A big difference between the second and first impeachment trials of Donald J. Trump is the sound of (relative) silence.
The former president is muzzled on social media, and his allies were putting up a scattered defense of him on Tuesday. Even those willing to step forward have, for the most part, abandoned his false claim that the election was stolen, and were defending him on narrow legal or constitutional grounds.
It was an emblem of how much has changed in the last year. Mr. Trump, a one-term ex-president, still maintains a tight grip on his party. But a year ago, he had them in a headlock.
His biggest booster Tuesday morning was the person who has most tightly bound her political fortunes to him — Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the freshman Republican from Georgia who was stripped of her committee assignments last week for violent and conspiratorial statements.
“The Capitol attack was planned and organized, NOT incited in the moment by President Trump, and NO Republican Member was involved,” Ms. Greene, who described Jan. 6 as “1776 Day” before the riot, wrote on Twitter. “We were ALL victims that day. And once again, Trump is the victim of the never ending hate fueled witch hunt.”
Ms. Greene’s full support of the former president came as other Trump allies focused their comments on the decision by the Senate to hold the trial at all and casting it as an argument over constitutional principles (freedom of speech and whether a former president can be tried after leaving office) rather than a defense of his behavior.
That was a striking contrast from a year ago when Senator Mitch McConnell, their leader, blasted the first impeachment attempt as the “most unfair” in history.
“Do you really think impeaching an outsider who is fighting the system makes people like him less?” asked Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s first 2020 campaign manager, in a tweet on Monday.
“The Senate is now set to spend yet another week focused on impeaching a private citizen from an office he no longer holds,” Representative Lauren Boebert, a first-term Republican from Colorado who also encouraged the protesters, wrote late Monday on Twitter. “The Left doesn’t know how to govern and is still focused on trying to blame Trump for everything.”
Gregg Jarrett, a Fox News legal commentator, was one of the few supporters to offer a more comprehensive defense of Mr. Trump’s actions in the hours leading up to the riot.
In an op-ed posted on the network’s site early Tuesday, he argued that the former president’s speech outside the White House did “not come close to meeting the definition of incitement.”
Sean Hannity, the Fox host and Trump adviser, spent more of his show on Monday lashing out at Democrats then explicitly defending his friend’s actions, claiming that impeachment was “like a drug” and that liberals had become addicted to it.
Over the past few days, the Twitter accounts of many Republicans who had fiercely defended Mr. Trump during his first trial, had turned to other topics.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the House who was one of Mr. Trump’s stoutest defenders a year ago, on Tuesday blasted the two-week-old Biden administration for “taking away” jobs from blue-collar workers. And Mr. Trump’s former White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, posted a string of tweets celebrating the Super Bowl victory of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.