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The history of the impeachment process through the eyes of someone who's been through it

Former Congressman David Skaggs talked about what he calls the most significant vote of his career.

DENVER — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday the House will launch a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump over allegations that he pressured the leader of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden's family. 

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The last time a President was impeached was in 1998. President Bill Clinton was impeached but not convicted. David Skaggs was there.

"It was a very sober, grim time in the House," Skaggs said.

He was a Democratic Congressman from Colorado making what he said was the most important vote of his life.

"There is - other than going to war, I think - no vote that a member may have to take that is of greater significance," Skaggs said.

Only Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton have been impeached. Metropolitan State University of Denver Professor Norm Provizer said if impeachment happened more often, it would have a terrible effect.

"That would completely wreck the system of government that we have. I mean that would cause everything to fall apart," Provizer said.

When Clinton was impeached, Skaggs said it destroyed relationships in Congress across the aisle.

"The underlying ingredient for cooperation and collaboration and compromise, which is the business of the place when it's working the way it's supposed to, really were damaged," Skaggs said.

In 1998, Republicans knew it would be difficult to get enough impeachment votes in the Senate to remove Clinton from office, similar to Democrats now who are against President Donald Trump. 

But, Skaggs said that doesn't mean impeachment shouldn't be pursued -- for history's sake.

RELATED: Colorado Congressional delegation responds to impeachment inquiry of Trump

"The constitutional responsibility to put a marker down that the behavior that's involved in this administration by the President cannot go unchecked and uncalled out," Skaggs said.

Provizer said it can be important just to put something in the record.

"Sometimes you want to indict someone to show wrongdoing even if you don't think you can get a guilty conviction," Provizer said.

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