The Impeachment Of A President: How It Could All End

1. He resigns

As the import of the impeachment vote sinks in, Mr Clinton loses the support of Congressional Democrats and the country and is persuaded, despite himself, to resign.

2. He's forced out

A Senate trial is held. Sufficient Democrat senators are convinced of the gravity of the President's conduct and its harmfulness for the country and provide the two-thirds majority necessary to convict. The President is forced out and replaced by Al Gore.

3. He's tried but acquitted

A Senate trial is held. Mr Clinton's lawyers satisfy the Democrats that the offences cannot be proved. Their vote holds solid and Mr Clinton is acquitted: he remains in office. Like Andrew Johnson in 1868, he has been impeached, but not removed. He claims victory.

4. He is a lame duck

White House strikes a deal between now and the new Congressional session in January. The Senate convenes and immediately adjourns, accepting something tantamount to a presidential plea- bargain entailing a strong censure, perhaps a fine, but no further punishment. Mr Clinton is wounded, but not slain.

5. He fights on

The White House fights on constitutional grounds, contesting, perhaps, the right of the Senate to try the President on the basis of charges approved by a House of Representatives whose mandate has expired and members who were voted out of office (in the November elections) before they voted on impeachment. Long court fight ensues.