Head of State on Trial: History of the Presidential Impeachments

(President Andrew Johnson Colorization by Reddit user u/Color969
President William Clinton Portrait from whitehousehistory.org
President Donald Trump Portrait from whitehousegiftshop.com
presidents Photoshop collage by Caleb Williams)

With the recent impeachment and dismissal of charges of President Donald Trump, it is the perfect time to look at the history of the all of the Presidents of the United States that have been impeached.

Image result for president andrew johnson

The first president to ever be impeached was the 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson. During the reconstruction period in the post-Civil War south, there was intense debate between Congress and the President about who would establish policy while the nation was healing and rebuilding. President Johnson had inherited the cabinet that was assembled by President Abraham Lincoln, including Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Stanton was a radical Republican who was loyal to congress. In order to ensure that figures like Stanton, that would give congress a leg up in the executive branch would not be fired by the president, they passed the Tenure of Office act of 1867, that said that Johnson could not dismiss a government official without the consent of congress.

Johnson did this anyway, leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives. At the time, there were 27 states, with a total of 54 senators. After the trial commenced, the vote came out with 35 senators voting guilty, and 19 voting not guilty. In order to remove a president from office, you need to have a 2/3’s majority in order to remove them. If just one more senator had voted against Johnson, he would have been removed from office. (more info here https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/president-andrew-johnson-impeached)

Image result for president richard nixon

A common misconception is that President Richard Nixon was impeached for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. However, he resigned before congress had the opportunity to impeach him, although he certainly would have been.

Image result for president william clinton portrait

President William Clinton was the second U.S. President to be impeached. He was charged with lying under oath and obstructing congress. The lies were related to the nature of his relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, which was forever immortalized in his famous words, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” The obstruction charges were the subsequent cover up of that situation. 258 of the 435 representatives voted for impeachment, including 31 Democrats that sided against the president. However, just like in President Johnson’s trial, the vote did not get through the Senate and President Clinton finished out his term.

Image result for president donald j trump

The third and most recent impeachment was the impeachment of 45th President, Donald Trump. Contrary to popular belief, this impeachment was a separate issue from the suspect Russia collusion as described in the Muller Report. This impeachment focused on an obstruction of power that was used in relation to the Ukraine, and the subsequent obstruction of Congress that followed. President Trump allegedly threatened to withhold military aid and and a visit to the White House from the President of Ukraine unless he announced an investigation into Joseph Biden, former United States Vice President and political opponent of Donald Trump. The impeachment vote went through the House of Representatives, although it did not win over a single Republican vote. In fact, the Republicans won over 3 (or 4 depending on if you count Tulsi Gabbard) Democrat votes. When the vote hit the Republican majority Senate, it didn’t even hit a 50/50 majority, let alone a 2/3’s majority. Only one Republican, Mitt Romney, voted against President Trump in the Senate. (more info here https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/18/house-is-voting-impeach-trump-what-happens-next/?arc404=true)

So what do you think? Were these impeachments justified? Should any of these presidents been kicked out of office? Comment below and let me know what you think 🙂

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