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in Great Britain and United States, formal accusation issued by a legislature against a public official charged with crime or other serious misconduct. In a looser sense the term is sometimes applied also to the trial by the legislature that may follow. In other countries, impeachment may refer to the removal of a public official from office instead of the accusation. Impeachment developed in England, beginning in the 14th cent., as a means of trying officials suspected of dereliction of duty. The English procedure was for the House of Commons to prosecute by presenting articles of impeachment to the House of Lords, which rendered judgment. Any penalty, including death, might be inflicted. The impeachment (1787) and trial (1788–95) of Warren HastingsHastings, Warren,
1732–1818, first governor-general of British India. Employed (1750) as a clerk by the East India Company, he soon became manager of a trading post in Bengal.
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 was among the last of the English cases.

In the United States impeachment of public officials is provided for in the federal government and in most states. In federal matters the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to impeach civil officers of the United States, including the President and Vice President, but not including members of Congress. Impeachments are tried by the Senate, with the concurrence of two thirds of the members present needed for conviction. The sole penalties on conviction are removal from office and disqualification from holding other federal office; however, the convicted party is liable to subsequent criminal trial and punishment for the same offense.

There have been 19 impeachments tried by the Senate and eight convictions. Three of the best-known cases, which did not result in conviction, were those of Supreme Court Justice Samuel ChaseChase, Samuel,
1741–1811, political leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1796–1811), b. Somerset co., Md.
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, President Andrew JohnsonJohnson, Andrew,
1808–75, 17th President of the United States (1865–69), b. Raleigh, N.C. Early Life

His father died when Johnson was 3, and at 14 he was apprenticed to a tailor.
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, and President Bill Clinton (see Lewinsky scandalLewinsky scandal
, sensation that enveloped the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1998–99, leading to his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives and acquittal by the Senate.
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). In 1974 the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted to bring impeachment charges against President Richard Nixon (see Watergate affairWatergate affair,
in U.S. history, series of scandals involving the administration of President Richard M. Nixon; more specifically, the burglarizing of the Democratic party national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
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), but Nixon resigned before the House took action.


See studies by I. Brant (1972), R. Berger (1973), C. L. Black, Jr. (1974), J. R. Labovitz (1978), and R. A. Posner (1999).

References in periodicals archive ?
All three 1980s impeachment trials -- Judges Harry Claiborne, Alcee L.
president were unremarkable by twentieth century standards, when presidents are expected to be popular and po licy leaders, and modern critics of his impeachment have found it hard to credit the constitutional vision set forth by congressional Republicans at his trial.
A vote on impeachment in the lower chamber of parliament, the Duma, could be held today.
Meanwhile, the impeachment mill grinds on, and if you thought 1998 was the year of the Clinton-Lewinsky matter, you haven't seen anything yet.
IMPEACHMENT is the American legal process of removing top-ranking figures from office.
Mecham presents compelling evidence that his 1988 impeachment was orchestrated by a powerful behind-the-scenes group lead by the Phoenix 40.
The RZS leader did not say if the party's 8 Members of the Parliament would definitely not vote against the impeachment, but informed in case Borisov refuses to refute his statements, their leadership would convene Tuesday to make a decision.
He stressed that the House has fulfilled its commitment to pursue a swift but transparent and judicious process of impeachment and the decision to junk the impeachment complaint is a result of inability of proponents to justify the validity of their complaint.
It's no mystery why the Legislature is debating impeachment now: Allegations of influence peddling by Democratic Gov.
5th District, Iloilo), considered Impeachment complaint Nos.
Bush was also the target of substantial impeachment campaigns throughout his second term, largely from demonstrators who disagreed with the war in Iraq.
The 23-member nationally-elected senate, sitting as an impeachment court, rejected the request by Corona's lawyers -- headed by former supreme court associate justice Serafin Cuevas -- to delay the impeachment trial and hold preliminary hearings instead.