List of impeachment investigations of United States federal officials

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Numerous federal officials in the United States have faced impeachment investigations/inquiries. Not all such investigations have resulted in impeachments, and not all impeachments have been preceded by a formal investigation.

Presidents[edit]

James Buchanan[edit]

During most of 1860, the "Covode Committee" held hearings on whether to impeach President James Buchanan. While it found no real cause, it did find that his administration was the most corrupt since the foundation of the Republic.[1][2]

Andrew Johnson[edit]

1867[edit]

On January 7, 1867, the United States House of Representatives voted 107–89 to approve a resolution that instructed the House Judiciary Committee to "inquire into the official conduct of Andrew Johnson", investigating what it called Johnson's "corruptly used" powers, including his political appointments, pardons for ex-Confederates, and his legislative vetoes.[3][4] While giving the general charge of "high crimes and misdemeanors", the bill did not specify what the high crimes and misdemeanors Johnson had committed were.[5][3]

This vote resulted in the House of Representatives voting to launch of an impeachment inquiry run by the House Committee on the Judiciary, which initially ended in a June 3, 1867 vote by the committee to recommend against forwarding articles of impeachment to the full House.[3] however, on November 25, 1867, the House Committee on the Judiciary, which had not previously forwarded the result of its inquiry to the full House, reversed their previous decision, and voted 5–4 to recommend impeachment proceedings. In a December 7, 1867 vote, the full House rejected this report’s recommendation by a 108–56 vote.[6][7][8]

1868[edit]

On January 22, 1868, Rufus P. Spalding moved that the rules be suspended so that he could present a resolution resolving,

that the Committee on Reconstruction be authorized to inquire what combinations have been made or attempted to be made to obstruct the due execution of the laws, and to that end the committee have power to send for persons and papers and to examine witnesses on oath, and report to this House what action, if any, they may deem necessary, and that said committee have leave to report at any time.[9]

This motion was agreed to by a vote of 103–37, and then, after several subsequent motions (including ones to table the resolution or adjourn) were disagreed to, congress voted to approve the resolution 99–31.[9] This launched a new inquiry into Johnson run by the Committee on Reconstruction.[9]

On February 21, 1868, Johnson, in violation of the Tenure of Office Act that had been passed by Congress in March 1867 over Johnson's veto, attempted to remove Edwin Stanton, the secretary of war who the act was largely designed to protect, from office.[10] On February 22, the committee released a report which recommended Johnson be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.[9]

On February 24, the United States House of Representatives voted 126–47 to impeach Johnson for "high crimes and misdemeanors", which were detailed in 11 articles of impeachment (the 11 articles were collectively approved in a separate vote a week after impeachment was approved).[11][12][13] The primary charge against Johnson was that he had violated the Tenure of Office Act by removing Stanton from office.[11] Johnson was narrowly acquitted in his Senate trial with 35 to 19 votes in favor of conviction, one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority.[14]

Richard M. Nixon[edit]

President Richard Nixon leaving the White House on Marine One shortly before his resignation became effective, August 9, 1974[15]

On October 30, 1973, the House Judiciary Committee began consideration of the possible impeachment of Richard Nixon.[16] The initial straight party-line votes by a 21–17 margin that established an impeachment inquiry were focused around how extensive the subpoena powers Rodino would have would be.[17][18]

After a three-month-long investigation, and with public pressure to impeach the president growing, the House passed a resolution, H.Res. 803, on February 6, 1974, that gave the Judiciary Committee authority to actually investigate charges against the President.[19][20] The hearings lasted until the summer when, after much wrangling, the Judiciary Committee voted three articles of impeachment to the floor of the House, the furthest an impeachment proceeding had progressed in over a century.

With the release of new tapes — after the administration lost the case of US v. Nixon — and with impeachment and removal by the Senate all but certain,[21] on August 9, 1974, Nixon became the first president to resign.

Bill Clinton[edit]

On November 5, 1997, Representative Bob Barr introduced a resolution, H. Res. 581,[22] directing the House Judiciary Committee to inquire into impeachment proceedings[23]—months before the Monica Lewinsky scandal came to light. Foremost among the concerns Barr cited at the time was alleged obstruction of Justice Department investigations into Clinton campaign fundraising from foreign sources, chiefly the People's Republic of China.[24] The resolution was referred to the Rules Committee for further action,[25] which tabled the resolution.

