The commonality of impeachment

Rep/ Al Green introduced HR 498 - it failed 332 v 95

The concept and function of an impeachment of any elected official is a serious act. The ramifications are permanent and could ripple across the nation for generations.

It is so substantial that the only President to face the a likely successful impeachment vote in the Senate, Richard Nixon,resigned rather than allow the process to move forward. Still the process was significant enough that millenials born 40 years after the fact still connect that President with impeachment.

Unlike what may be the perception promoted routinely in media at this time, many Presidents have had calls for impeachment against them. Every President since 1980 have had at least one attempt to raise support for impeachment against them. That list of Presidents is, in order: Ronald Reagan; George H. Bush; William J. Clinton, George W. Bush; Barack Obama; and Donald J. Trump.

2 out of 45 Presidents

Looking at history, only 2 Presidents have ever had a Resolution of impeachment reach the Senate and voted on. In both cases the call for removal failed. Those Presidents were Andrew Johnson in 1868, and William(Bill) Clinton in 1999. To differing degrees both trials reinforced the understanding that mere political disagreement is not enough to remove any sitting elected President.

This is especially true of Bill Clinton. The affair with White House aide Monica Lewinsky, while holding elected office and in the Oval Office itself, the subsequent allegation of perjury (including the infamous definition of “IS”), and the charge of obstruction of justice for attempting to silence and cover-up the affair, all failed to reach the required two-thirds vote in the Senate.

The charges did gain votes of 45 and 50 in favor of impeachment, largely on partisan political lines. But just 2 years later,after leaving the Presidency due to term-limits, Clinton accepted the suspension of his license to practice law on the grounds of obstruction in a separate case – Jones v. Clinton – 520 U.S.681 (1997).

The reason impeachment is so difficult to obtain, though so common, is that it calls for the commission and conviction for high crimes and misdemeanors. How this is defined is somewhat arbitrary. There is no definition of this clause in the Constitution. Generally it is held to mean a gross criminal act, but that is highly debated. De facto it has proven to NOT mean perjury, obstruction, circumvention of Congress,and/or moral standing as seen with Jackson and Clinton.


About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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