Some Democrats who will take the House of Representatives majority in January are willing to say that US President Donald Trump may have committed impeachable offences. But that doesn't mean they will try to impeach him - at least not yet. Democrats have been extremely cautious about the "I" word.

1 Other shoes to drop

Prosecutors asserted that Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, committed campaign finance violations "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump. It's the first time they have directly tied Trump to a federal crime. There is likely more to come. Charges are expected related to emails stolen during the 2016 presidential election that could implicate some in Trump's circle. And Mueller could complete a larger report. If Democrats move to impeach Trump, it will likely be for more than just campaign finance violations.

2 It could backfire


Democrats are cognisant of the price that Republicans paid for Bill Clinton's impeachment 20 years ago. Republicans were seen as over-reaching, and that helped boost Clinton's poll numbers and win Democrats seats in the 1998 Midterm election. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was under pressure to impeach George W. Bush in 2006. She has said that if Democrats had spent their first two years in the majority trying to impeach Bush, voters may never have elected Barack Obama in 2008.

3 Republican buy-in needed

Pelosi has called impeachment a "divisive activity" that needs buy-in from both parties to work. "If the case is there, then that should be self-evident to Democrats and Republicans," she said. Congressman Jerry Nadler, of the House Judiciary Committee, has said there would have to be at least some Republican support. Mueller would have to produce a lot more evidence of Trump's involvement in crimes. No Republicans have so far come close to supporting impeachment.

4 Checking Trump in other ways

Democrats have tried to keep the focus on improving infrastructure and lowering healthcare costs while investigating the President.

5 What happens next

Even if the House approved impeachment, the Constitution requires an unlikely two-thirds of the GOP-led Senate to convict.

- AP