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Trump's 2nd impeachment 'unprecedented' in history

Andrew Johnson, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton are

Andrew Johnson, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton are the only presidents in U.S. history who have been impeached. Credit: Getty Images/Universal Images Group/Nicholas Kamm/Tim Sloan

Wednesday’s impeachment of President Donald Trump is the first time a U.S. president was impeached twice. Only two other presidents have been impeached: Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

"We clearly are in unprecedented times," said Meena Bose, director of the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University.

Wednesday's impeachment vote "one week before Trump’s term ends, demonstrates the gravity of the president’s continuing unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud and the connection to the horrifying attack on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters on January 6," Bose said Wednesday.

The other presidents who were impeached are:

Andrew Johnson

Johnson was the first president impeached, in 1868. The Senate acquitted him of 11 articles of impeachment brought against him by the House. Johnson was a Democrat from Tennessee who ran on the same unity ticket as Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. When Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Vice President Johnson became president and soon after clashed with some members of Congress critical of his policies. Most historians have rated Johnson one of the most incompetent and worst presidents in history. Johnson clashed with a radical band of Republicans who wanted to provide rights to freed slaves and prevent Confederate leaders from regaining political control of Southern states, policies that were blocked by Johnson. The main article of impeachment was challenging Johnson’s power to replace Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in his Cabinet; many members of Congress wanted Stanton retained. Congress accused Johnson of violating the Tenure of Office Act of 1867, which required Senate approval to remove top officeholders. The Senate led by Republicans came within one vote of convicting Johnson on that article, but ultimately failed to convict on any of the charges. Historians cite two major results of the impeachment that are relevant today. It affirmed a president’s right to replace an appointed Cabinet member and it showed Congress couldn’t impeach a president simply because it disagreed with policy and style. The tenure act was repealed in 1887.

Bill Clinton

Clinton, a Democrat, was impeached in 1998, although the trial by the GOP-led Senate acquitted him of all charges in January 1999. The principal articles of impeachment against him by a partisan vote in the Republican-led House were lying under oath and obstruction of justice. The charges were based on Clinton’s testimony in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones and Clinton’s statements in an inquiry into an affair with Monica Lewinsky, an intern in the White House. The cases were investigated by independent counsel Kenneth Starr for the House Judiciary Committee. Clinton swore he never had "sexual relations" with Lewinsky, although he later admitted the affair and said he misled the country in his statements. Republicans ended up losing seats in the 1998 midterm election, a rarity for the party opposing the sitting president.

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