The former president, whom House Democrats have accused of inciting the rioters at a rally earlier the same day, is already hemorrhaging support within the GOP. Recent public polls have shown a sharp decline in support among Republican voters for a potential Trump comeback bid in 2024. And a widely televised trial that reminds voters and lawmakers of the disturbing moments when MAGA devotees assaulted law enforcement officials and broke into the Capitol building could harm his future political aspirations even more.

“The Democrats have a very emotional and compelling case,” said former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. “They’re going to try to convict him in the eyes of the American people and smear him forever.”

Trump’s legal team appears to have similar trepidations that next week’s proceedings will turn into a high-profile retelling of the riots and his role in them. To prevent that from happening, his lawyers have centered their case on whether it is constitutional to impeach a president after he’s left office. They also plan to argue that he did not engage in insurrection, saying his fiery speech on the ellipse of the White House was protected by the First Amendment, without indulging a lengthy discussion about what happened on Jan. 6.