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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 21 impeachments by the House, and eight convictions by the Senate. Four of the best-known cases, none of which resulted 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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, 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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), and President Donald TrumpTrump, Donald John,
1946–, 45th President of the United States (2017–21), b. New York City. Prior to his election as president in 2016, he was a business executive and television personality rather than a political leader. After attending Fordham Univ.
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 (the only president to be impeached twice). The first Senate trial of Trump was notable for its lack of witnesses. The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives voted in 1974 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), R. A. Posner (1999), and C. R. Sunstein (2018).

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References in periodicals archive ?
"That said, we have now come to a point where we must engage in an investigation to not only expose wrongdoing and prevent it from happening again, but also to determine whether the current president engaged in behavior meriting the beginning of impeachment proceedings."
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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN on Thursday evening that his committee has officially started an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's alleged misconduct.
Summary: Following Mueller's testimony, an impeachment inquiry is in the offing
All of the above describe the true nature of impeachment power as enshrined by our people in the Constitution.
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Justice secretary: Filing an impeachment complaint 'certainly' not unlawful !-- -- Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 2, 2019 - 1:27pm MANILA, Philippines Filing an impeachment complaint against anyone, including the president, is not an illegal act, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stressed Tuesday.
Yes, there's a good case -- a very good case -- an extremely good case -- that Trump has acted contrary to his oath of office and deserves impeachment and removal.
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WASHINGTON: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is setting a high bar for the impeachment of United States President Donald Trump, saying he is "just not worth it" even as some on her left flank clamour to start proceedings.Pelosisaid in an interviewwithThe Washington Postthat "I'm not for impeachment" of Trump.
There was a dramatic twist on the impeachment of the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly and his deputy, Hon Bamidele Oleyelogun and Iroju Ogundeji, on Monday, as two of the lawmakers denied their involvement in the exercises.