We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

The impeachment road leads to voters — in the Senate and at the polls

1 0 0

The United States seems headed toward the fourth-ever presidential impeachment effort. What can past cases tell us about how this one might develop?

Republicans complain that the Democratic House of Representatives is being partisan in taking on President Trump, but that’s the historical norm. Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998-1999 all faced a House controlled by their partisan foes.

Nor was the intra-Democrat struggle in which a pro-impeachment faction prevailed over more hesitant members unprecedented. “Radical” as the House Republicans who voted to impeach Johnson in 1868 may have been, they did so only after first failing to pass other proposed articles of impeachment (including one member’s claim, in January 1867, that Johnson had “corruptly interfered with elections”).

The framers of the Constitution anticipated all of the above. Therefore, impeachment cannot end with a conviction in the Senate and removal from office unless enough of a president’s partisan supporters agree with the charges to form a two-thirds majority.

Nixon resigned before he was formally impeached when a critical mass of Republicans in both houses abandoned him ahead of an inevitable Senate trial. Clinton, by contrast, won acquittal from a Republican-majority Senate in early 1999. The GOP balked after Democrats gained seats in the House in the 1998 midterm election, largely due to a backlash against........

© Washington Post