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US is in 'constitutional crisis', House speaker says
[WASHINGTON] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the US is in a "constitutional crisis" triggered by President Donald Trump's refusal to comply with congressional inquiries into his actions, mainly in connection with the Russian election interference probe.
"Trump and his Administration's decision to ignore the oath of office has triggered a constitutional crisis," Ms Pelosi, the country's most powerful Democratic politician, said on Twitter.
"It's appalling that the Administration is an obstacle to protecting our elections & getting the truth for the American people," she said.
Mr Trump and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives have been locked in a bitter standoff since the publication late last month of the partially redacted Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that brought Mr Trump to office.
The report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that Mr Trump criminally colluded with Russia, but Democrats have been hotly disputing Mr Trump's assertion that it also exonerated him of trying to obstruct justice.
With substantial powers to run their own investigations, House Democrats have been demanding a full and unredacted copy of the Mueller report, as well as the President's tax returns.
Mr Trump has ordered his officials in the Treasury and Justice departments not to comply, putting pressure on the Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings that would grant them greater powers, despite the reluctance of many to take such a divisive and politically fraught path.
The Democrats are instead using an obscure legal move known as "inherent contempt" to try to force Attorney General William Barr to release the full report.
Ms Pelosi told reporters the Democrats want to organise a full vote on the move "as soon as possible."
In a sign that the showdown between the White House and the Democrats is not about to ease off, Ms Pelosi said "there may be some other contempt of Congress issues that we might want to deal with at the same time".
But she was once again reluctant to commit to an impeachment process, saying Democrats "won't go any faster than the facts take us or any slower than the facts take us".
"Impeachment is one of the most divisive things you can do, dividing a country, unless you really have your case with great clarity for the American people," she said.