WASHINGTON (AFP) - Democrats are not yet ready to initiate impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump, the party's congressional leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday (May 23), warning that such a course of action would be "very divisive."
The powerful House speaker, whose high-profile rivalry with Trump spilled into open warfare this week, also said the president himself is "disappointed" that Democrats have not launched formal steps to remove him from office because such a move could fire up his conservative base and help his re-election effort.
But she reiterated her position that impeachment was not presently the path forward for holding Trump to account.
"We can get the facts to the American people through our investigation," she told reporters, referring to ongoing congressional probes that Trump has resisted.
"It may take us to a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment or not, but we're not at that place."
Pelosi reaffirmed her charge that Trump is engaged in a "cover-up" related to alleged efforts to obstruct justice regarding the special counsel's probe of Moscow's election interference and Trump's connections with Russia, but she cautioned that "impeachment is a very divisive place to go in our country."
"The House Democratic caucus is not on a path to impeachment - and that's where he wants us to be," the veteran Democrat said.
Several Democratic lawmakers and 2020 presidential contenders are eager to assert constitutionally mandated congressional oversight powers as a check against the executive.
But there are concerns the impeachment tactic could backfire, energising Trump's base ahead of the election.
"The white House is just crying out for impeachment," Pelosi added.
The speaker also repeated her concern that Trump on Wednesday walked away from negotiations aimed at concluding a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan because he could not deal with Democrats on policy until "phony investigations" are brought to a close.
Trump weighed into that debate again early Thursday in a series of tweets.
"The Democrats are getting nothing done in Congress," Trump wrote.
"It is not possible for them to investigate and legislate at the same time" because Democrats are focused on a "fishing expedition" regarding the Russia report, he added.