“We have a lot of other things to do. I think the worry is that the risk of incitement doesn’t go away, that the president is still going to control the sentiments of a big group of people,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “As much as I would love to cast him in the waste bin, he is going to continue to influence American politics and influence a lot of his most rabid followers.”

It’s a delicate balance for Democratic leaders to strike. The Biden administration and congressional Democrats are trying to move aggressively on their legislative priorities, starting with a major coronavirus relief package, and the president had hoped the Senate could split-screen the trial with its other work. But Democrats also know their base loathes the former president and wants him held to account — anti-Trump energy that could flare further after a second acquittal.

“It is important that we find out some of the things that the former president may have been involved in that really hurt our country,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who served as an impeachment manager during Trump’s first trial and wants to continue active oversight of his departed administration. “We’re trying to set America up for success.”