Later, Clinton was impeached and acquitted over charges relating to the Lewinsky scandal.

Donald Trump[edit]

On September 24, 2019, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry into President Trump based on allegations laid out in a whistleblower report. A resolution enacting a rules package to govern the investigation was passed on 31 October by a vote of 232-196 in which all Republicans and two Democrats voted against the resolution.[26] Public impeachment hearings began in the House on 13 November,[27] and on December 10, 2019 the House Judiciary Committee published two articles of impeachment against President Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.[28] Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on December 18, 2019.[29] The impeachment trial of Donald Trump was then held from January 16 to February 5, 2020, with the Republican-controlled Senate acquitting Trump.[30]

Vice Presidents[edit]

John C. Calhoun[edit]

In 1826, an impeachment inquiry was held into John C. Calhoun, who sought to clear his name of allegations of impropriety. The resultant inquiry found him innocent of wrongdoing, and did not result in an impeachment vote.[31]

Judges[edit]

Many federal judges have been subjected to impeachment investigations.

Other officials[edit]

H. Snowden Marshall--U.S. District Atty., Southern District of NY[edit]

On December 14, 1915. Rep. Frank Buchanan of Illinois demanded the impeachment of H. Snowden Marshall, United States District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, for alleged neglect of duty and subservience to "the great criminal trusts,"[32] The Chicago Tribune claimed it had been In an effort to stop the grand jury investigation into the activities of Labor's National Peace council.

About a month later, on Buchanan again offered a resolution, H.R. Res. 90, to investigate Marshall. This time the resolution was adopted and referred to the Judiciary Committee for further action.[33]

On January 27, 1916, the House passed a resolution, H.R. Res. 110, granting the Judiciary Committee authority to subpoena witnesses and to use a Subcommittee.[34] A few days later, a Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee was organized to take testimony. On April 5, the HJC reported its findings, H.R. Rep. No. 64-494, to the House. The Judiciary Committee recommended a Select Committee be appointed to further investigate Marshall. Rep. Kitchins offered a resolution, H.R. Res. 193, to adopt the Judiciary Committee's recommendations. The resolution passed and the Select Committee was formed.[35] The Select Committee report was read into the record on April 14.[36] The report found Marshall guilty of a breach of the privileges of the House and in contempt of the House of Representatives and recommended he be brought to the bar of the House to answer the charges.[37]

On June 20, a resolution, H.R. Res. 268, was submitted which charged Marshall with violating the privileges of the House of Representatives and calling the Speaker to issue a warrant for Marshall's arrest.[38] The resolution was adopted.[39] On June 22, the Speaker signed the warrant.[40]

When Marshall was arrested by the Sergeant at Arms on June 26, he served the Sergeant at Arms with a writ of habeas corpus.[41] The HJC voted to end the investigation on July 16. Marshall's writ eventually went to the United States Supreme Court where Chief Justice White issued the opinion of the court on April 23, 1917. The Court granted the writ and released Marshall from custody. [Marshall v. Gordon, 243 U.S. 521 (1916)].[42]

The Judiciary Committee submitted its last report, H.R. Rep. 64-1077, concerning impeachment efforts against Marshall on August 4, the report, which recommended against impeachment, was referred to the House Calendar.[43]

Fredrick Fenning – Commissioner, District of Columbia[edit]

On April 19, 1926, articles of impeachment against Commissioner Frederick A. Fenning were read on the floor of the House, and a resolution, H.R. Res. 228, to investigate the validity of the charges was adopted. The resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee.[44] On May 4, 1926, the Judiciary Committee submitted a report, H.R. Rep. No. 69-1075, recommending a complete investigation.[45] A resolution adopting the committee report was passed by the House on May 6, 1926.[46]

On June 9, 1926, Mr. Rankin submitted a brief to the investigating committee supporting Fenning's impeachment.[47] Then on June 16, 1926, after Fenning answered the charges, Rankin submitted a reply brief.[48]

