If the President is allegedly involved in misconduct while in office, Congress may bring forth charges against them using the impeachment process. The US Constitution mandates the House of Representatives with the task of impeaching the President while mandating the Senate to carry out the trial. The chief factors that may lead to the impeachment of the president are bribery, treason, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
The Presidential Impeachment Process
To successfully impeach a president, the Senate must convict the accused on grounds presented by the House of Representatives, which means that the Senate is the body that must find the president guilty of the crimes. A two-thirds vote in the Senate is required to convict the President. The trials held in the Senate are chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Impeachment is uncommon in the US and more often than not results in an acquittal by the Senate. The Presidential impeachment cases in US history are looked at below.
Andrew Johnson, the 17th United States President, was impeached by the House of Representatives on February 24, 1868. Johnson was accused of violating the Tenure of Office Act of 1867. The act necessitated that the President seek Senate approval before dismissing any member of his cabinet who had been confirmed by the upper chamber of Congress. Johnson had dismissed the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, the only member of his cabinet with allegiance to the Radical Republicans’ program for reconstruction. After eleven weeks of trial by the Senate, Johnson was acquitted by margin of only one vote.
Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, and also faced impeachment while in office. The events leading up to his impeachment began on June 17, 1972, when five burglars were arrested breaking into the Democratic National Committee offices housed in the Watergate office complex. Subsequent investigations uncovered that the burglars were under the employment of the committee to re-elected President Richard Nixon.
Further investigations placed senior officials in the Nixon administration at the center of various illegal activities and raised questions over Nixon’s involvement in those crimes. For the efficient investigation, Senate required President Nixon to release tapes, and after his refusal to release some of the tapes, the House of Representatives initiated impeachment proceedings on the grounds of obstruction of justice. President Nixon made history by becoming the first president to resign on August 8, 1974, and did not stand Senate trial.
The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was impeached on December 19, 1998 by the House of Representatives. Clinton’s woes began when he was sued for sexual harassment by Paula Jones who was a former worker. Clinton was alleged to have had an affair with a white house worker named Monica Lewinsky, and Paula’s lawyers subpoenaed Monica to testify against the president. Monica Lewinsky denied having an affair with Clinton, but tapes recorded by a fellow workmate, Linda Tripp of her confessions to the affair were obtained by the authorities. Clinton denied having an affair to a grand jury investigating his conduct. Kenneth Starr, an Independent Counsel, submitted a report to Congress on September 9, 1998, to prove that Clinton had committed obstruction of justice in the Jones’ trial and ten other impeachable offenses. The House of Representative impeached Clinton on 2 of these charges, but he was acquitted by Senate and subsequently apologized to the nation.