Washington (AFP) – Before Donald Trump, three other US presidents faced impeachment proceedings. None were ousted by impeachment, although Richard Nixon resigned rather than be impeached.
– 1868: Johnson survives by one vote –
Democrat President Andrew Johnson’s push for reconstruction after the American Civil War, including by reintegrating the southern States into the Union, put him in conflict with the Congress.
Congress vetoed all his legislation including the “Black Codes” — racist laws voted by representatives from the South.
In the impasse, Johnson fired his secretary of war, prompting Congress to launch impeachment proceedings — the first in US history.
On February 24, 1868, the House of Representatives voted 11 articles of impeachment, notably over his attempt to replace an office holder appointed by the Senate.
But after a weeks-long trial, the Senate in May fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for a conviction.
Johnson stayed in office but lost his party’s bid to run for the next elections, entering the Senate five years later.
– 1974: Nixon resigns before impeachment –
During Republican President Richard Nixon’s 1972 campaign for reelection, burglars were sent to bug the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building in Washington.
The operation was bungled and the burglars were caught, the scandal being revealed in investigative reporting by the Washington Post newspaper.
Nixon attempted to cover-up his involvement. But on July 24, 1974 the US Supreme Court ordered him to hand over clandestine recordings of his private Oval Office conversations which provided the proof that he and his top advisors had engaged in an elaborate cover-up of the crime.
On July 30, the House Judiciary Committee approved three impeachment articles: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and attempt to impede the impeachment process by defying committee subpoenas for evidence.
Before the articles could be considered by the House of Representatives, which would have almost certainly voted for his ouster, Nixon quit on August 9.
– 1999: Clinton acquitted –
In 1998, Democratic President Bill Clinton denied under oath a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern nearly half his age.
Lewinsky at first also denied any improper relationship but later admitted to an affair, as Clinton eventually did. It led to calls for his impeachment for lying under oath and trying to cover up the affair.
On December 12-13, 1998, the House Judiciary Committee — voting almost exclusively along party lines — approved four articles of impeachment: two on perjury, a third on obstruction of justice and a fourth on abuse of power.
On December 19, the House of Representatives voted for impeachment on just two articles: perjury before a grand jury and obstruction of justice.
But at the Senate vote on February 12, 1999, the 45 Democratic senators stayed united against the 55 Republicans to block a two-thirds vote for conviction.
Clinton remained in office until the end of his term in 2001.