What if Lamar Alexander, the retiring statesman from Tennessee who has struggled to mask his disillusionment with Trump’s destruction of norms, decides to go out with a bang?
What if Cory Gardner, whose reelection in Colorado seems destined to be doomed by the top of the ticket, thinks his next act in politics depends on establishing distance from Trump?
What if Ben Sasse or Pat Toomey or Rob Portman, all thoughtful conservatives in the Burkean tradition, reach a point where they feel compelled to meet a moment on behalf of their party and their country and perhaps even their constituents, as upset as many of them might be?
None of this might seem realistic. Yet these are precisely the scenarios being bandied about by the president’s team—and on occasion, by Trump himself. According to multiple people who have been consulted by the president on the impeachment endgame, it’s not far-fetched to imagine as many as five Republican senators ultimately taking the leap together. This is because there’s a near-certain foundation of one with Romney, and a plausible foundation of three with Romney, Collins and Murkowski. Two or three more isn’t impossible to imagine; there is reassurance in numbers, a knowledge among some potential combination of defecting senators that they won’t be out on a limb by themselves. (None of the senators in question have commented with any real clarity on the impeachment proceedings, preferring for now to cloak their silence in the explanation that they will soon be jurors in America’s most important trial.)