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What is Impeachment?

Learn what impeachment is, get sources on impeachment and what US Presidents have been impeached.

What is Impeachment?

""Impeachment is the political process provided in the U.S. Constitution for investigating and potentially removing a specific class of officials from public office as punishment for political offenses...Impeachment has as its only punishment the removal from national office.

Impeachment and removal can be only for 'Conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,' offenses named in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution and can only be committed by public officers in their official capacity. Impeachment is applicable only to a handful of people, as designated in Article II—'the President, Vice-President and all civil Officers of the United States.' Impeachment, then, is an extraordinary process that is used rarely for a very limited group of people (president, vice president, cabinet members, and federal judges) for misconduct in their official capacities. It carries with it a very singular penalty that has direct meaning only to those in the covered offices."

Read more from CREDO impeachment, Encyclopedia of American Government and Civics

A Brief History of Impeachment of US Presidents

Three presidents in history have been the subject of impeachment inquiries: Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton.

  • Johnson and Clinton were impeached by the House but escaped conviction in the Senate and thus remained in office.
  • Nixon faced three articles of impeachment voted by the House Judiciary Committee, but he resigned from office before a vote on the House floor occurred.

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