House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shied away from advocating for impeachment in response to former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
"The American people now realize more fully the crimes that were committed against our Constitution," Pelosi said in the Capitol of Mueller's testimony. "It is a crossing of a threshold in terms of the public awareness of what happened," she later said during a news conference following Mueller's testimony.
But she stopped short of advocating for impeachment right now.
"My position has always been, whatever decision we made in that regard would have to be with our strongest possible hand, and we still have some matters outstanding in the courts," Pelosi said, arguing that Democrats needed more information before considering impeachment. "Watergate was when the got the information in the tapes that broke the case."
"If we go down that path, we go in the strongest possible way," Pelosi said. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler also said his committee would go to court Thursday to seek access to grand jury material in the Mueller report and to enforce a subpoena against former White House Counsel Don McGahn to try to get him to testify.
"Today was a watershed day in telling the facts to the American people. With those facts we can proceed," Nadler said — although he, too, stopped short of calling for impeachment.
Pelosi's response comes after Mueller testified about his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and the president's attempts to impede his probe. During the hearings, Mueller reiterated his investigation did not exonerate President Trump on obstruction of justice and said that his investigation was not a "witch hunt," the president's commonly used term for the Mueller probe.
Democrats largely focused on the portion of Mueller's report dealing with possible obstruction by the president, while Republicans expressed outrage over the fact that Mueller did not clear the president of obstruction and questioned the origins of the investigation itself.
Mr. Trump addressed Mueller's testimony before departing for a fundraiser in Wheeling, West Virginia Wednesday evening. The president told reporters that "we had a very good day today." He called the Republican representatives who questioned Mueller "incredible warriors" who "defended our country."
"This was a devastating day for Democrats," Mr. Trump argued. About Mueller, he said: "It was one of the worst performances in the history of our country."
When CBS News correspondent Paula Reid noted that Mueller said Mr. Trump could be indicted after leaving office, Mr. Trump responded that this was "fake news" and that she was "not an honest reporter." In fact, Mueller did say that it was possible for the president to be indicted after leaving office.
Schiff commented on Mr. Trump's comments in the press conference, saying that Mueller "directly refuted" the president's common claim that the investigation was a "witch hunt" and a "hoax."