The Note: Early maneuvers show fluidity of impeachment politics

The political environment only gets less predictable from here.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

History may not remember that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to spread impeachment arguments over three days instead of two and to let the record from the House to be admitted as evidence in the Senate.

But the fact that McConnell budged is a reminder that the history of the impeachment of President Donald Trump has yet to be written.

The top Senate Republican leader isn't subject to many political pressures. He is, though, attentive to the demands and the needs of his GOP caucus -- with the knowledge that he's only as powerful as four of his fellow Republicans let him be at any given moment in this trial.

It's easy to overstate the power of Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney plus one. But it's also wrong to dismiss the possibility of political surprises.

The political environment only gets less predictable from here.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is up with a new pro-impeachment ad airing in states with potentially vulnerable Republican senators; the pro-Trump America First Policies, meanwhile, has a new ad targeting Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama.

One thing both sides can agree on, with opening arguments in the trial expected Wednesday, is that the process matters. Republicans argued that point extensively in the House and Democrats are now arguing it in the Senate.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The last thing many Democrats want right now is a replay of Hillary Clinton fighting with Sen. Bernie Sanders on the eve of this Iowa caucus four years later, let alone any hedge from the former first lady about whether she would fully support Sanders if he were to win the Democratic Party's nomination.

"I didn't love going through the experience of our party divisions in the past," former Mayor Pete Buttigieg told reporters when asked about a newly released excerpt from an upcoming documentary where Clinton apparently said "nobody" likes the independent Vermont senator.

On his way to sit in judgment in the impeachment trial, Sanders' joked that at least his wife liked him. His supporters went on to tweet #ILikeBernie all day. Prominent progressive from Michigan, Abdul El-Sayed, wrote, "I like @BernieSanders. He's my friend + millions of others. Why? Rather than say nobody likes us, he's fighting for us."

In a follow-up interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Clinton also punted about whether she would specifically endorse Sanders, who not only endorsed, but campaigned for her in 2016.

"I'm not going to go there yet," Clinton said in the article, out Tuesday.

The back and forth with Clinton was a strong reminder that party unity may be a long way off for Democrats and perceptions from party leaders of old, may still be Sanders' biggest obstacle, despite his enthusiastic supporters this cycle and knack for bringing out unlikely voters to his events.

The TIP with Justin Gomez

Buttigieg has been pushing his Washington outsider status throughout his presidential campaign and with just 12 days left until the Iowa caucus, the former mayor of South Bend is crisscrossing the state while the other top-tier candidates are tied up with impeachment.

"It's not that I don't understand the ways of Washington, it's that I don't accept the ways of Washington," he told voters in Burlington on Monday. "I understand that by the measures of time spent in Washington, if you're looking for that, I'm clearly not going to be your candidate. But if you're looking for somebody who has, yes, government experience, military experience, experience guiding a city, leading a government as an executive, but maybe not as Washington-oriented, I have something to offer that's, that's just different. And I think that's important, not just in order to win, but in order to govern."

He said he isn't worried about being overshadowed by the trial and that he's using this time to engage with Iowans as they get into "decision mode."

"It's a very fluid race," he said. "But I'm extremely optimistic and we will continue working with an underdog mentality to make sure that we, we climb that hill and succeed on caucus night."

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce on the battle over the proposed rules in the Senate impeachment trial. Then, ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer breaks down why the Supreme Court rejected a fast-track review of the Affordable Care Act. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. In this recording of a live show, the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast crew debates the electoral cases of the four leading candidates in the Democratic primary. The team also discusses the concept of electability and whether voters are biased against voting for a woman for president. https://apple.co/23r5y7w

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., one of the House impeachment managers, appears on ABC's "The View."
  • President Donald Trump travels back to the United States from Switzerland after having breakfast with American business leaders and participating in bilateral meetings with the presidents of Kurdistan and Iraq.
  • Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence travel to Tel Aviv, Israel, in the afternoon.
  • Andrew Yang continues his bus tour across Iowa, holding town halls in Charles City at 9:30 a.m. (CST), Osage at 11:30 a.m., Cresco at 2 p.m., Decorah at 3:30 p.m. and Waukon at 6:30 p.m.
  • Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a town hall in Dubuque, Iowa, at 10 a.m. (CST). Later, he travels to Washington for a fundraising event at 7:15 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden holds community events in Mason City, Iowa, at 10:15 a.m. (CST) and in Osage at 2:30 p.m.
  • Former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., campaigns in Iowa, making stops in Elkader at 11 a.m. (CST), West Union at 1 p.m. and Decorah at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • On the campaign trail in Iowa on behalf of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, hosts a meet-and-greet event in Carroll at noon (CST), and another at 2:15 p.m. in Denison, where he is joined by his twin brother, former presidential candidate and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick meets with members of the Granite State Organizing Project in Nashua, New Hampshire, at 12:30 p.m. Later, he hosts a community celebration in Boston at 6:30 p.m. to kick off his "Deval for All" campaign in Massachusetts.
  • Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg delivers remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' 88th Winter Meeting in Washington at 3:45 p.m.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, holds a town hall in Charlestown, New Hampshire, at 6 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.