Pelosi waited. Pelosi lost. Pelosi won.
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.