clock menu more-arrow no yes

How impeachment works

There’s no removing a president without bipartisanship.

When America’s Founding Fathers were debating how to set up a brand new government, they ran into a problem: What should happen if a president, in Benjamin Franklin’s words, has “rendered himself obnoxious”?

Most countries didn’t have elected leaders, or ways to get rid of them. So Franklin and the framers turned to a provision of British common law known as impeachment.

But the Founding Fathers put their own American spin on it. For one thing, impeachment in America wouldn’t end in death, the way it sometimes did in Great Britain. The founders also set up the process so that it was nearly impossible for a president to be removed from power without significant support from his own political party.

From Reconstruction to Watergate to Bill Clinton’s saga, support from the president’s party was critical to either removing a president or keeping him in power. Check out the video above to find out how.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Meat/Less

How to eat well and do good, in 5 emails.