But [Republicans] see the outcome of the trial, which begins on Tuesday, as a reflection of Trump’s viability and influence in the GOP moving forward. And they believe a conviction, which would require the support of at least 17 Republican senators, would simply embolden Trump and enrage his base in a way that hurts the party in 2022 and 2024.

“He does a pretty good job of being a victim,” a GOP senator, who requested anonymity to candidly address the internal party dynamic, said of Trump. “If he were to be convicted, there would be an uproar among his supporters. And it would probably energize them.”…

“One of the most powerful reasons for a trial here is the public airing of Donald Trump’s really heinous criminal wrongdoing and his criminal intent,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a former prosecutor and state attorney general. “A trial airs a tableau of evidence and proof that can change the way people think about … the individual who is on trial. Even when someone is acquitted, they may still be haunted by the facts that come to light at a trial.”

Republicans have already signaled their uneasiness with Trump’s lawyers, who in an initial filing last week advanced the former president’s unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen from him. There is widespread concern among Republicans that the arguments on the Senate floor will turn into a re-litigation of Trump’s false allegations of election fraud — a discussion that GOP senators aren’t interested in having, as most of them try to move past Trump.