But even when offered the cloak of anonymity to reveal testimony from the secret hearings, Republicans are declining to elaborate or otherwise provide competing information that might cast doubt on the story the Democrats are telling. That suggests to some Republican operatives that the depositions might indeed be very damning for Trump and offer little for the GOP to use — unless the president’s allies are simply being negligent in his defense, which appears unlikely.

“House Republicans are almost-certainly sticking largely with process arguments to defend the president because they can’t defend him on substance,” said Michael Steel, a former House Republican leadership aide. “There is still a smart, safe, defensible argument to make — that what he did was wrong but doesn’t merit removal from office less than a year before an election. It’s unclear if President Trump will let Republicans make it.”