IMPEACHMENT: An investigation and subsequent trial in which the accused, if found guilty, will be removed from office. It does not mean the direct removal of said person from office.
DISCLAIMER: The Trump, Clinton, and Johnson impeachments are all extremely complex with years of context, this is a BRIEF overview of each.
In the Media:
Donald J. Trump: 45th president of the United States.
The many cases against Trump and their validity depend on who you ask and unlike previous presidents Clinton and Johnson we don’t have the hindsight of history. Like Clinton and Johnson, the motion to impeachment is more than the crime that he’s being brought upon; it’s a move to remove an unpopular president. Trump has been criticized for his policies that flirt with racism, his dealings with his family business, possible collusion with Russia, attempted obstruction of justice, inflammatory public statements, close encounters with white supremacy/neo-nazism, among other issues. Trump currently sits with a 49% approval rating, the highest it’s been all of 2019. Needless to say like Clinton and Johnson, in certain circles, Trump is not well-liked. After two whistleblowers have come forward accusing Trump of extorting the Ukranian government for investigations on his political adversary’s son, impeachment actions have been set in motion by the democratic party. Currently, impeachment is in progress as Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani gets a lawyer and the rest of the Trump administration scrambles with more and more leaks and whistleblowers coming out. But will this be as politically motivated as the other two impeachments?
In Contemporary History:
Bill Clinton: 42nd President of the United States.
Clinton was called to testify in the Paula Jones lawsuit, based on a claim that Clinton had sexually assaulted Jones, and under oath, he claimed that he was not having sexual relations with another woman, Monica Lewinsky. He specifically said “there is nothing going on between us” and when it was revealed that he was having or did have a relationship with her at the time of the testimony the use of the word “is” was called into question. If “is” meant he wasn’t having a relationship with her when he said that then he told the truth, but if “is” meant he never had a relationship with her, that would be a lie and he had lied under oath and that’s a crime worthy of impeachment. This became the charge of purgery that was brought up and the whole impeachment was based on. It went through Congress and following a vote Clinton was brought up with a 45 guilty and 55 not guilty rulings on perjury and 50/50 split on obstruction of justice and he was allowed to stay in power.
Andrew Johnson: 17th President of the United States.
During the Civil War, Andrew Johnson was the rare Union supporting southern Democrat so of course he would be the perfect VP for the president who wanted to save the union. He was chosen to create a bridge between the North and South during the war, but he was never supposed to be president. This all changed when Lincoln was assassinated. With Radical Republicans controlling Congress, Johnson’s time as president was not expected to last. Congress was looking for any chance to impeach Johnson hence the drafting and passing of the Tenure of Office bill which limits the president’s ability to fire members of the cabinet without congressional approval. The reason this was done was that Johnson wanted to fire his secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, who was a holdover from Lincoln. Johnson didn’t like this and he hired Lorenzo Thomas to fill Stanton’s role but Stanton didn’t see himself as fired due to the Tenure of Office bill. Stanton barricaded himself in his office and Congress enacted impeachment based on the idea that Andrew Johnson violated the Tenure of Office Act by appointing Lorenzo Thomas. Andrew Johnson was impeached but he was not removed because he had a 35-19 vote in congress (35 guilties and 19 not guilties), which is one below what was needed for removal, making him the first United States president to be impeached.