Impeachment is an uncertain path to deposing a leader in the US

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Impeachment is an uncertain path to deposing a leader in the US


Richard Nixon resigned before House trial began.
Richard Nixon resigned before House trial began.

Donald Trump would be joining a very small presidential club if he were ever to be impeached.

On July 12 last year, Brad Sherman, a Democratic congressman from California, became the first to launch official impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump – although even he admitted it was a long way away.

The embattled president has described calls for his impeachment as “ridiculous”, saying he has done nothing to warrant criminal charges.

However, were the crisis ever to reach impeachment proceedings, history shows it would be far from certain that he would be removed from office.

Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson was the first leader to go through the process in 1868.

He was charged with breaching the Tenure of Office Act after he removed the US secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, from the cabinet.

In the aftermath of the civil war, the Act said a president could not dismiss appointed officials without the consent of Congress.

Bill Clinton

The second president to be impeached was Bill Clinton over the extramarital affair he had with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

In January 1998, Clinton uttered the now infamous denial: “I want to say one thing to the American people – I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

On August 17, however, he testified before a grand jury – the first time a sitting president had done so – and admitted to an inappropriate relationship with her.

Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 1998, on the grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice. A second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of power – failed to pass in the House. The case then went to trial in the Senate, where, in February 1999, he was acquitted. A two-thirds vote – 67 senators – was required to remove him from office. Fifty voted to convict him for obstruction of justice and 45 found him guilty of perjury.

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Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon would almost certainly have become the third president to be impeached and would likely have been removed from office. His White House had become engulfed by the Watergate scandal, in which his administration had tried to cover up its involvement in the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

Impeachment proceedings formally began on February 6, 1974, and, at the end of July, three articles of impeachment were approved: for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress.

Yet the trial never reached the House.

Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, and handed the presidency over to Gerald Ford. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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