fears that Trump would start his own TV network and use it to assail elected Republicans day and night — perhaps it’s a long-term concern, but there is no way such an operation would be up and running by the general election, let alone the primaries.