Article One of the U.S. 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, twice (Nixon likely would have been impeached and removed from office, had he not resigned before formal proceedings could start).
Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson ascended to the presidency in 1868, following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Although a Republican, Lincoln chose a Democrat, Johnson, as his Vice President, as a symbol of cross-party unity during the American Civil War. As president, Johnson often clashed with his Republican opponents and vetoed many of the Reconstruction policies they were trying to enact. When Johnson's tried to replace the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, the Senate voted against this; Johnson then vetoed their decision 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 these 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 on 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 U.S. history.
Impeachment of Bill Clinton
In 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, 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.
Impeachments of Donald Trump
Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in December, 2019, and was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, with a vote of 229 to 197 in favor of impeachment. These charges stemmed from Trump's attempts to coerce the President of Ukraine into investigating his political opponent (future-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden) in exchange for already-promised military aid. By doing this, Trump had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election; determined as an abuse of power by the House of Representatives. The subsequent instructions to his staff to ignore subpoenas for documents or testimonies led to a second charge of obstruction of Congress. In February, 2020, Trump was acquitted of both charges by the Senate, with almost complete partisan division in the results. Mitt Romney became the first Senator to ever vote against their party's president, when he voted to charge the President with abuse of power in a move that drew considerable backlash from the president and other Republicans.
President Trump then lost re-election in 2020, but claimed that the election had been stolen from him due to widespread voter fraud. Neither Trump nor his associates could provide any evidence of these claims, although the theory gained support among some followers. On January 6, 2021, Trump gave a speech where he encouraged his followers to march on the Capitol building, where the election results were being certified by Congress. A large number of his followers stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the election results, and five people died due to the riot. One week later, the House of Representatives voted 232 (222 Democrats, 10 Republicans) to 197 (all Republicans) in favor of impeaching the president for the second time, charging him with inciting an insurrection. When the trial went to the Senate, seven Republicans voted to convict, along with all Democrats and Independents. Although this was the only time where multiple Senators voted against their party's former-president, it was still ten votes short of a two-thirds majority, and President Trump was acquitted. Despite his acquittal, questions over the former-president's eligibility to run for office in the future remain, while several separate investigations relating to his role in the Capitol riots, and attempts to overturn election results in Arizona are ongoing.
Votes for criminal convictions in the U.S. Senate, following the impeachment of Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Trump, between 1868 and 2021
Guilty votes needed to convict
Guilty - Republican
Guilty - Democrat
Guilty - Independent
Not Guilty - Republican
Not Guilty - Democrat
Not Guilty - Independent
Andrew Johnson - All three articles
Bill Clinton - Article One (perjury)
Bill Clinton - Article Two (obstruction of justice)
Donald Trump (2019) - Article One (abuse of power)
Donald Trump (2019) - Article Two (obstruction of Congress)
Donald Trump (2021) - Article One (incitement of insurrection)
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Encyclopædia Britannica, & New York Times, & University of Virginia, & US Senate. (March 24, 2021). Votes for criminal convictions in the U.S. Senate, following the impeachment of Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Trump, between 1868 and 2021 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1085077/impeachment-vote-us-senate-clinton-johnson/
Encyclopædia Britannica, und New York Times, und University of Virginia, und US Senate. "Votes for criminal convictions in the U.S. Senate, following the impeachment of Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Trump, between 1868 and 2021." Chart. March 24, 2021. Statista. Accessed January 28, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1085077/impeachment-vote-us-senate-clinton-johnson/
Encyclopædia Britannica, New York Times, University of Virginia, US Senate. (2021). Votes for criminal convictions in the U.S. Senate, following the impeachment of Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Trump, between 1868 and 2021. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: January 28, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1085077/impeachment-vote-us-senate-clinton-johnson/
Encyclopædia Britannica, and New York Times, and University of Virginia, and US Senate. "Votes for Criminal Convictions in The U.S. Senate, following The Impeachment of Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Trump, between 1868 and 2021." Statista, Statista Inc., 24 Mar 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1085077/impeachment-vote-us-senate-clinton-johnson/
Encyclopædia Britannica & New York Times & University of Virginia & US Senate, Votes for criminal convictions in the U.S. Senate, following the impeachment of Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Trump, between 1868 and 2021 Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1085077/impeachment-vote-us-senate-clinton-johnson/ (last visited January 28, 2023)
Votes for criminal convictions in the U.S. Senate, following the impeachment of Presidents Johnson, Clinton and Trump, between 1868 and 2021 [Graph], Encyclopædia Britannica, & New York Times, & University of Virginia, & US Senate, March 24, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1085077/impeachment-vote-us-senate-clinton-johnson/