High Crimes and Misdemeanors
The U.S. Constitution provides impeachment as the method for removing the president, vice president, federal judges, and other federal officials from office. The impeachment process begins in the House of Representatives and follows these steps: 1.The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings and, if necessary, prepares articles of impeachment. These are the charges against the official. 2.If a majority of the committee votes to approve the articles, the whole House debates and votes on them. 3.If a majority of the House votes to impeach the official on any article, then the official must then stand trial in the Senate. 4.For the official to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict the official. Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office and, if the Senate so decides, may be forbidden from holding governmental office again.
The impeachment process is political in nature, not criminal. Congress has no power to impose criminal penalties on impeached officials. But criminal courts may try and punish officials if they have committed crimes.
The Constitution sets specific grounds for impeachment. They are “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” To be impeached and removed from office, the House and Senate must find that the official committed one of these acts.