4 U.S. Presidents That Had to Face Impeachment

Clinton impeachment
Photo by mark reinstein from Shutterstock

Andrew Johnson: Impeached in 1868

Johnson was elected as Abraham Lincoln’s vice president in 1864. The most difficult decision that Lincoln had to face in his second term was how to reestablish ties with the Confederate states, given that the Civil War was now over.

Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction favored leniency, while the so-called “Radical Republicans” in his party only wanted to punish Southern politicians and extend full civil rights to the slaves that were recently freed.

But Lincoln was assassinated only 42 days after starting his second term, which left Johnson in charge of Reconstruction. He instantly clashed with the Radical Republicans in Congress, calling for pardons for the Confederate leaders, but also vetoing political rights for freedmen.

But in 1867, Congress decided to pass the Tenure of Office Act, which forbade the president to replace members of his cabinet without Senate approval. As he believed the law was unconstitutional, Johnson fired his Secretary of War, who was an ally of the Radical Republicans in Congress.

Well, as you can imagine, Johnson’s political enemies responded by drafting and passing no less than 11 articles of impeachment in the House.

Bill Clinton: Impeached in 1998

Clinton was haunted by legal troubles and scandals, from day 1. In 1993, Clinton and his First Lady, Hillary, were the main subject of a Justice Department Investigation, into the so-called Whitewater controversy, which revolved around botched business deals from their past in Arkansas.

In 1994, Clinton was sued for se*ual harassment by Paula Jones, who claimed the at-the-time President exposed himself to her in a hotel room in 1991. Eventually, it was a combination of both legal cases that would lead to Clinton’s impeachment.

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr was then appointed by the Justice Department to Investigate the Whitewater affair, but he wasn’t able to find any impeachable evidence. However, lawyers for Jones eventually got a tip, that Clinton had a secret affair with a 21-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, a claim that was denied by both parties under oath.

Eventually, it was proven that they both committed perjury, and Clinton was forced to tell everything. On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives decided to impeach Clinton on two counts: perjury and obstruction of justice. Despite an extremely public and embarrassing scandal, Clinton’s job approval peaked at 73% in 1999.

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