In the United States impeachment of public officials is provided for in the federal government and in most states. In federal matters the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to impeach civil officers of the United States, including the President and Vice President, but not including members of Congress. Impeachments are tried by the Senate, with the concurrence of two thirds of the members present needed for conviction. The sole penalties on conviction are removal from office and disqualification from holding other federal office; however, the convicted party is liable to subsequent criminal trial and punishment for the same offense.
There have been 20 impeachments tried by the Senate and eight convictions. Four of the best-known cases, none of which resulted in conviction, were those of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase, President Andrew Johnson, President Bill Clinton (see Lewinsky scandal), and President Donald Trump. The Senate trial of Trump was notable for its lack of witnesses. The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted in 1974 to bring impeachment charges against President Richard Nixon (see Watergate affair), but Nixon resigned before the House took action.
See studies by I. Brant (1972), R. Berger (1973), C. L. Black, Jr. (1974), J. R. Labovitz (1978), R. A. Posner (1999), and C. R. Sunstein (2018).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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