The 45th and current president of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, has joined two former American presidents in the unenviable, ‘exclusive’ club of presidents that were impeached.
The United States House of Representatives had impeached Mr. Trump on two charges. The Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee had approved two charges against Trump.
The first charge bordered on abuse of power. The president was accused of trying to pressure Ukraine to smear his political rival, Democratic presidential contender, Joe Biden.
The second charge says the president had obstructed Congress, by failing to co-operate with the House’s impeachment investigation.
Mr. Trump had denied any wrongdoing, saying, he had been treated worse than “those accused in the Salem witch trials.”
Meanwhile, the impeached president has two predecessors who had also suffered the scourge of impeachment — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
The impeachment of Andrew Johnson was initiated on February 24, 1868, when the United States House of Representatives resolved to impeach the 17th president of the United States, for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which were detailed in 11 articles of impeachment.
The primary charge against Johnson was ‘violation of the Tenure of Office Act,’ passed by Congress in March 1867, over his veto.
Specifically, Johnson had removed from office Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War — whom the Act was largely designed to protect — and attempted to replace him with Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas.
Earlier, while the Congress was not in session, Johnson had suspended Stanton and appointed General Ulysses S. Grant as Secretary of War ad interim.
Mr. Andrew Johnson was the first American president to be impeached on March 2–3, 1868, when the House formally adopted the articles of impeachment and forwarded them to the United States Senate for adjudication.
The trial in the Senate began three days later, with Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presiding.
On May 16, the Senate failed to convict Johnson on one of the articles, with the 35–19 vote in favour of conviction falling short of the necessary two-thirds majority by a single vote.
A 10-day recess was called before attempting to convict him on additional articles.
The delay did not change the outcome, however, as, on May 26, it failed to convict the president on two articles, both by the same margin, after which the trial was adjourned.
The impeachment of Bill Clinton was initiated on October 8, 1998, when the United States House of Representatives voted to commence impeachment proceedings against the 42nd president of the United States, for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The specific charges against Clinton were “lying under oath and obstruction of justice.” The charges stemmed from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones and from Clinton’s testimony denying that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
The catalyst for the president’s impeachment was the Starr Report, a September 1998 report prepared by Independent Counsel, Ken Starr, for the House Judiciary Committee.
On December 19, 1998, Clinton became the second American president to be impeached (the first being Andrew Johnson, who was impeached in 1868) when the House formally adopted articles of impeachment and forwarded them to the United States Senate for adjudication.
A trial in the Senate began in January 1999, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist presiding.
On February 12, Clinton was acquitted on both counts, as neither received the necessary two-thirds majority vote of the senators present for conviction and removal from office — in this instance 67.
On Article One, 45 senators voted to convict, while 55 voted for acquittal.
On Article Two, 50 senators voted to convict, while 50 voted for acquittal.
Clinton remained in office for the balance of his second term.