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How Does Impeachment Work?

Let’s clear up the confusion about impeachment.

If you notice a yellow highlight on the page, hover over it for the definition!

A lot of people don’t really know what impeachment is. Impeachment is a way of making an elected official – like the president – leave office. Impeaching someone is like charging someone with a crime.

The Founding Fathers said two actions – treason and bribery – were serious enough to remove a president. “High crimes and misdemeanors” are also grounds to impeach, but it is not very clear what this means.

If the U.S. House of Representatives thinks the president or another official has committed a crime, they can impeach him or her. This means they bring a formal complaint. After the complaint is made, the Senate holds a trial, with the senators acting as a jury.

The process is:

  • The House of Representatives investigates the complaint.
  • The House of Representatives votes on whether to make a formal complaint or not. If they vote yes, then the president is impeached.
  • Finally, the Senate holds a trial to find the person guilty or innocent.

Two-thirds of the Senate has to agree before a person is found guilty. Then the impeached person must leave office. If the person is found not-guilty, they can keep their job.

Since the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1789, only three presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump.

Sarah Cowgill

National Columnist at and Sarah has been a writer in the political and corporate worlds for over 25 years. As a sought-after speech writer, her clients included CEOs, U.S. Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and even a Vice President. She’s worked as Contributing Editor at Scottsdale Life, a news reporter for the Journal and Courier, and guest opinion political writer for numerous publications nationwide. A born storyteller, Sarah has published a full-length book and is currently finishing a quirky, sarcastic, second novel.

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