The American political system is defined as a unique state of political and constitutional stability, a way from the tremors and turmoil experienced by many countries of the world and plagued its political systems, and often lead to the overthrow of their presidents during their constitutional mandates. From George Washington, the first US president (1789-1797), to current US President Donald Trump (2017), no president has ever been removed from office, we present only three out of 45 presidents concerning the isolation measures, two of which are failed and the third case did not reach the end of track.
The isolation was codified in the US Constitution in the 1787 Pact of Philadelphia, when Benjamin Franklin proposed it as a good way to overthrow the “hated” presidents. US presidents can be legally removed from office if they are convicted of treason, bribery or other major crimes or misdemeanors. Today, US President Donald Trump faces increasing risks of being dismissed before his term ends after former campaign manager Paul Manavort has been convicted of fraud and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen has been admitted to violating campaign finance laws.
The talk about the isolation began early, a few months after Trump came to power as the issue of Russian intervention in the US election was revealed and the possibility of his complicity with the Russians was investigated. Dr. Alan Bachman predicted he would be dismissed before he completed his term, and Bachman, a famous historian, predicted, correctly, for the winning of the most presidents a long time ago.
In this context, two questions arise: What constitutional procedures should be followed to isolate the president of the United States of America, and who are the former American presidents who have been subjected to attempts to isolate?
The US Constitution provides for the removal of the president, his deputy or senior state officials after their trial and conviction on charges of bribery, treason or misdemeanors and other major crimes . The accountability process starts from the US House of Representatives as members can submit draft resolutions to hold the president accountable and the council can begin proceedings by approving a decision to authorize an investigation. The President’s accountability is required approval by a small majority in the House of Representatives, but his dismissal requires the approval of a two-thirds majority in the Senate. In the event of dismissal, the Vice-President will lead the country until the next regular presidential election.
After 1967, it became possible to resort to the Article 25 of the US Constitution, which was passed that year, to resolve the urgent problems that may occur at any time, which emerged strongly after the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy. This amendment (25) provides that the Vice President and most of the key staff in the executive departments may declare that the President is unable to perform his functions, in this case the Vice-President shall assume powers and functions as acting President.
The proceedings of the removal of US presidents in ordinary cases are usually carried out in two stages: the House of Representatives votes in the beginning by a simple majority on the indictment detailing the acts attributed to the president which is called by ” isolation” ., and in the case of charge , the senate assume the presidents trial . At the conclusion of the discussions ,the members of the senate votes on each article and a two-thirds majority must be obtained to convict the president . If this is achieved, the dismissal becomes automatically irreversible. If the required majority is not achieved, the president will be acquitted. This is what happened with Bill Clinton in February 1999. The law lecturer at Cornell University in Ohio ,James David Owen, explains ” the Judicial has no hand in the decisions of isolation and said It is enough for Congress to be convinced that the president has committed major crimes or misdemeanors. They are acting as judges to determine whether the standards of conviction are available. This makes isolation at the crossroads of politics and law and the matter basically does not require charging President, “according to Olen.
So the isolation is more political than legal, according to the British newspaper “The Guardian”, and the Republican Trump Party has a control over the Senate and House of Representatives, but the United States will witness in the next November the midterm elections that may lead to change the map of Congress, and Then determine the fate of Trump.
Historically, three US presidents (two Democrat and one Republican) have been subjected to attempts to isolate them from their positions for various reasons and justifications , they are :
– Andrew Johnson (1865-1869): a US Democratic president who has been involved in a conflict with the Republican-controlled Congress after being accused of breaking the law because of the removal of the US secretary of war from office, a decision he was not entitled to take in the wake of civil war , and confidence was withdrawn from him by the House of Representatives, but was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.
– Richard Nixon: (President of the United States of America, 37, from the Republican Party, 1969-1974) Nixon left the White House in 1974, almost three years after the end of his second term, having been forced to resign as a result of his involvement in the scandal of spying of three elements from the republican party on the headquarters of the Democratic Party in Washington, in what is known as the Watergate scandal. Watergate is the most famous political scandal in the history of the United States. It led to President Nixon’s resignation as the only president to resign in the country’s history and became a symbol of political scandals in the United States and the international community. If he does not resign , Nixon could have been convicted of three charges relating to the abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and defiance of the court’s decision to summon him.
– Bill Clinton 1993-2001 ” The 42nd President of the United States on the Democratic Party, was removed by the US House of Representatives on December 19, 1998, on charges of lying in the oath and obstruction of law because of his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a White House employee, but he was acquitted by the senate on 12 September 1999 and completed his presidential term.
International Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies