“Mitt Romney is a bitter, jealous man who looks at President Trump and wishes he could be him. This is about Romney’s ego, nothing else,” said Jason Miller, a Republican strategist who advised Trump during the 2016 campaign and co-hosts a podcast with Steve Bannon, the president’s former White House counselor.

A second Republican strategist neither affiliated with nor opposed to Trump agreed that Romney’s maneuvering during the four-month impeachment process was calculated. This veteran operative predicted the senator would be active after the November elections, trying to restore the internationalist, “Chamber of Commerce” Republicanism that dominated the GOP before the elevation of Trump, a populist and a nationalist.

“He is cynically betting on an electoral disaster in 2020,” this Republican said, requesting anonymity in order to speak candidly and preserve relationships with key establishment figures. “I think he believes he will be the only guy who will look like he was in the right on the road to hell.”