The day before, U.S. President Donald Trump was impeached by a majority vote of the House of Representatives for “inciting insurrection. As a result, he became the only head of the White House to be impeached twice in one year. The vote on the second impeachment was due to charges of inciting a mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol when lawmakers officially recognized President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 victory. There were 232 congressmen in favor of the resolution, including 10 Republicans, and 197 congressmen against it. The document will now go to the Senate, which is on recess until Biden’s inauguration.
Trump’s first impeachment attempt
On September 26, 2019, Congress officially launched the first impeachment proceeding against Trump. This came after the U.S. House Intelligence Committee released the text of a complaint from an unnamed U.S. intelligence official. The complaint concerns Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, which took place on July 25. The investigation was related to rumors that Trump was seeking Zelensky’s help in investigating former Vice President Joseph Biden’s son Hunter.
In February 2020, U.S. senators, as part of their impeachment hearings, found Donald Trump not guilty on all counts of the congressional charge. More than half of the senators acquitted Donald Trump. A two-thirds vote was needed to impeach him.
Attempts to impeach the president in the United States
There have been six attempts to impeach a president in U.S. history. In 1860, James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States, could have been removed from office. He was suspected of bribery and bribing several congressmen. However, a specially convened committee of inquiry was unable to find grounds for impeachment. As a result, the case fell apart even before the vote in the House of Representatives.
Just a few years later, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, also became a subject of a parliamentary inquiry. He had no trouble with the law, only took many unpopular measures, like categorically refusing to sign a law allowing Southern states into the Union (this was right after the Civil War). He also vetoed the black civil rights bill. Congress was strongly dissatisfied with Johnson’s work and in 1868 initiated impeachment against him. The case passed the House of Representatives, but the Senate failed to get two-thirds of the vote. The president stayed in his seat, and almost 100 years later the law was adopted, according to which only a criminal offense can be a basis for removing a head of the state from power.
Richard Nixon, perhaps, was the closest to impeachment. Not only did the intelligence services wiretap his political rivals at the request of the 37th president of the United States, but then they also covered up Nixon’s apparent crime for a long time. They didn’t have time to declare a formal impeachment: the president resigned, but his successor Gerald Ford pardoned his former boss with the first executive order.
Finally, the last time the word “impeachment” was heard on Capitol Hill so often was in 1998-1999. The 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton, could have lost his office because of perjury under oath. During the trial related to the Paula Jones sex scandal, the head of states stated that he did not have sexual relations with intern Monica Lewinsky. It turned out that this was not true. And the situation then resembled the present one. The Republicans clung to the formal reason, which had little to do with the activities of the president, and tried to throw Clinton out of the White House. It did not play to their advantage either: they lost the 1998 and 2000 parliamentary elections by a landslide, giving George Bush Jr. a tough first year in office with a “blue” Congress.