You can’t escape the news coverage, so let’s take a closer look at the history of this whole impeachment thing.
Impeachment by the Numbers
- 20 officials have been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.
- 8 of those officials were found guilty in the Senate and removed from office.
- 4 resigned before the completion of a Senate trial.
- 8 were acquitted by the Senate.
What does the Constitution say?
The impeachment process has its basis in the Constitution.
To see the full text of these Articles, click here.
After taking office following President Lincoln’s assassination, President Johnson battled with Congress over many Reconstruction issues. These confrontations culminated with his violation of the Tenure of Office Act. This act stated that the president could not remove a government official without the approval of Congress. When President Johnson removed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Congress responded by drawing up impeachment charges for violating the act. On February 24, 1868, Andrew Johnson became the first president to be impeached by Congress.
In accordance with the U.S. Constitution, the House of Representatives brought up impeachment charges and the Senate tried the case. President Johnson’s impeachment trial lasted almost two months. During each day of the trial, a packed gallery of ticket holders watched the drama unfold in the Senate chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building. By May 16, 1868, the first vote was taken. The Senate voted 35 – 19 to remove President Johnson from office, falling one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority. Although President Johnson was impeached, he was not removed from office.
President Clinton faced two articles of impeachment: one for perjury after lying to a grand jury, and one for obstruction of justice. Both charges resulted from the cover up of an extramarital affair between the president and a White House intern. In the end, the Senate decided the president was not guilty on both counts, and President Clinton remained in office.
President Donald Trump faced two articles of impeachment. One for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress. Both charges centered on a phone call between the president and the Ukrainian president, in which President Trump seemingly withheld aid in return for his own political gain. The Senate found him not guilty.
What about Richard Nixon?
Richard Nixon halted the process before he was formally impeached. He was under investigation in the House of Representatives for a cover-up involving the Watergate Scandal (in which secret recording were made at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee). After his own party warned him they would vote him guilty of the impeachment charges, Nixon preempted the inevitable and resigned. He became the first and only president to resign from the office.
For a full list of impeached officials, click here.
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