The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump played out like a television adaptation of a widely-read novel.
There were moments of powerful drama and the setting was the scene of the alleged crime.
And the ending was essentially known before it started.
Going into the Senate trial, in which the former United States president was charged with incitement over the storming of the Capitol in Washington, Democrats faced overwhelming odds.
They had to get 17 Republicans on their side to reach a two-thirds or 67-vote tally to convict Trump. It was never going to happen.
Only 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives had voted for impeachment. Dozens of Republican officials challenged the November election result hours after the Capitol riot.
The jury in this case were witnesses, victims of the rioters, and in some cases allies in Trump's attempt in January to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's election win.
No president has ever been convicted and removed in a Senate impeachment trial. In this case, with Trump having been dumped by voters, he could have been barred from running for the presidency again.
Historians say Trump's expected acquittal on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection will have consequences we are only beginning to understand — and they'll be felt for years. https://t.co/Cu3x8B4YxF— Axios (@axios) February 13, 2021
The result to acquit Trump was a headline win for the former president but was also a damning result. It was the most bipartisan vote in impeachment history.
Seven Republicans voted with the Democrats to deliver a 57 to 43 guilty verdict. Trump will always be remembered for the Capitol riot and the election aftermath.
What has now been lost is the idea that impeachment is an effective deterrent or punishment.
The House managers who presented the case against Trump, carefully showed that his attempts to sow doubt on the election went back to the middle of last year and that he failed to act for hours while the riot - which resulted in deaths and injuries - was under way.
The full extent of the planning behind the "Stop the steal" rally in January was not outlined and neither were witnesses called. Perhaps legal considerations, with cases pending, were a factor, but the Democrats also know they have to quickly pivot back to Biden's agenda for ending the pandemic and boosting the economy.
Trump's defence team and Republicans argued that impeachment of a former president was unconstitutional, that Trump was just using fiery rhetoric, and wasn't responsible for his supporters' actions.
Trump faces massive civil liability atop everything else. And at every trial for everyone hurt by Trump's wrongdoing, the attorneys for the harmed can play video of the Republican leader in the Senate pronouncing Trump "practically and morally responsible" https://t.co/qAFwFSjiIX— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 14, 2021
Both parties used the trial to speak to the audience of US voters at home.
The Democrats tried to damage Trump as much as possible, tightly binding the former leader to party officials, ambitious presidential contenders, the base, far-right extremists, criminals and conspiracy theorists.
Trumpism will remain a unifying rally call for Democrats to oppose and the party could become the permanent home for exiled Republicans.
The Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell voted not guilty but seared Trump in a speech afterwards for a "disgraceful dereliction of duty".
He appeared to try to distance the party as an institution from Trump saying: "There's no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it."
But most Republicans have calculated that if they can keep Trump's core support with the party, they could conceivably regain one or both houses of Congress in 2022.
They have missed the chance for a clean break from Trump.
At this stage no one can say for certain how it will turn out for the former president and his struggling party.
Trump is just as likely to become a diminished figure who fades as he is to act as a Republican kingmaker.
It is unknown how long Trump's influence with his party will last but the possibility of a second series has been left open.