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The History of Impeachment

The Constitution states that “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.” The House of Representatives is granted “the sole Power of Impeachment” and the Senate “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

Since the first impeachment in 1797, the House has initiated proceedings more than sixty times, but fewer than twenty cases have led to full impeachment. In only eight cases have officials—all federal judges—been convicted and removed from office by the Senate.

The process begins in the House with an investigation by the Judiciary Committee. If the committee determines there are grounds, it will draw up articles of impeachment. The committee then votes on whether to bring the articles before the full House. If the articles of impeachment go to a vote on the House floor, it takes a simple majority for the official to be impeached.

The articles would then be presented to the Senate for a trial. A conviction takes a two-thirds majority and results in the official being removed from office. The Senate can hold an additional vote to disqualify the impeached official from holding an office of public trust in the future.

This minibibliography lists titles in the NLS collection dealing with officials who have been impeached and those for whom the impeachment process was begun without resulting in impeachment. All titles can be requested from your local cooperating library. The digital braille and talking-book titles can be downloaded from the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. Contact your local cooperating library to register for BARD. Registered users may also play talking-book titles on iOS and Android devices using the BARD Mobile app. Braille titles may be read using the app on an iOS device linked by Bluetooth to a refreshable braille display. Find your local cooperating library here, or call toll-free 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

Contents

Samuel Chase

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase was impeached by the House in 1804. He was acquitted by the Senate in 1805.

Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson
by William H. Rehnquist

Account of the nineteenth-century impeachments of a justice and a president by the author of The Supreme Court (DB27628). Rehnquist, a former chief justice of the United States, uses these two cases to illustrate the distinction between legal and political decisions and between impeachment and conviction. He argues that these same two cases strengthen the separation of governmental bodies as mandated by the Constitution. 1992.
Download DB38303

John Tyler

In 1842, a member of the House presented a petition requesting that James Tyler resign from the presidency or be impeached. The petition was tabled on receipt and no action was taken.

The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tyler
by Norma Lois Peterson

In the 1840 election, the Whigs placed William Henry Harrison on the ballot. The party, expecting the defeat of the Democratic incumbent, passed over Henry Clay, their actual leader, in search of a candidate who would respect congressional power. But death took the successful Harrison after a month in office. Tyler, the vice president, claimed the office and—to the chagrin of the Whigs—refused to be their puppet. 1989.
Download DB36753

Andrew Johnson

President Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate in 1868.

Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson
by William H. Rehnquist

Account of the nineteenth-century impeachments of a justice and a president by the author of The Supreme Court (DB27628). Rehnquist, a former chief justice of the United States, uses these two cases to illustrate the distinction between legal and political decisions and between impeachment and conviction. He argues that these same two cases strengthen the separation of governmental bodies as mandated by the Constitution. 1992.
Download DB38303

The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation
by Brenda Wineapple

An account of the first impeachment of a sitting American president. Describes the events that led to this occurrence, the key figures involved, and the subsequent implications for the country. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
Download DB95385

Richard Nixon

In July 1974, articles of impeachment against President Nixon were adopted by the House Judiciary Committee. Nixon resigned in August1974, and the articles were never voted on by the full House.

How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer
by Jimmy Breslin

A novelist-reporter observes the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon in 1974. He reports on his talks with the congressmen, the lawyers, and their aides, and offers his own theory about the illusion of power. Bestseller 1975.
Download DB09139

Washington Journal: The Events of 1973–1974
by Elizabeth Drew

A perceptive reporter presents a dramatic and insightful account of how the thirty-eight members of the House Judiciary Committee reached their verdict on the issues at stake in the Watergate hearings. 1975.
Download DB08779

The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews
by James Reston

Historian describes serving as adviser to British journalist David Frost for the 1977 televised interviews with former president Richard Nixon. Discusses using House Impeachment Committee evidence in Frost's interrogation guide for the Watergate portion of the broadcast, watched by forty-five million Americans. 2007.
Download BR18608, volume 1
Download DB68946

The Final Days
by Bob Woodward

Traces the last months of Richard Nixon's administration in 1974, including the cover-ups and obstructions of the president's advisers. Chronicles events that led to the first presidential resignation in America. Some strong language. 1976.
Download DB58703

Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998 and acquitted by the Senate in 1999.

