McConnell has mocked the idea that Pelosi or Schumer can shape the Senate trial to their liking. But he’s also said he won’t start it until Pelosi sends the articles, and it’s clear from Trump’s tweets and statements that the unresolved situation bothers him. Moreover, the delay is allowing facts to emerge. Over the two-week holiday break, newly unredacted emails showed Pentagon officials worrying about the legality of Trump’s effort to withhold military aid from Ukraine. And on Jan. 6, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, potentially a key witness to Trump’s alleged actions toward Ukraine, announced he would testify before the Senate if subpoenaed. On Jan. 7, McConnell announced that he had enough Republican votes to begin the trial, and Democrats in both chambers appeared to be getting restless–but still Pelosi refused to budge.

The gambit is reminiscent of another Pelosi maneuver designed to exploit Trump’s insecurities. Pelosi retook the speakership a year ago amid a government shutdown triggered by Trump’s demand for border-wall funding. She refused to negotiate on the matter until the government reopened. As the stalemate dragged on, Pelosi seized on an unexpected source of leverage: she postponed Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress, knowing that he prized it as a televised set piece showcasing his power.

Then she stubbornly waited out her adversary. “The President tried to break us in January [2019] by throwing us into a government shutdown at the same time we were transitioning into the majority,” says Hakeem Jeffries, a Democratic Congressman from New York who serves as caucus chairman. “We held together, and instead of breaking us, we broke him. It ended in unconditional surrender.”