What Does It Mean to Be Impeached?

Dive into the fascinating world of impeachment. What does it mean for a public official to be impeached? Let’s break down the process, the impact & explore some historical instances.

Understanding the Concept of Impeachment

Impeachment, in a political context, is a process that allows the legislative body to level charges against a government official, the charged official facing removal from office. This is included within the constitution of many democracies to maintain checks and balances, ensuring that no individual in power can operate above the law.

The Impeachment Process

Impeachment proceedings vary from country to country, but a general outline is as follows:

  • The initiation of the impeachment process, usually by a member of the legislative body
  • The draw up of articles of impeachment outlining the alleged offenses
  • The legislative body votes on each article of impeachment
  • If at least one of the articles of impeachment gets a majority vote, the accused is impeached

In the United States, the impeachment process can be initiated by any member of the House of Representatives. If the House votes to impeach, the accused goes on trial in the Senate.

Notable Historical Cases of Impeachment

In US history, three Presidents – Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump – have faced impeachment. All these Presidents were impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate, meaning none of them were removed from office.

The Impact of Impeachment on an Official’s Legacy

While impeachment does not automatically result in removal from office, it can considerably tarnish a public official’s reputation and credibility. For presidents, the historical record of impeachment can greatly impact how their tenure is evaluated and remembered.


In conclusion, being impeached means that a public official has been formally charged with misconduct by a legislative body. Although it doesn’t necessarily lead to removal from office, it is a grave allegation that can affect an official’s career and public perception. Impeachment acts as a powerful tool of accountability in a democracy to control misuse of power.

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