U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has in recent days publicly flirted with the idea of impeaching President Donald Trump, but so far has stayed outside the ranks of lawmakers openly calling for removing Trump from office.
"Let me be very clear: the president's behavior, as far as his obstruction of justice, the things that he is doing, it's in plain sight, it cannot be denied -- ignoring subpoenas, obstruction of justice," Pelosi said Thursday to reporters.
However, the House Speaker stopped short of calling for impeachment.
"I do think that impeachment is a very divisive place to go in our country," Pelosi said. "Get the facts to the American people in our investigation ... it may take us to a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment, but we're not at that place."
Speaking of the myriad investigations underway against Trump, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua: "Even though Pelosi does not favor impeachment, the pressure within her caucus is growing as Trump refuses to cooperate with House investigators and does not turn over needed documents," West said.
"Pelosi talks about impeachment because so much of the Democratic base favors strong action against Trump," West said.
Indeed, over 30 lawmakers in the House Democratic caucus have openly supported starting an impeachment inquiry against the president.
"I think Pelosi is trying to keep as many options available as possible," Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire, told Xinhua.
"While she's said she doesn't think the House should start impeachment proceedings, she also hasn't said or done anything that would completely shut that down," Galdieri said, speaking of Pelosi.
"My guess is that she's following where her caucus is -- if and when the members elected from suburban districts that had tended to be Republican start calling for impeachment, she may become more open to it," Galdieri said.
"I also suspect she thinks a slow process ...is better than a rush to impeach," Galdieri said.
Despite the rhetoric, experts said Democrats fret that impeachment could backfire.
"If Congress launches an impeachment inquiry, it could backfire by mobilizing the Republican base. That happened with Democrats in 1998 when President (Bill) Clinton was impeached. Democrats were upset and turned out in the next election to protect their president. The same could happen with Republicans in 2020," West said.
TRUMP FURIOUS, DENIES COVER-UP
In response to this ongoing war of words all week, Trump on Thursday unleashed a fury of personal insults on Pelosi, calling her "crazy Nancy" at a White House event, even going so far as to question her sanity.
"She's a mess," Trump said.
"I have been watching her for a long period of time. She's not the same person. She's lost it," Trump said.
Pelosi earlier this week accused Trump of engaging in a "cover-up," saying "we do believe that it's important to follow the facts. We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States. And we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up."
Trump has denied being engaged in a cover-up, telling reporters on Wednesday that he doesn't "do cover-ups" and blasting Democrats for what he said is wasting taxpayers' time and money by launching endless investigations that are tantamount to a political witch hunt.
The Mueller report, as a result of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to clinch the 2016 elections, failed to produce a smoking gun, despite costing taxpayers tens of millions of U.S. dollars, Trump has repeatedly noted.
"This whole thing was a take-down attempt," Trump said Wednesday at a press conference as he lambasted Democrats for what he said was wasting precious time that could be used to legislate.