The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton
by Peter Baker

Journalist details the role of congressmen and White House staff in the late-1990s effort to remove Clinton from office for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Discusses the political and cultural clashes that led to the attempt and implications for future chief executives. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2000.
Download DB51776

The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President
by Taylor Branch

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian's reflections about his recorded conversations with former president Bill Clinton provide insight into Clinton's personal and political life. Topics covered include health-care reform, domestic and international affairs, impeachment, the death of Clinton's mother, and Al Gore's defeat in the 2000 election. 2009.
Download DB70440

High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case against Bill Clinton
by Ann H. Coulter

The author examines the term "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the context of English common law and the intentions of the framers of the U.S. Constitution. She discusses the Monica Lewinsky affair, the White House Travel Office, Whitewater, Vince Foster, and fundraising issues that she contends call for impeachment of President Bill Clinton. 1998.
Download DB47084

Sellout: Why Bill Clinton's Impeachment Was Over before It Began
by David Schippers

The chief investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee in 1998, a Democrat from Chicago, reveals why President Bill Clinton was not removed from office despite massive evidence of obstruction of justice, perjury, and witness tampering. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2000.
Download DB51120

Truth at any Cost: Ken Starr and the Unmaking of Bill Clinton
by Susan Schmidt

Account of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's impeachment prosecution of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. Explores the hostile relations between Starr and the Justice Department and the role of prosecution witness Linda Tripp. Some strong language. 2000.
Download DB51607

Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation
by Kenneth Starr

A former special prosecutor, whose report led to the impeachment of President Clinton, recounts his investigations of the Clintons in the 1990s. Discusses his own motivations and details numerous scandals, including, among others, Whitewater, Vince Foster's death, Travelgate, and Monica Lewinsky. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2018.
Download DB91932

A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President
by Jeffrey Toobin

A behind-the-scenes account of the scandals surrounding President Bill Clinton. Toobin examines the Paula Jones case, Kenneth Starr's investigations, and the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky in detail. He concludes, "Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle," the victim of powerful forces from the right. Some strong language. Bestseller. 1999.
Download DB49966

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump was impeached by the House in December, 2019.

The Impeachment Report
by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

The official report detailing the findings of the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry, an investigation of whether President Donald J. Trump committed impeachable offenses when he sought to have Ukraine announce investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
Download DB97365

Report of Evidence in the Democrats' Impeachment Inquiry in the House of Representatives
by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

The official report from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Republican staff detailing their findings from the impeachment inquiry investigating whether President Donald J. Trump committed impeachable offenses when he sought to have Ukraine announce investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. 2019.
Download DB97433

Impeach: The Case against Donald Trump
by Neal Katyal with Sam Koppelman

Supreme Court lawyer and former Acting Solicitor General argues in favor of the impeachment of President Trump. Discusses potential consequences for American democracy and explains his own perspective on why the president's actions demand such consequences. 2019.
Download DB98366

True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump
by Jeffrey Toobin

A CNN legal analyst and author of Vast Conspiracy (DB 49966) and Oath (DB 75611) discusses the various failed investigations conducted against President Trump, including the Mueller investigation and impeachment proceedings as well as lower-profile incidents. Draws on interviews with prosecutors, the president's own legal team, Congressional investigators, White House staffers, and more. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.
Download DB100575

General

How to Get Rid of a President: History's Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives
by David Priess

The political history of various plans, efforts, and conspiracies attempting—both with and without success—to remove United States presidents from office. Includes accounts of renomination bid rejections, undermined authority, impeachment, and assassination. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2018.
Download DB93573

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