Throughout this impeachment process those who believe the evidence collected so far have been asking how and why his Republican defenders can be so dedicated to protecting an obviously flawed President whose case for impeachment is largely self constructed. The answer usually found in the media is 1) Republicans are afraid of the wrath of Trump and his supporters in the 2020 primaries and 2) The Republicans need Trump to pursue their longer term goal of stuffing the courts with "Republican" judges.
I can't predict what Trump's supporters would do if their hero was not at the top of the Republican ticket. I suspect that they would either stay home or vote for some other GOP candidate trying to be "Trump Lite". "Trump Lite" candidates have not done well so far while Trump has been in office. Either way, If Trump is denied his White House bully pulpit megaphone it is difficult to see how he could further influence Republican Primaries.
As for the second reason, surely Mike Pence, with his Fundamentalist Christian credentials clearly on display, could be counted upon to nominate suitably conservative judges for the Senate to confirm.
Which brings me to the point. The GOP doesn't have to risk destroying itself while it ignores foundational American principles. They could impeach Trump, remove him from office and in the very next moment have yet more conservative judges to confirm to the bench. That path would allow them to doff the stench of Trump, protect American electoral integrity, preserve the Constitution and fulfill their oaths of office. All the while maintaining their ability to pursue the higher goal of overturning Roe v Wade and protecting the 2nd Amendment.
So why don't they take this easy, honorable, path out of their current dilemma? They must be aware that it is there. Vice President Gerald Ford became President just moments after Nixon resigned. Mike Pence himself has often said that "God has ordained that I will be President" surely the GOP can't believe they have the authority to usurp God's will? Or perhaps that is the problem. Perhaps the Republicans retain enough critical thinking skills to understand that any man claiming a divine assignment to be President should not be trusted with the job. Mike Pence is likely sincere in his faith and his belief of God's plans. It would be interesting to obtain his honest thoughts about the President to whom he is so publicly devoted. Trump has broken the 7th, 9th and 10th commandments, bragged about being able to break the 6th, violated the golden rule and has been investigated for more earthly crimes. How does Mike Pence reconcile the presence of such a craven sinner in the office from which he is just one heart beat away? His only answer can be that old faithful: "God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform". While Pence can't really know the mind of God, he must know that his fellow Republicans are willing to twist themselves into logical, ethical and legal pretzels in order to keep said sinner in office and keep him out. I wonder if he is getting any sleep at night.