List of American Presidents Who Have Gone Through Impeachment Process

December 23, 2019
First Published On: December 23, 2019

This is the second impeachment of a US President in just 21 years. 45th US President Donald Trump is charged with high crimes and misdemeanors. It is the result of Trump administration withholding military aid promised to Ukraine to pressure the newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky was asked to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and was also asked to support the conspiracy theory, which stated that it was not Russia but Ukraine who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Across the history of the USA, only four presidents have even been inquired for impeachment and only three have formally gone through the process and none have been removed from the office.

Let’s take a look at the presidents of the United States that have gone through the inquiries of impeachment.

Andrew Johnson - Impeached in 1868

Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial in 1868.

Andrew Johnson, who served as a Vice President to Abraham Lincoln in his second term, became the president after Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865. Lincoln only served 42 days of his second term.

Along with his Presidency, Johnson was also left in charge of reconstruction that Lincoln started after the Civil War. The lenient plan to include the defeated Southern states did not sit well with then so-called Radical Republicans and soon, a clash ensued between the two parties.

Then Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, who even Lincoln had a problem with, was removed from the cabinet by Johnson which breached The Tenure of Office Act. Johnson was then brought to trial and was impeached by the House of Representatives on February 24, 1868. The case lasted three months from March to May.

When voted, the result was 35 guilty and 19 not guilty, missing out by just one vote to reach two thirds of majority which would have resulted in his dismissal.

Richard Nixon - Resigned in 1974

First day of the impeachment process against President Richard Nixon.

Watergate Scandal is one of the most infamous scandals in the history of the USA. During the administration of President Richard Nixon, five men broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Office Building on June 17, 1972 and were arrested. The men were employed by the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon.

The White House denied involvement in the break-in and attempted to cover up the act. The US Justice Department and the press discovered the connection between the arrested men and slush fund used by Nixon in his re-election.

In August 1972, Nixon denied his involvement saying, “No one in the White House staff, no one in this administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident." After two years, President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, before impeachment could begin. His impeachment and subsequent conviction was obvious.

Bill Clinton - Impeached in 1998

Proceedings in session during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

President Clinton was accused of sexual harassment by Paula Jones in 1994 but he attempted to delay the trial but the pre-trial began in May 1997. More fire was added to the case when it was revealed that White House intern Monica Lewinsky had had sexual encounters with the President.

When Lewinsky was added to the list of witnesses, Clinton asked her to file a false affidavit to misdirect the investigation and tried to hide his relationship with the intern. While Clinton later admitted his relationship with Lewinsky, he settled the case with Jones for $850,000 maintaining his innocence.

All the while, the President and the First Lady were also being investigated in a different case called Whitewater Controversy. 

He was impeached on two counts, perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998. In the five-week trial that followed, he was acquitted on both counts.

Donald Trump - Impeached in 2019

Donald Trump talks to his supporters during a rally in Arizona.

A formal impeachment inquiry was announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on September 24, 2019 citing his efforts to tie military aid with personal political affairs to investigate Former Vice President Joe Biden and attempt to mislead about the 2016 Presidential Election interference.

Now Democrats have accused the President of “multiple federal crimes,” including wire fraud and bribery. With his Presidential term coming to an end, an impeachment probably won’t result in much anyway. Considering that no President has ever been convicted and fired, it is likely that Trump will be acquitted.

However, pundits agree on one thing. This is definitely going to hurt his re-election campaign. But keep in mind, after his impeachment trial, Bill Clinton still had an approval rating of over 70%.