Every once in awhile, the political parties have to do something to stir things up with the President. This is not to say that they are all innocent, but sometimes it gets so bad that it goes to trial – or an impeachment. There are other ways that the President can get in trouble, too. In this case, it is called Censure, and the government basically turns its back on the President and says, “Bad! Bad!”. It is nothing more than an official reprimand by Congress. This happens a lot more than you’d think. So far, thirty-two presidents have been threatened with impeachment. It’s only gone so far to impeach two of them. Even these decisions are split along party lines: One Republican, one Democrat. The reason we have impeachment is because Benjamin Franklin did not want our leaders to be assassinated – and we’ve had some really bad leaders. We always think that the president in office is the worst president ever. If you believe this, you need to read the list below.
William Jefferson Clinton: Impeachment
Bill Clinton was dragged down by character issues brought into question even before his election. An investigation into some suspect real estate dealings in which Clinton was involved prior to his presidency failed to turn up any implicating evidence. Independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, was brought into the limelight to find anything to finish Clinton off. The result was a series of affairs that Clinton lied about under oath. Since perjury is an offense that you can be impeached for, the trial went forth. After months of denials, including in a videotaped legal testimony, Clinton admitted in August of 1998 that he had had a sexual relationship with the young woman during the time of her internship. Many felt the report, filled with lurid details of Clinton’s sexual encounters with Lewinsky, to be a political attack against the President rather than a legal justification for his impeachment. Of the 11 possible grounds for impeachment cited by Starr, four were eventually approved by the House Judiciary Committee: grand jury perjury, civil suit perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. Clinton was impeached on two counts. House Republicans got it through with a split vote, but the Senate Republicans were unable to make the charges stick and he was acquitted Feb. 12, 1999 on both counts.
Richard Milhous Nixon: Resigned
Nixon was the one that got away. After five men hired by Nixon’s reelection committee were caught burglarizing Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate Complex on June 17, 1972, President Nixon’s subsequent behavior—his cover-up of the burglary and refusal to turn over evidence—led the House Judiciary Committee to issue three articles of impeachment on July 30, 1974. The document also indicted Nixon for illegal wiretapping, misuse of the CIA, perjury, bribery, obstruction of justice, and other abuses of executive power. Impeachment appeared inevitable, and Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.
Warren G. Harding: Just A Mess
Consistently, Warren G. Harding has been named the worst president ever by both conservative and liberal groups in the Murray-Blessing survey. Harding was elected on the Republican ticket during Prohibition from 1921-1923 (the people didn’t give him a second term). During his time in office, President Harding rewarded friends and political contributors, referred to as the Ohio Gang, with financially powerful positions. Scandals and corruption eventually pervaded his administration; one of his own cabinet and several of his appointees were eventually tried, convicted, and sent to prison for bribery or defrauding the federal government. While Harding did make some positive changes in office (like dropping the 12-hour work day and establishing child welfare laws), he also got caught up in numerous affairs (including one with an underage girl and sex in the Oval Office closet), the Teapot Dome Scandal (which included taking bribes for our nation’s oil reserves), and other issues with narcotics trafficking and Veteran’s fraud. Harding became sick while in office and died before he could be impeached. Rumors ran that he committed suicide or was poisoned.
Andrew Johnson: Impeachment
Johnson, a Southern Democrat who became president after Lincoln’s assassination, supported a mild policy of Reconstruction after the Civil War. The Radical Republicans in Congress were furious at his leniency toward ex-Confederates and obvious lack of concern for ex-slaves, demonstrated by his veto of civil rights bills and opposition to the Fourteenth Amendment. To protect Radical Republicans in Johnson’s administration and diminish the strength of the president, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act in 1867, which prohibited the president from dismissing office holders without the Senate’s approval. A defiant Johnson tested the constitutionality of the Act by attempting to oust Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. His violation of the Act became the basis for impeachment in 1868. But the Senate was one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict, and Johnson was acquitted May 26, 1868.
Andrew Jackson: Censured
No body messed with Andrew Jackson. When rumors came out that his wife was a bigamist, he fired his entire cabinet for talking bad about his wife. When a guy decided to assassinate him, Jackson charged the man and nearly beat him to death with his cane. Jackson did have his problems, though. He ordered the forced march of Native Americans off their land (known as the Trail of Tears), and almost went to war with North Carolina because he was arguing with one of its politicians. Jackson was very popular and he stayed in office through two terms. During that time, he became the only president to be censured. A censure is is a process by which a formal reprimand is issued to an individual by an authoritative body. It’s a slap on the wrist. He was nearly censured twice! Once as a U.S. General for attacking Spain without provocation (people frowned upon this) and once while being the President of the United States for collapsing the U.S. economy by removing funds from the U.S. Federal Reserve! Believe it or not, he got his friends to expunge the second censure and got away without impeachment.