The Republican argument that House Democrats impeached President Donald Trump to nullify the 2016 election has a Constitution-sized hole in it.
Even if the GOP-run Senate votes to convict him — which is as likely as Trump quitting Twitter — Vice President Mike Pence would succeed his political patron.
This reality is ignored in Trump's caterwauling about Salem witch trials and in the somewhat silly complaint by Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) that Pontius Pilate gave Jesus a fairer trial than the House gave the president.
If installed, Pence could be expected to govern as Trump would on taxes, judges, immigration, abortion and regulatory rollbacks.
Since sober personal values are an indelible part of Pence's public image, he'd likely end the Trump-style personal scandals, fabulism and White House chaos.
Despite Democratic resistance, Pence, an ex-congressman and governor, might find success that has eluded Trump in negotiating key legislation on Capitol Hill.
Of course, he wouldn't have the mandate of being elected independently, although Trump won the last race despite falling short in the popular vote. But the Republican win of 2016 would be preserved.
If Trump were removed before his term ends, Pence, from the Republican stronghold of Indiana, would be an incumbent only briefly before the next election — but with the potential to keep the GOP in office longer.
An internal party battle to succeed Trump could well erupt in his absence — even a family power play to put Donald Trump Jr. or Ivanka Trump in office. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has positioned herself as a possible GOP successor.
But that kind of speculation jumps a few levels.
In Michigan on Wednesday, Pence took the stage at a Christmas-themed rally where Trump would later deliver a long, embittered and fevered speech.
Pence delivered a dutiful campaign warmup. He said Democrats fear they won't win next year, given what he called the administration's success at securing borders, fighting terrorism and bulking up the military.
“I’m here for one reason and one reason only,” he told the cheering Kellogg Arena crowd. “Four more years of Donald Trump in the White House.”
And at a "Workers for Trump" event in Saginaw, Pence touted high employment numbers, tax cuts and a revised North American trade deal.
“The best is yet to come for American workers under President Trump," he declared.
Calling the House impeachment a "coup" is as wide of the mark as calling it an annulment or an execution. The republic's founders tried to make sure of that.