Votes for presidential impeachment in the United States senate in 1868 and 1998

Article One of the US Constitution states that only the House of Representatives has the power to impeach a president, and if an overall majority votes in favor of impeachment, charges are then brought before the Senate where a two third majority is needed to convict the president and, most likely, remove them from office. In the history of the United States, attempts of impeachment were made against several sitting presidents, however only three were ever impeached; these were Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump (although Nixon was also sure to have been impeached and removed from office, had he not resigned before votes could be taken). On September 24, 2019, the impeachment process was initiated against President Trump, with the House later voting on two articles for impeachment; abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. On December 18, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted 229 to 197 in favor of impeachment, which made Trump the first Republican President to ever be impeached. When the case is brought before the Republican-controlled Senate in January, it is unlikely that they will charge the president or remove him from office, as this would require at least twenty senators to switch sides and vote against their party's president. History suggest that this is unlikely, as no senator voted guilty against their party's president in the previous two cases, and Trump got the full backing of the Republican Party during his impeachment trial.

Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson ascended to the presidency in 1868, following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Although Lincoln was a Republican, he chose the Democratic Party's Johnson as his vice president; as a symbol of cross-party unity during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era that followed. As president, Johnson often clashed with his Republican opponents and vetoed many of the Reconstruction policies they were trying to enact. When the Senate voted against Johnson's replacement of Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, Johnson vetoed this and proceeded with the change regardless. Three days later, the House of Representatives voted 126 to 47 in favor of impeaching the President, bringing forward eleven articles of impeachment relating to his unconstitutional dismissal of Stanton and his personal conduct against the Senate. Three of the eleven articles of impeachment were voted on by the Senate, and 36 guilty votes were required to achieve a two thirds majority, which would have resulted in Johnson's removal from office. Johnson's presidency survived by a single vote in each of the three charges, and he remained in office for the remainder of his term (though as a 'lame duck' with very little influence). Johnson is regarded by many historians as one of the worst presidents in US history.

Impeachment of Bill Clinton

On December 19. 1998, President Clinton was impeached and two charges were brought before the Senate. The origins of the charges came from a 1994 lawsuit that accused Clinton of sexually harassing a state employee while he was the Governor of Arkansas, and the subsequent investigations exposed details of an extramarital affair between Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton denied this affair in a sworn testimony, however the Starr Report found evidence to the contrary, while further evidence emerged of Clinton coaching his staff to lie under oath. The House of Representatives voted 228 to 206 to impeach Clinton for perjury (lying under oath), and 221 to 212 to impeach him for the obstruction of justice (ordering aides to commit perjury). In the Senate, 67 guilty votes were needed for a two third majority, however Clinton was acquitted as he received just 45 and 50 guilty votes respectively, and remained in office for the remainder of his term. During the trial, Clinton still had a public approval rating of more than seventy percent, and in subsequent polls he is most often ranked in the top fifty percent of all US presidents.

Votes for criminal convictions in the United States Senate, following the impeachment of Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton in 1868 and 1998

Guilty - RepublicanNot Guilty - RepublicanNot Guilty - DemocratNot Guilty - Other
Andrew Johnson - All three articles35793
Bill Clinton - Article One (perjury)451045-
Bill Clinton - Article Two (obstruction of justice)50545-
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Release date

November 2019


United States

Survey time period

1868 to 1998

Supplementary notes

Further data about Johnson's case can be found here and here.

Further data about Clinton's case can be found here.

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