Has any US President been impeached before? Who?
Impeachment is very rare in US history, only three US Presidents have been impeached in the history of the US and no US President has been impeached twice.
On Wednesday the House of Representatives will meet to vote on articles of impeachment for President Donald J Trump for a second time. To be impeached, a President or other federal official must have committed one of the violations described by the Constitution as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
In the US’s nearly 250 years of history only three Presidents have faced impeachment, Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump but none of them were convicted by the Senate, yet. President Trump is set to be the first US President to be impeached twice, but whether he will be convicted this time is up in the air.
In his previous impeachment Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was strongly against the impeachment but this time he has signaled that he is open to holding an impeachment hearing. Usually the members of the President’s party are loath to go against him, but in all three cases the President’s party has lost the subsequent presidential election after an impeachment.
On the contrary in the last two impeachments, the party that pushed for impeachment had poor results in congressional elections.
President Andrew Johnson (1865 – 1869)
Andrew Johnson, a Union Democrat, was Vice President to President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, and assumed office after Lincoln was assassinated. He opposed the approach to Reconstruction, which he felt was too harsh, imposed upon the former Confederacy to bring them back in to the nation. He vetoed legislation that was part of that effort bringing him into conflict with the Congress.
Congress moved to impeach when he replaced Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was a Lincoln appointee, who along with General Grant worked to undermine the president's Southern policy from within his own administration. Congress produced 11 articles of impeachment, which alleged that Johnson had violated the Tenure of Office Act, a law intended to limit presidential power to remove federal appointees from office. They claimed that he couldn’t replace Stanton without the Senate’s approval.
Johnson was impeached by a two-thirds super majority of the House of Representatives but stayed in office after seven Senate Republicans decided to vote with Senate Democrats to keep him in office.
President Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
President Bill Clinton’s impeachment started with a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones against Clinton that led to him lying under oath about a sexual affair he was having with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. An Independent Counsel Ken Starr was appointed to investigate and his 1998 report led to Clinton’s impeachment. The specific charges against Clinton were lying under oath and obstruction of justice.
Clinton was not removed from office by the Senate, even though many Senators felt he had behaved badly, they decided it was not at the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
President Donald Trump (2017 –2021)
President Donald Trump was impeached in February, 2020 on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. His impeachment stemmed from a phone call he had with the recently elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, in July of 2019. In the phone call Trump made a request for the Ukrainian President to investigate Burisma, an energy company that Joe Biden’s son worked for in exchange for a meeting between the two Presidents.
Trump was acquitted in the Senate along near party lines in a bitterly partisan process. The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump on abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him on obstruction of Congress, with Mitt Romney the sole Republican to vote to convict.
Trump may face new impeachment charges on Wednesday a mere week before he is to leave office. The Senate could hold hearings as soon as 19 January, one day before the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
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