If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were serious about garnering bipartisan support for impeachment, she would have consulted pro-impeachment Republicans such as Roy on how best to write the article. She would have lobbied Republicans to be floor managers in the Senate trial. Instead, she pursued a path that not only gave Republicans an excuse to vote against impeachment but also guaranteed that Trump would remain a political albatross for the GOP.

Similarly, the decision to wait until after Trump left office before sending the article gave Republican senators another excuse. It let them claim that trying and convicting a president who has left office is unconstitutional. (Whether a president can be impeached after leaving office is a non-issue; he was already impeached—twice—while in office).

Now, I think that claim is wrong. But after studying it further, I no longer think it’s absurd on its face. And given how desperate most Republican senators are to dodge their duty to hold the president accountable, that argument is a lifeline.