There’s broad consensus among Republican strategists about one thing: the trial is politically disadvantageous for the Senate’s 2024 contenders, distracting from hearings in which senators can object without reservation to President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees — something with near-universal GOP appeal.

Defending Trump is a trickier endeavor. And the procedural rules of impeachment don’t help. Senate rules severely limit senators’ ability to speak during the trial itself, relegating on-camera appearances primarily to the Capitol hallways and TV cameras on the periphery. Those venues are less script-able than delivering prepared remarks in a committee hearing or on the Senate floor, leaving more room for error…

“For the Republicans who want to be president, they’re going to have to make their mark somehow as standing with Donald Trump on due process and fairness grounds,” said Mark Weaver, a Republican strategist and former deputy attorney general of Ohio. “Few of them will want to do a full-throated defense of everything Donald Trump said and did, which means the safest path is to point out that this is really a political stunt by the Democrats … You want to move from defense to offense.”