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Impeachment

A guide to the process and history of impeachment in the United States

What is "impeachment"?

Impeachment refers to the statement of charges by a legislative body against an elected official. It does not necessarily result in the elected official's removal from office.

The United States Constitution grants the authority to impeach to the U.S. House of Representatives (Article I section 2)

"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." (Article II section 4)

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Impeachment in the States

Impeachment is not limited to the federal government. Each state defines their own impeachment processes through their state constitutions.

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Who can be impeached?

The Constitution states "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States" are subject to impeachment. Who are "civil officers"?

Historically, civil officers who have been impeached are judges and cabinet members. William Blount, a U.S. Senator from Tennessee was impeached in 1797 but the Senate dismissed the charges, deciding that Senators cannot be impeached.

What happens next?

Impeachment does not automatically remove someone from office. Following impeachment proceedings in the House, a trial is held in the Senate (assuming the person in question doesn't resign first).

In the event of a Senate trial, someone may be found Guilty, Not Guilty, or have the charges dismissed.

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