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How to Remove a US President from Office

How to Remove a U.S. President from Office
The American government provides avenues on how to remove a U.S. president from office. These are the three primary reasons: criminal activity, inability to perform presidential duties and lack of party and public popularity.

Criminal Activity

One way to remove a U.S. president from office is through impeachment and consecutive conviction. This method is intended to be implemented should the president commit a crime. The president has the same rights of due process as any other legal defendant, and therefore must be indicted of an actual crime, which involves violating a law that was passed prior to him committing the crime.

The impeachment process requires agreement between both legislative bodies. The House of Representatives requires a simple majority, more than 50% of the vote, to impeach. The Senate requires a two-thirds majority.

Congress has impeached two presidents in the nation’s history. Congress impeached the 17th president, Andrew Johnson, after he replaced Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton with General Ulysses S. Grant because this violated the Tenure of Office Act.

Congress impeached the 42nd president Bill Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice following Clinton’s testimony of his extramarital affair during a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by Arkansas state employee Paula Jones.

Congress did not convict Johnson nor Clinton, however, and they remained in office.

Inability to Perform Presidential Duties

Another enumerated power which facilitates the removal of a U.S. president is the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment allows the president to voluntarily step aside if he feels he may be physically or emotionally unable to perform presidential duties.

The amendment states the president’s cabinet may transfer the powers of the president to the vice president as determined by a majority vote. If the president challenges this decision, Congress determines whether to restore the president to power. In the absence of a two-thirds vote in both houses, the president returns to power. Congress has never fully implemented this method of removal.

This provision of the 25th Amendment, implemented as a safeguard should the president become unable to fulfill his duties, works as a contingency if the president becomes incapacitated or unable to resign. This provision also applies if the president is captured or kidnapped and unable to act or if concerns arise that the president may not be mentally able to continue his term.

Lack of Party and Public Popularity

Last but not least, the president could be denied a second term in one of two ways: by the president’s own party, should it choose to nominate someone else in the next presidential election, or by voters who contribute to the president’s loss in the next election.

Since World War II, three U.S. presidents have lost the election for their second term: presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush.

The government provides multiple avenues on how to remove a U.S. president from office. These account for the variety of circumstances which may warrant a removal.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr