'Today we see a much weaker Mitch McConnell': CNN historian says GOP leader is struggling to keep his caucus in line
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at CPAC 2011 (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made it clear days before the trial that he had the votes to pass the rules package he wanted. But after receiving sharp blowback over his proposal, which included requiring all opening arguments occur over a two-day span and allowing the Senate to reject evidence from the House, McConnell caved and loosened some of these rules.

On CNN's "OutFront" Tuesday, historian and former Nixon Presidential Library director Tim Naftali noted that this is a sign McConnell's hand is weaker than it appeared.

"Robert Caro called Lyndon Johnson 'master of the Senate,'" said Naftali. "Many people who looked at Mitch McConnell — the way he handled the Merrick Garland matter, preventing President Obama's nominee from even being considered — thought he figured how to control the Senate. Today we see a much weaker Mitch McConnell."

"Mitch McConnell assumed yesterday he had all the votes he needed for his resolution," continued Naftali. "He presented a very different resolution ... that means that he could not keep his caucus together, because he had to make two hand-written changes. That's huge. For Mitch McConnell, that's not how he does business. So, this is a very interesting and important day. We see that this is much more fluid than people thought."

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