With a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings expected to be delivered within hours, Democrats maintained that it is too early to raise the spectre of impeaching US President Donald Trump but suggested that they are keeping their options open.
Republicans fired back that Democrats would probably move to impeach the President no matter what.
Mueller submitted a confidential report to Attorney-General William Barr, who is reviewing the document and has notified congressional leaders that he will soon send them a summary of Mueller's "principal conclusions." Officials have said those conclusions could be shared as early as today, and House Democrats held an "emergency conference call" yesterday to discuss their strategy for the coming days.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D, said it is "way too early to speculate" about impeachment. He said he still believes Trump obstructed justice, although "whether they're criminal obstructions is another question."
"What Congress has to do is look at a broader picture. We have the responsibility of protecting the rule of law ... so that our democratic institutions are not greatly damaged by this president," Nadler said on CNN.
He maintained that members of the Trump team colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. "We know there was collusion. Why there's been no indictments, we don't know," Nadler said.
Democrats will "try to negotiate, we'll try everything else first," but if they have to, they will issue subpoenas and are "absolutely" willing to go to the Supreme Court if necessary, Nadler said.
Asked how long they are willing to wait for the Justice Department to provide the full Mueller report, he replied, "It won't be months."
Senator Ted Cruz, R, quickly seized on Nadler's comments, arguing on CNN that they show Democrats are "immediately pivoting away" from the report and plan to move ahead with plans to impeach Trump no matter what.
"They fully intend to impeach the President," Cruz said. "What they're basically saying is they're going to impeach the President for being Donald Trump."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D, said impeachment would be "so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path."
"He's just not worth it," she said of Trump.
Other Democrats joined Nadler in renewing their calls for the Mueller report to be made public.
On ABC News, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Congressman Adam Schiff, D, reiterated that there was "significant evidence of collusion."
Responding to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's tweet that Schiff should "apologise for his mistake" in asserting that there was collusion, Schiff said, "Giuliani would be wise to wait until the report is made public" before making such claims.
"If they're so confident that the report is going to exonerate them, they should fight to make the report public," the Democrat said. "I suspect we'll find those words of transparency hollow."
Schiff said he believed Mueller's team erred in relying on written responses from the President, rather than an interview, because those generally reflect "more what the lawyer has to say than what the individual has to say." He added: "The President is someone who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth for long periods of time,"