Ad Spot
Swindle

Swindle: The two impeachments in American history

Jason Swindle
Senior Partner, Swindle Law Group

suppose the first time I heard the term “articles of impeachment”, I was a 1st year law student at Mercer University.

Little did I know; the nation was about to be educated on the matter and witness the impeachment of a president.

Article I of the United States Constitution gives the United States House of Representatives (House) the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of officers of the U.S. federal government. But, impeachment is only the first of two stages, and conviction during the second stage requires “the concurrence of two thirds of the members present”. Impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office; it is only a legal statement of charges, similar to an indictment in criminal law. An official who is impeached faces a second legislative vote, or trial, in the Senate which determines whether the office holder is guilty or not guilty.

After the 1998 mid-term elections, the House impeached President Clinton; charging him with perjury and obstruction of justice.

Impeachment proceedings against Clinton were primarily based on allegations that Clinton had illegally lied about and covered up his relationship with 22-year-old White House employee Monica Lewinsky.

The Senate later acquitted Clinton on both charges. The Senate finished a twenty-one-day trial on February 12, 1999, with the vote of 55 Not Guilty/45 Guilty on the perjury charge and 50 Not Guilty/50 Guilty on the obstruction of justice charge. Both votes fell short of the Constitutional two-thirds majority requirement to convict and remove an officeholder.

On January 19, 2001, Clinton’s law license was suspended for five years after he acknowledged he had engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice in the Jones case.

But, Clinton was not the first president to be impeached.

Contrary to popular belief, the other president was not Richard Nixon. It was Andrew Johnson.

President Abraham Lincoln was dead. His vice-president, Andrew Johnson took the oath of office and tried to govern a country ripped apart by war, anger, and retribution. He was in trouble from the start.

Johnson had a powerful enemy in the cabinet; Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. He battled with the President over many issues. Finally, while Congress was in recess, President Johnson demanded Stanton’s resignation.

January 1868, the Senate disapproved of his action, and reinstated Stanton, contending the President had violated the Tenure of Office Act. In February, the House impeached the President for intentionally violating the Tenure of Office Act, by a vote of 128 to 47.

On March 5, 1868, the impeachment trial began.

35 senators voted “guilty” and 19 “not guilty”, thus falling short by a single vote of the two-thirds majority required for conviction under the Constitution. 

We are fortunate that our Founding Fathers had the foresight to provide two thirds vote in the Senate in order to convict. Without the two thirds majority rule, we would also have seen other presidents impeached when they and an emboldened Congress did not get along. That environment would weaken and destabilize America.

Removing presidents from office should only happen when the allegations surround very serious non-partisan charges that can be proven with evidence; not ideology.

News

Thousands raised at Walk to End Alzheimer’s

News

Gov. Ivey to visit Bradshaw-Chambers County Library

News

Sheriff’s office launches internal investigation

News

Bradshaw-Chambers County Library set to tackle hunger

News

Publix: Only officers should openly carry guns in its stores

News

Georgia port reopens 4 days after overturned ship closed it

News

Troup County firefighters presented with Teamwork Award at awards banquet

News

Lanett City Schools adopts new budget

News

Identity released of man found dead near substation in Valley

News

Chambers County Board of Education passes budget

News

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia makes 3 millionth vehicle in West Point

News

Riverview community has several events to look forward to the next few weeks

News

Valley Kiwanis Club hosts EAMC-Lanier rehabilitation unit

News

Lanett First United Methodist Church hosts supper for first responders

News

David Anthony Pike pleads guilty in federal court; still faces murder charges in Chambers County from 1985

News

West Point Elementary School replaces media center carpet

News

Bass Nation fishing tournament brings tourism to West Point Lake

News

UPDATE: Lanett man arrested for failing to pull over for police and running into woods

News

Lanett man arrested for failing to pull over for police

News

Georgia universities, exempt from Kemp cuts, seek more money

News

Troup County finance director retiring

News

West Point Council lowers rental rates at Depot, Virginia Cook Center

News

West Point man arrested after failing to comply with police

News

Georgia governor speaks at tourism conference in LaGrange