House Democrats Considered 10 Impeachment Articles Before Narrowing Their Case Against Trump

They also would have charged Mr. Trump with obstructing Mr. Mueller’s investigation, obstructing congressional investigations, engaging in the hush money scheme carried out by Mr. Cohen, dangling pardons to keep potential witnesses against him quiet, usurping the power of Congress both by spending money on his border wall and by imposing tariffs without authorization, targeting his adversaries with the power of his office and violating the emoluments clause.

The committee staff members, assuming that Mr. Trump would take other objectionable action, then added a placeholder 10th article titled, “The Next High Crime.” Just weeks later, the president’s Ukraine pressure campaign came to light and filled that slot.

As the investigation into the Ukraine matter proceeded, however, House Democratic leaders opted to focus largely on that after concluding that some Democrats in conservative districts would not support a kitchen-sink prosecution.

“I would have loved to have gotten all the articles,” Mr. Eisen said in an interview on Wednesday. “There would have been no benefit to doing it because there was no consensus for doing it.”

Barry Berke, another lawyer for Mr. Nadler, said on Wednesday that there was a serious debate about how broad the articles should be. “I will tell you, it was not an easy question,” he said. “It was more a question of what should be charged than what could be charged.”

By December, after hearings, Mr. Nadler ultimately presented Ms. Pelosi and other leaders with just three articles, one claiming abuse of power by enlisting a foreign power to tarnish Democrats, another claiming obstruction of the House investigation into the matter and a third claiming obstruction of Mr. Mueller’s inquiry.

Ms. Pelosi ruled out the Mueller article, deeming it a bridge too far. But Mr. Nadler fought for permission to insert language into the remaining two articles stating that the actions were part of a broader pattern, in effect referring to the other uncharged offenses.