Impeachment: A long process It is the ultimate punishment for a president: impeachment.But it is a long and complicated route to removing a political official from office and never in more than 200 years of U.S. history has it happened to a president for”treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution as reasons for impeachment.
Article II, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution specifies the procedures to be used to remove the president, vice president or other officials from office. The rarely used procedure is complex, reflecting 18th-century formalities.
The process opens in various ways through the House. In one process, the House votes on an inquiry of impeachment which would direct the Judiciary Committee to investigate the charges against the president. If a member of Congress takes the more serious step of introducing a resolution of impeachment, all other work must stop until a decision is reached.
Either the president is cleared of the charges through an investigation, or the committee votes to send articles of impeachment to the full House.
If the House approves articles of impeachment, a trial is conducted in the Senate, presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. At the conclusion, the Senate may vote to simply remove the official from office, or to remove him or her from office and bar from holding any other federal office. Removal requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, respected by both parties as a thoughtful lawmaker, said on CNN that impeachment could follow if Clinton were found to have urged a former White House intern to lie under oath.
“If he (independent counsel Kenneth Starr) verifies the authenticity of these charges, impeachment might very well be an option,” the Illinois Republican said.

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