The history of presidential impeachment—research paper ideas

Presidential impeachment is a serious act that the United States has only undertaken four times. A research paper could examine the historical precedents for such a political event.

Learn more about how a presidential impeachment works. (Credit: Getty Images)

Learn more about how a presidential impeachment works. (Credit: Getty Images)

How to impeach a president and why the topic is at the forefront now with the recent election of Donald Trump, are other areas to explore in a research paper.

How to impeach

What is the process by which a presidential impeachment can happen in the United States? The House of Representatives can impeach a president with a simple majority vote on one or more articles of impeachment. Once this resolution is passed, the Senate holds a trial to decide if the president is guilty of the impeachment charges. For a president to be found guilty, two-thirds of the Senate must vote guilty. Even if a president is found guilty of an impeachable offense by Congress, they do not have to automatically step down. The Senate holds another trial to determine if the president will be removed from office and if the president is forbidden from holding any other office in the future.

Shannon Walsh quoted in her November 9, 2016, article, “How to Impeach a President,” for, Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution which reads, “’The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’” These include: Acts of treason, bribery, other high crimes, or misdemeanors.” A research paper could look at the two presidents that were impeached, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, and the facts surrounding both of those political events.

Why presidential impeachment may be an issue

With Donald Trump winning the presidency on November 8, 2016, Google found that searches for presidential impeachment rose by 5,000 percent the day after election. Prior to the election results, the question of a presidential impeachment was discussed in relation to Hillary Clinton. Why is this issue in the news? As Jacob Gershman posted on November 3, 2016, “Can a President Self-Pardon?,” for The Wall Street Journal’s blog, many wanted to know due to ongoing investigations into Clinton’s email server.

However, now that Donald Trump is president-elect, those opposed to his election have shifted the focus of a presidential impeachment discussion to him, particularly in terms of the ongoing investigation into his Trump University. Gershman wrote, “The short answer to whether the Constitution permits self-pardoning is: Yes, it probably does. That seems to be the prevailing — but by no means unanimous — opinion among legal experts.” A research paper could explore the legal issues revolving around self-pardoning, as well as an examination of the section of the Constitution that deals with impeachment.

Major political event

Obviously, presidential impeachment is a serious political event for a nation, from how a country determines a president might need to be impeached to the process of how to impeach. The United States is not alone in having struggled with this circumstance in recent years. Jody C. Baumgartner and Naoko Kada examined the topic in their book, Checking Executive Power: Presidential Impeachment in Comparative Perspective, published by Praeger in 2003.

They explain that presidential impeachment is really more of a political issue than a legal one, and that many people do not have a full understanding of how to impeach or what impeachment means. Baumgartner and Kada wrote, “although unwieldy, impeachment is the ultimate check on the power of a chief executive in a presidential system, and therefore a fundamental democratic element of these systems.” A research paper could look into how thinking about presidential impeachment has changed in the last 30 years or why political scientists have focused mainly on the mechanics of how to impeach rather than whether impeachment was justified.

Want to learn more about the presidency of the United States? Check out Questia—particularly the section on impeachment.

Do you think that presidential impeachment will continue to be a discussion during the presidency of Donald Trump? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

1 reply
  1. Larry (Lorenzo Bernardotto - Italy) says:

    Well, it reminds me of President Andrew Johnson and, more recently, Richard Nixon. The former was impeached on Feb. 24,1868, after the Civil War, because he removed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and it was a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The latter, Nixon, was impeached because of the Watergate, that is, on the night of June 17, 1972, five burglars entered the Democratic National Committee offices inside the Watergate office complex in Washington. They were discovered by a watchman, Frank Wills, and they were arrested.

    Donald Trump? He is so eccentric that I think he will cross out the impeachment. We must expect everything from this man. Unless … he will change his mind and ideas … and begins to behave like a good guy. It’s to be hoped for. :-)))


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