The Impeachment Proceedings That Came Before

The Impeachment Proceedings That Came Before

2021-01-13 21:57:30

In the first two centuries of the United States government, the House of Representatives carried out just two presidential impeachment proceedings.

By the time the sun set on Wednesday, it had performed three in just 25 years – two of them in the past year and a half, against the first-ever president to be impeached twice.

Welcome to history.

A majority of the House voted Wednesday afternoon to impeach President Trump on charges of provoking an uprising, just 13 months after the chamber accused him of abuse of power and congressional obstruction, here's a rundown of what happened the previous times.

In September 2019, speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke announced that the House would open an impeachment investigation against Mr Trump.

The impeachment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, began in October 1998 in response to the revelation that he had had a sexual relationship with a White House intern.

The allegations did not directly relate to his misconduct against the intern, Monica Lewinsky – who was 22, nearly three decades younger than Mr. Clinton when it began – but to the allegation that Mr. Clinton had lied about it under oath and others had encouraged to do the same.

“I had no sexual relationship with that woman,” said Mr. Clinton in January 1998, before admitting months later that he had. & # 39; I never told anyone to lie, not once. Never."

On December 19, 1998 – 21 years, almost to this day, before a Democratic-controlled house would vote to impeach Mr. Trump – the Republican-controlled house Mr Clinton deposed on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. The votes were 228 to 206 on the perjury charge (five Democrats voted to impeach and five Republicans voted against it) and 221 to 212 on the obstruction charge (five Democrats voted in favor and 12 Republicans voted against).

The House voted against impeachment on a second charge of perjury and power abuse.

On February 12, 1999, the Senate acquitted Mr. Clinton 55 to 45 for perjury, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats and 50-50 on the charge of obstruction, and five Republicans joining Democrats. A two-thirds majority would have been required to convict and remove Mr. Clinton from office.

Congress never voted to impeach President Richard M. Nixon, a Republican, but only because he resigned before he could.

The impeachment proceedings stemmed largely from the Watergate scandal, which began in 1972 when Nixon employees broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters. That break-in was part of a massive, coordinated effort to influence the upcoming election, which Nixon ultimately won in one of the greatest landslides in American history.

The immediate catalyst for the House Judiciary Committee's decision to begin the impeachment process, on October 30, 1973, was the so-called Saturday Night Massacre 10 days earlier. That was the night Nixon, furious about the Watergate investigation, ordered the firing of the special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Two officials he ordered Cox to be fired refused to do so and resigned; the third, Advocate General Robert Bork, obeyed.

The committee eventually approved three articles of impeachment – obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress – and referred them to the House of Representatives in July 1974. support: 28 to 10, with seven Republicans on the committee joining all 21 Democrats.

But before the full Parliament could finish its hearings and vote on impeachment, Nixon announced his resignation on August 8, 1974 – a day after Republican leaders in Congress told him that his support in his own party had crumbled and that he would almost certainly be both impeached and convicted.

More than any president impeached after him, Andrew Johnson was not actually charged with a specific violation of the law, but because of a widespread power struggle between the White House and Congress.

Johnson – a Democrat and white supremacist who was Abraham Lincoln's vice president and became president when Lincoln was assassinated – had spent much of his term clashing with the Republican-controlled Congress on Reconstruction. Among other things, he vetoed the Freedmen & # 39; s Bureau Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which aimed to grant US citizenship to former slaves; Congress subsequently overruled its veto on the Civil Rights Act.

In March 1868, the House approved 11 articles of impeachment against Johnson. The main charge was that he violated the Tenure of Office Act of 1867, which Congress enacted in an explicit effort to keep him from firing pro-Reconstruction officials Lincoln had appointed. The law stated that the president needed Senate approval to fire Senate-confirmed executive officials, and Johnson defied it by firing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

In May 1868, Johnson was removed from office by a single vote. The Senate – then made up of 54 members, because there were only 27 states at the time – voted 35 to 19 to convict, but needed 36 votes for the required two-thirds majority.

He served the remainder of his tenure, just under a year.


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