The trial will test whether Senate Republicans care even about themselves

Lastly, the importance of the Senate’s vote in setting a security precedent was heightened by Trump’s initial refusal to condemn the takeover and continuing refusal to acknowledge the part he played in it. In the middle of the siege, instead of condemning the violence and acting to shut down his supporters, Trump issued remarks via recorded video telling the rioters to “go home” but reasserting their righteousness in the face of “a fraudulent election.” He declared, “We love you. You’re very special.” In his first live remarks after the siege, Trump made no apology but instead asserted that his speech to the rioters had been “totally appropriate.” Only after his impeachment did Trump issue a statement in which he affirmed that he “unequivocally [condemned] the violence.” Given Trump’s insistence on disclaiming any connection between what he said and what his supporters did, his acquittal would be tantamount to the Senate’s approval of its endangerment, by Trump and by anyone who would claim his mantle.

“The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” When Madison wrote these words, he likely didn’t have in mind anything as fundamental as the man’s interest in his own bodily integrity, or Congress’s interest in the physical security of its home. But the principle holds. The House’s second impeachment of Trump presents the Senate with the chance to defend or abdicate those interests, through a constitutional proceeding entrusted to it alone and which the Framers believed crucial for, in Madison’s phrasing, “defending the Community [against] the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate.”