The impeachment of President Donald Trump is the third in US history and the fourth serious effort. No President has ever been removed from office and Trump will likely be no exception. The good news for Trump is every other President who faced impeachment squared off against a House and Senate held by the opposing party.
Trump’s Republicans have a majority in the Senate and will likely protect him. Andrew Johnson faced the longest odds since his Democrats had very few seats on Capitol Hill. He was still able to beat an impeachment conviction.
The bad news for Trump is that the party of every President who faced impeachment lost the next presidential election.
The Republican-controlled House passed 11 articles of impeachment against Johnson, a Democrat. They were mostly connected to violating the Tenure of Office Act, a law passed specifically to curb Johnson’s ability to fire Cabinet officials appointed by Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, before his assassination. Johnson wanted a less radical Reconstruction and stood in the way of help for former slaves.
Result: Seven Republicans broke with their party and the Senate acquitted Johnson by a single vote on three articles. Republicans abandoned the trial and Johnson stayed in office. But his presidential career was over and he was left off the Democratic ballot in 1868. He later returned to the US Senate.
Next election: Johnson’s party gained some House seats as Southerners were readmitted to Congress but lost the White House in 1868.
The Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon — for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They were all related to Watergate and Nixon’s use of the powers of the presidency in the 1972 presidential election.
Result: After Republican senators told him he’d lost their confidence, Nixon resigned rather than be impeached by the House.
Next election: Nixon’s party lost House seats in the 1974 election and lost the White House in 1976 to Democrat Jimmy Carter.
The House passed two articles of impeachment against Clinton for perjury before a grand jury and obstructing lawsuits. The charges stemmed from Ken Starr’s years-long Independent Counsel investigation that started as an inquiry into a land deal before Clinton was elected but morphed into a look at his affair in the White House.
Result: After multiple defections, Republicans could not even muster majorities in the Senate, much less the 2/3 needed to convict.
Next election: Clinton’s party gained a few House seats in the election just before his impeachment, but lost the White House in 2000.
The House approved two charges against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The first involves his use of taxpayer dollars to pressure the Ukrainian President and the other has to do with his attempt to block congressional oversight. Unlike every other impeachment effort, Trump’s party has a majority in the Senate.
Result: House Democrats passed the articles of impeachment, but the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit — and potentially to dismiss charges altogether.
Next election: Trump is running for reelection in 2020.