Pelosi waited. Pelosi lost. Pelosi won.

The Washington Post - - WEDNESDAY OPINION - DANA MILBANK Twitter: @Milbank

This had to be one of the most suc­cess­ful fail­ures — one of the most tri­umphant de­feats — in mod­ern po­lit­i­cal his­tory. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) clearly failed in the stated aim of her four­week de­lay in send­ing impeachmen­t ar­ti­cles to the Se­nate: to with­hold the ar­ti­cles and the nam­ing of impeachmen­t man­agers un­til, as she put it last month, “we see the process that is set forth in the Se­nate.” Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell (R-KY.) didn’t re­veal his impeachmen­t res­o­lu­tion and made no com­mit­ment to bring forth wit­nesses or doc­u­ments.

But Pelosi’s de­lay seems to have blunted any hope Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­fend­ers had of dis­miss­ing the charges with­out a trial. Be­fore the speaker’s gam­bit, Mccon­nell pledged that “there will be no dif­fer­ence be­tween the pres­i­dent’s po­si­tion and our po­si­tion as to how to han­dle this.” Trump is now call­ing for a dis­missal, but Se­nate Repub­li­cans say they won’t al­low that.

Credit the de­lay. Pub­lic at­ten­tion to the dis­pute and to for­mer Trump na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton’s will­ing­ness to tes­tify make it more dif­fi­cult for Repub­li­cans to dis­miss the charges. It also left time for investigat­ors to ob­tain notes and phone records of in­dicted Rudy Gi­u­liani as­so­ciate Lev Par­nas; re­leased in part Tues­day night, they show, among other things, that peo­ple work­ing with Gi­u­liani ap­par­ently had Marie Yo­vanovitch, then the U.S. am­bas­sador to Ukraine, un­der sur­veil­lance.

The big­gest ben­e­fit of the 28-day de­lay, though, could not have been pre­dicted when Pelosi sent the na­tion on this path. Many of the be­hav­iors that got Trump im­peached have re­turned in other guises for all to see:

• He took the na­tion to the verge of war with Iran based on a lie: that his as­sas­si­na­tion of a top Ira­nian gen­eral was justified by an “im­mi­nent” threat, specif­i­cally a planned at­tack against four U.S. em­bassies. When the world learned that Trump had fab­ri­cated it, he claimed “it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter” whether there is an im­mi­nent threat be­fore he en­gages in hos­til­i­ties — an as­sault on con­gres­sional author­ity to de­clare war.

• He is si­mul­ta­ne­ously pre­par­ing to as­sault con­gres­sional power of the purse. As The Post’s Nick Miroff re­ported, Trump plans to di­vert an ex­tra $7.2 bil­lion for a border wall — five times the amount Congress au­tho­rized — by si­phon­ing money away from mil­i­tary con­struc­tion and coun­ternar­cotics ef­forts.

• Trump has also re­fused to re­lease $18 bil­lion of con­gres­sion­ally ap­proved dis­as­ter aid for Puerto Rico, which just suf­fered a 6.4-mag­ni­tude earth­quake on top of the lin­ger­ing ef­fects from Hur­ri­cane Maria in 2017. Other (whiter) U.S. ci­ti­zens got bet­ter treat­ment fol­low­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

• Trump’s 2016 po­lit­i­cal bene­fac­tor, Rus­sia, has been caught in­ter­fer­ing in the 2020 elec­tion to help Trump. Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary spy agency, the GRU, hacked Burisma Hold­ings, the Ukrainian gas com­pany on whose board Hunter Bi­den served and that was at the heart of the impeachmen­t in­quiry. Trump tried to force Ukraine to give him po­lit­i­cally help­ful dirt on the Bi­dens — and now Rus­sia ap­pears ready to oblige.

Af­ter the past four weeks, Se­nate Repub­li­cans will have a more dif­fi­cult time dis­re­gard­ing the con­se­quences of ex­cus­ing Trump’s wrong­do­ing. They’re know­ingly bless­ing his claims of uni­lat­eral power to make war and spend tax­payer dol­lars and leav­ing him in a po­si­tion to owe re­elec­tion to the same man who helped him win a first term: Vladimir Putin.

Pelosi an­nounced her of­fi­cial surrender in the Capi­tol base­ment Tues­day morn­ing, telling House Democrats the impeachmen­t man­agers would be named Wed­nes­day and the ar­ti­cles sent. Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence af­ter the meet­ing, Sh­eryl Gay Stol­berg of the New York Times pointed out that Pelosi failed to get McCon­nell’s com­mit­ments. “So what’s changed?”

The Demo­cratic cau­cus chair­man,

Rep. Ha­keem Jef­fries (N.Y.), ar­gued that the stall “cre­ated space” for three Re­pub­li­can sen­a­tors — Su­san Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Rom­ney (Utah) — to sup­port wit­ness tes­ti­mony. Only one more Re­pub­li­can vote is needed to hear from wit­nesses such as Bolton.

Will vul­ner­a­ble Repub­li­cans still try to quash tes­ti­mony about Trump with­hold­ing Ukrainian aid for po­lit­i­cal dirt — even now that Rus­sia has vi­o­lated Ukrainian sovereignt­y to steal pre­cisely the sort of dirt Trump sought? Jef­fries sug­gested block­ing tes­ti­mony would look like “a coverup” by “Moscow Mitch and the Se­nate Repub­li­cans.”

Nearby, House Mi­nor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy (R- Calif.) held a news con­fer­ence declar­ing Pelosi’s de­lay a dud: “No one ques­tions about what she gained, it was noth­ing.”

Mccarthy went on to claim that Pelosi with­held the ar­ti­cles to help Joe Bi­den de­feat Bernie San­ders — re­new­ing a Demo­cratic con­spir­acy from 2016, he al­leged, when “emails came out to show that . . . San­ders was cheated.”

Emails came out? In­cred­i­bly, Mccarthy was cit­ing emails stolen by Putin when the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee was hacked by the GRU — the same Rus­sian mil­i­tary out­fit that just hacked Burisma.

Add that to the many benefits of Pelosi’s de­lay: ex­pos­ing the ut­ter per­fidy of Mccarthy, re­ly­ing on Rus­sians’ 2016 dirty work on Trump’s be­half even as those same spies were just caught try­ing to help Trump in 2020.

Surely a few Se­nate Repub­li­cans, now in the spot­light, will feel pres­sure to show more in­tegrity.

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