If Democrats were to proceed quickly with an impeachment inquiry, sending it along to the Senate, she said, “we lose our ability to be able to ask any further questions. And right now there are more questions than there are answers.”
Nothing in the Constitution says a crime must have occurred to warrant impeachment. Rather, it is up to any given Congress to determine what constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor, and in the past noncriminal acts have been so defined.
Mr. Mueller’s report documented in vivid detail about a dozen episodes in which Mr. Trump sought to beat back the investigation into Russian election interference to protect himself and his associates, including attempts to fire the special counsel and other Justice Department officials who could influence the case. But Mr. Mueller declined to indict the president or recommend impeachment because he said legal and factual constraints prevented him from reaching a traditional judgment about whether Mr. Trump’s actions amounted to obstruction of justice.
Instead, he nodded to Congress’s ability to judge for itself.
The cautious approach from House leaders and their allies, including Mr. Nadler, is not new. Without at least some bipartisan support, they have insisted, impeaching Mr. Trump simply may not be worth it, since the Republican-controlled Senate would be unlikely to convict and remove him from office.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, bolstered that assessment Monday afternoon.
“Well, look, I think it’s time to move on,” Mr. McConnell told reporters after an event in Owensboro, Ky. “This investigation was about collusion — there’s no collusion, no charges brought against the president on anything else. And I think the American people have had quite enough of it.”
In the meantime, House Democrats have tried to keep pressure on the Justice Department to hand over an unredacted copy of the more than 440-page Mueller report and all the evidence underlying it. Mr. Nadler issued a subpoena for those documents on Friday, and party leaders have consistently argued that whatever path they proceed on, Congress is entitled to all relevant material to make judgments.
The Justice Department offered last week to make a fuller version of the report available to House leaders — an offer Democrats rejected as too narrow — but has said it cannot legally share secretive grand jury information gathered as part of the investigation.