- Former President Donald Trump is facing his second impeachment trial starting February 9.
- Trump was also impeached by the House in December 2019 . The Senate acquitted him on February 5.
- Only two presidents were impeached before Trump – Andrew Johnson in 1866 and Bill Clinton in 1998.
- Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached in 1974.
- Here’s how the process went for them and how it compares with today’s.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Former President Donald Trump in December 2019 became the third president in US history to be impeached and the first president to be impeached twice in January 2021.
Trump now faces his second impeachment trial, beginning February 9, after the Democratic-controlled House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection on the US Capitol on January 6.
Ten House Republicans, including the third-highest-ranking House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney, joined their Democratic colleagues and voted in favour of Trump’s impeachment.
The Senate is made up of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with the Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia sworn in on the same day as Biden. A two-thirds majority of 67 senators is required to convict a federal officer.
The Senate can still vote to convict Trump even after he leaves office, and it has the option to bar Trump from holding federal office ever again with a follow-up vote that would require support from only a simple majority. The incoming vice president, Kamala Harris, will be able to cast the tie-breaking 51st vote.
The House impeached Trump on two articles on December 18, 2019. These stemmed from Congress’ investigation into whether Trump abused his power by trying to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.
Congress has the power to impeach or remove presidents or other federal officials from office if enough lawmakers find that they have committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours.”
Three other presidents have faced impeachment proceedings, but only two of those three were impeached.
In 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached, charged with breaching the Tenure of Office Act, but the Senate narrowly acquitted him by one vote. In 1974, President Richard Nixon faced an impeachment inquiry, but he resigned before the House could impeach him. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached, but he too was acquitted by the Senate.
Here’s how the process went for each of the presidents who were impeached:
Johnson was the first sitting president to ever face impeachment proceedings.
It all began when he removed his secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, from office in 1867, which breached the Tenure of Office Act. The law meant he couldn’t fire any important officials without first getting the Senate’s permission. At first, he had suspended Stanton and replaced him, but when Congress intervened and reinstated Stanton, Johnson fired him on February 21, 1868.
Three days later, on February 24, 1868, the House of Representatives impeached Johnson by a vote of 126-47. The House said he’d violated the law and disgraced the US Congress.
From March to May 1868, over 11 weeks, the Senate tried Johnson’s case and finally voted to acquit him. The vote was 35 guilty to 19 not guilty. One more guilty vote would have met the required two-thirds that’s necessary for a conviction.
Clinton was the second president to face impeachment proceedings. In early 1994, he was dealing with scandals, beginning with a financial investigation known as “Whitewater.”
That same year, Paula Jones sued him, accusing the president of sexual harassment. Clinton argued he had presidential immunity from civil cases, but in 1997 the Supreme Court rejected his argument.
In January 1998, during Jones’ case, Clinton denied under oath that he’d ever had an affair with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky. But news of Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky got out.
In July 1998, Clinton testified about the allegations that he’d committed perjury by lying about his affair with Lewinsky. And by August, he’d acknowledged having an affair with Lewinsky.
Lewinsky had also recorded conversations of her talking about the affair, and the transcripts of the conversation went public in October 1998.
On October 8, 1998, just days after the tapes were released, the House of Representatives voted for impeachment proceedings to begin against Clinton. In a report released in September by the independent counsel Ken Starr, there were 11 grounds for impeachment.
On December 11, 1998, the House approved three articles of impeachment along party lines â€” alleging Clinton had lied to a grand jury, committed perjury by denying his relationship with Lewinsky, and obstructed justice. The next day, a fourth article was approved, which accused Clinton of abusing his power.
On December 19, 1998, the House impeached Clinton for two of the articles â€” perjury and obstruction of justice. The votes were 228-206 and 221-212, respectively, also largely along party lines. Despite being impeached, Clinton refused to step down.
Clinton was tried by the Senate and acquitted on February 12, 1999.
Trump was impeached in December 2019 on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump on September 24, following a whistleblower complaint claiming that the president abused his political power while seeking investigations into Democrats such as Biden.
House investigators looked into whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to try to pressure the country into conducting and publicly announcing an investigation into the Biden family.
Trump vehemently denied that there was any “quid pro quo” in his conversations with Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, and blasted House Democrats for the impeachment investigation, equating it to the Salem witch trials.
On December 18, 2019, the House voted along party lines, earning a majority to charge the president on both counts. The House passed the abuse-of-power article by a vote of 230 to 197 to 1 and the obstruction-of-Congress article by a vote of 229 to 198 to 1.
The House voted for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to formally submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate on January 15. US Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the impeachment trial.
Senators failed to approve a motion to call witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial with a vote of 51-49 against it.
The Senate, at the time, consisted of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents who caucused with Democrats.
On February 5, Trump was cleared of both articles of impeachment. On abuse of power, senators voted 52-48, with Sen. Mitt Romney breaking from the Republican Party to vote to convict the president. Every other Republican voted to acquit, while every Democrat voted to convict. On obstruction of Congress, senators voted straight down party lines, 53-47.
James Pasley and Pamela Engel
contributed to a previous version of this article.
Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-updates