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Trump becomes third US President to be impeached. Here are the other two

Only three presidents, including Trump, have been successfully impeached in the 243-year history of the United States, and one had a near-miss.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 19, 2019 2:14:54 pm
donald trump impeachment, trump impeached, us president donald trump impeached, bill clinton monica lewinsky scandal impeachment, richard nixon watergate impeach, andrew johnson Former Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump

With the US House of Representatives formally charging Donald Trump on two counts of wrongdoing, the 73-year-old has become only the third President in the country’s 243-year history to be impeached. The other two in the infamous list were Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson.

Trump has been impeached on charges of abuse of power by trying to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 Presidential election and with obstruction of Congress. The Democratic-led House passed the abuse of power article of impeachment on a largely party-line 230-197 vote. The matter will now be sent to the Senate for a trial.

Why Trump’s impeachment means little

Only three presidents, including Trump, have been successfully impeached in the United States, and one had a near-miss. No President, however, has ever been convicted and chances remain slim for Trump to be the first.

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The impeachment of Donald Trump doesn’t necessarily indicate his removal from office. For that, the Senate needs to convict him ahead of early state presidential primary voting. While Democrats have the majority in the House, Republicans control the Senate and are expected to acquit Trump of the charges.

That would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate, meaning at least 20 Republicans would have to join Democrats in voting against Trump – and none have indicated they will.

“If a federal official commits a crime or otherwise acts improperly, the House of Representatives may impeach—formally charge—that official. If the official subsequently is convicted in a Senate impeachment trial, he is removed from office,” as put by the US Senate.

Andrew Johnson, 1868

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The first President of the United States to face impeachment inquiry was Andrew Johnson in 1868. Johnson, the vice president under Abraham Lincoln, climbed the rank after the former’s assassination.

By mid-1867, Johnson faced the ire of the Congress after he removed his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton from office, breaching the now redundant Tenure of Office Act. When the Congress later reinstated Stanton, Johnson fired Stanton and informed Congress of this action.

By next year, Republicans in the House of Representatives, pursued the first impeachment proceedings in the country. “The committee quickly produced charges that eventually became eleven articles of impeachment. Some of the charges were petty, but most centered on the president’s alleged violation of the Tenure of Office Act,” according to the US Senate.

Johnson, however, remained in office after being acquitted by the US Senate by one vote. 35 senators voted to convict the president of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” while 19 senators voted to acquit.

Bill Clinton, 1998

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Over a century later, then US President Bill Clinton faced impeachment in 1998 over his much-scandalised extra-marital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s lies under oath about his affair with Lewinsky and the subsequent revelations led independent counsel Ken Starr to file his report leading to Clinton’s impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice to cover up an affair with the intern.

Impeachment proceedings opened in October 1998 and in December, the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Clinton was later acquitted by the Senate with a vote of 55 not guilty to 45 guilty. The president accepted “responsibility for what I did wrong in my personal life” and pledged to push the country forward.

Richard Nixon, 1974

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Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974, and had to resign due to the Watergate scandal, before he could be impeached.

The Watergate scandal, that began to unravel following the raids on the Democratic National Committee’s offices in Washington, sealed the face of Nixon’s presidency. The firing of the Watergate prosecutor and illegal wiretapping of journalists and critics only intensified calls for impeachment.

President Richard Nixon first ordered his attorney general, and then the deputy, to fire the Watergate special prosecutor; they refused and quit on a convulsive weekend that gave history the Saturday Night Massacre. He also refused to hand over the taped phone calls that could indict him in the scandal.

In July 1974, three articles of impeachment against Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress were approved. Before the House could vote on impeachment, Nixon resigned on August that year.

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