Informer: Impeachment process starts in US House

By By Andrew Perzo / American Press

How does someone go about impeaching a president, and has there been any president in the history of the United States that

has been impeached?

Two presidents have been impeached, another likely would have been and seven others had impeachment charges filed against


Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln, was impeached, or formally accused, by the House of Representatives on Feb.

24, 1868. Lawmakers brought charges against him after he sacked the secretary of war without Senate approval, a violation

of a recently passed law designed to keep Lincoln’s men in office. He was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.

Bill Clinton was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice for denying, under oath, that he had a sexual relationship

with Monica Lewinsky and was impeached on Dec. 19, 1998. He too was acquitted.

The Watergate break-in led the House

Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974, to recommend the impeachment of

Richard Nixon.

But the president, hobbled by accusations of cover-up, resigned

from office about two weeks later, before the full House could

vote on the issue.

John Tyler, Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have all

had charges against them introduced into the House of Representatives.

The process

The U.S. Constitution says the House has “the sole Power of Impeachment” — similar to a grand jury’s indictment power — and

that the Senate has “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

The impeachment process begins with a House member filing a resolution listing charges or requesting an investigation into

grounds for impeachment. The resolution is then sent to the Judiciary Committee, which looks into the matter.

“The focus of the impeachment inquiry is to determine whether the person involved has engaged in treason, bribery, or other

high crimes and misdemeanors,” reads a 2005 Congressional Research Service overview of the process.

“If the House Committee on the

Judiciary, by majority vote, determines that grounds for impeachment

exist, a resolution impeaching

the individual in question and setting forth specific allegations

of misconduct, in one or more articles of impeachment, will

be reported to the full House.”

If the full House votes to impeach, representatives are selected to handle the trial, which is held before the Senate and

presided over by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Constitution requires a two-thirds

vote of the Senate to convict, and the penalty for an impeached

official is removal

from office,” reads a page on the Senate’s website. “In some

cases, disqualification from holding future offices is also imposed.

There is no appeal.”

Federal judges are also subject to impeachment. The most recent case involved Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of the Eastern

District of Louisiana.

Porteous, appointed to the federal bench in 1994, faced four articles of impeachment that alleged corruption and was convicted

on Dec. 8, 2010. He was removed from his post and was barred from ever holding federal office.


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The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email