Most everyone knows that President Donald J. Trump was acquitted last week in his impeachment trial by the Senate.
We also know that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that regardless of whether he was convicted or not, he would forever be stuck with the “but he was impeached” tag.
If you are historically aware, you also know that this was the third impeachment trial of a sitting U.S. President. Interestingly, none have ever been convicted. It is possible that President Richard Nixon may have been convicted, had his trial ever been conducted, but he resigned before it went that far.
Just to refresh your memory, in order for the senate to convict, a 2/3 majority must vote for a guilty verdict. A simple majority is not sufficient. Per the U.S. Constitution, a full 2/3 of senators must vote for the conviction, or else the President is acquitted.
So we are left with three actual impeachments.
- President Andrew Johnson was acquitted by 1 vote. He did not have a simple majority, but he was not convicted. The vote was 35-19.
- President William J. Clinton was acquitted by 17 votes on one charge (it was 50-50), and by 22 votes (45-55) on a second.
- President Donald J. Trump was acquitted by 19 votes (52-48) on one charge and by 20 votes (53-47) on a second.
Note that in both of the first two impeachments, neither president had a clear majority on all counts. Yes, Clinton had a 50-50 split on one, and it is a bit murky about who would cast the deciding vote if a simple majority was sufficient. Some say the Vice President could do so, while others say it would be the Chief Justice of SCOTUS, who presides. But still, Johnson was a hair’s breadth from being convicted and removed from office, and while Clinton was never in real danger of being removed, did fail to convince a majority of senators of his innocence.
So we come to our third impeachment – President Donald Trump. He not only was acquitted, but for the first time in history, won a clear majority on all charges. He not only survived, he kicked this impeachment’s ass.
Will he be stuck with the “but he was impeached” stigma? Well, it will always be a historical fact. But it will not stop the Trumpslide 2020, that is for sure.