Democrats face critical decision on adding new charges to articles of impeachment
Donald Trump (AFP / Nicholas Kamm)

House Democrats are divided over whether to add special counsel Robert Mueller's evidence to the impeachment process.

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday will hear evidence turned up during testimony from the impeachment inquiry focusing on President Donald Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, but some Democrats want to expand the process to include the Russia investigation, reported The Daily Beast.

“This office has been abused and damaged in profound ways,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “I personally would be for holding him accountable for every bit of it. Not for every grievance we have — I wouldn't include his bad behavior or his offensive rhetoric — but some specific actions that I believe that have abused authority and rise to the level of impeachable offense, in my view, would go well beyond the current Ukraine scandal.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made clear she changed her mind on impeachment after the whistleblower report moved public polling in favor of the constitutional process, which didn't happen after Mueller released his report and then testified about his findings before Congress.

“The polls went from 59 percent opposed to impeachment, to 34 in favor, to now even,” Pelosi said.

Now that public support has moved toward supporting impeachment, House Democrats are weighing whether to expand the probe to include wrongdoing turned up by Mueller's investigation.

“From the very beginning, we were clear that the process should be clear, strategic, and efficient,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), a first-year lawmaker from a district Trump won.

Slotkin helped persuade Pelosi to support the impeachment inquiry in September, but she wants it to focus solely on the whistleblower's complaint.

“We got that strategic focus on specific articles, hone in on those," she said. "Don't take a kitchen-sink approach, really think strategically, and then efficient. This doesn't need to be an 18-month process. I have made myself clear that it should be a very tight group of articles, very limited, very focused.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said Sunday that one article of impeachment could be based on Mueller's findings to establish a "pattern" of wrongdoing by Trump, and other Democrats agree that could be wise.

“If there is an obstruction article, how do you ignore documented evidence of obstruction by the special counsel, for which he essentially said, ‘I’m not charging because of the Justice Department policy regarding the charging of a president,’ the Congress has remedies available,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “To me, that's just like, a great big blinking light that says, yeah, you really need to look at that.”

Some Democrats believe that including a Mueller-based article could give moderates something to vote against, but some aides believe the special counsel's report is "toxic."

“Largely, there’s no support of idea of bringing up articles about Mueller,” said one Democratic aide. “Thirty-one Democratic members of Congress in Trump districts are going to be living with the decisions he makes for the next year."