Two committees were involved in the impeachment investigation of Fenning. A preliminary report of a Special Subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia was submitted to the House on June 30, 1926.[49] Then on July 1, the final Judiciary Committee report, H.R. Rep. No. 69-1590, was submitted to the House and later referred to the House Calendar.[50] The proceedings ended with his resignation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zeitz, Joshua. "What Democrats Can Learn From the Forgotten Impeachment of James Buchanan". POLITICO.
  2. ^ https://www.americanheritage.com/corruption-and-treason-buchanan-cabinet
  3. ^ a b c "Building the Case for Impeachment, December 1866 to June 1867 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  4. ^ "Impeachment Efforts Against President Andrew Johnson | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  5. ^ Ross, Edmond G. (1868). "History of the Impeachment Of Andrew Johnson President Of The United States". www.gutenberg.org. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  6. ^ "Impeachment Efforts Against President Andrew Johnson | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  7. ^ "Impeachment Rejected, November to December 1867 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Case for Impeachment, December 1867 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d Hinds, Asher C. (March 4, 1907). "HINDS' PRECEDENTS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES INCLUDING REFERENCES TO PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION, THE LAWS, AND DECISIONS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE" (PDF). United States Congress. pp. 845–846. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  10. ^ Trefousse, Hans L. (1989). Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York City: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-393-31742-8.
  11. ^ a b "Johnson Impeached, February to March 1868 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  12. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document: Stephen W. Stathis and David C. Huckabee. "Congressional Resolutions on Presidential Impeachment: A Historical Overview" (PDF). Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  13. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document: Stephen W. Stathis and David C. Huckabee. "Congressional Resolutions on Presidential Impeachment: A Historical Overview" (PDF). Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "Impeached but Not Removed, March to May 1868 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  15. ^ Lucas, Dean. "Famous Pictures Magazine – Nixon's V sign". Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved June 1, 2007.
  16. ^ Naughton, James M. (October 30, 1973). "Rodino Vows Fair Impeachment Inquiry". The New York Times. p. 32.
  17. ^ Naughton, James M. (October 31, 1973). "House Panel Starts Inquiry On Impeachment Question" (PDF). The New York Times. pp. 1, 30.
  18. ^ "Impeachment Grounds: Part 5: Selected Douglas/Nixon Inquiry Materials". www.everycrsreport.com.
  19. ^ 1974 Congressional Record, Vol. 120, Page H2349 -50
  20. ^ 1974 Congressional Record, Vol. 120, Page H2362 -63
  21. ^ "Nixon Resigns". The Washington Post. The Watergate Story. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  22. ^ "IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY PURSUANT TO H. RES. 581: CONSIDERATION OF ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT". www.govinfo.gov.
  23. ^ "House Resolution 304, 105th Congress" (PDF). GPO.gov. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  24. ^ "FindArticles.com - CBSi". FindArticles.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  25. ^ 143 Cong. Rec. 10,105 (1997).
  26. ^ "Sharply divided House approves Democrats' impeachment rules". AP NEWS. November 1, 2019.
  27. ^ Jansen, Bart. "5 things to watch in first public hearings in Trump impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill". USA TODAY.
  28. ^ Jeremy Herb; Manu Raju; Lauren Fox. "Democrats unveil two articles of impeachment against Trump". CNN.
  29. ^ Kyle Cheney; Andrew Desiderio (December 18, 2019). "Trump impeached in historic rebuke". Politico. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  30. ^ Fandos, Nicholas (February 5, 2020). "Trump Acquitted of Two Impeachment Charges in Near Party-Line Vote". The New York Times.
  31. ^ "Impeach or Indict ..." The New York Times. September 27, 1973. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  32. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 240 (1915)
  33. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 962–971 (1915)
  34. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 1658–1659 (1915)
  35. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 5540–5541 (1915)
  36. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 6135 (1915)
  37. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 6141 (1915)
  38. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 9638 (1915)
  39. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 9670 (1915)
  40. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 9792 (1915)
  41. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 10371 (1915)
  42. ^ "FindLaw's United States Supreme Court case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  43. ^ 53 Cong. Rec. 12096 (1915)
  44. ^ 67 Cong. Rec. 7753, 7814 (1926)
  45. ^ 67 Cong. Rec. 8718 (1926)
  46. ^ 67 Cong. Rec. 8822–8828 (1926)
  47. ^ 67 Cong. Rec. 11019 (1926)
  48. ^ 67 Cong. Rec. 11374 (1926)
  49. ^ 67 Cong. Rec. 12397 (1926)
  50. ^ 67 Cong. Rec. 12593, 12858 (1926)