Impeach Definition and Legal Meaning
On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Impeach, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.
What is Impeach?
To sue, accuse or dispute. Contradicting the statement of the the witness by providing another statement by someone or bringing in the evidence of happening outside the court. It also refers to the punishment in form of removal from the duty of government official for a public crime commited.
History and Meaning of Impeach
The term "impeach" has its roots in English law and originally referred to holding someone accountable for their actions. In the United States, impeachment is the process by which a government official, such as the President, Vice President, or federal judge, can be removed from office for "high crimes and misdemeanors." This includes acts such as abusing power, bribery, and obstruction of justice.
To initiate impeachment proceedings, the House of Representatives must first pass articles of impeachment. Then, a trial is held in the Senate to determine whether or not to remove the official from office. Impeachment is a rare and serious process, with only three U.S. Presidents having been impeached in history (Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump).
Examples of Impeach
- The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in 2019.
- In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
- In 1876, Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached by the House of Representatives for accepting bribes. He resigned the same day the House passed the articles of impeachment.
Legal Terms Similar to Impeach
- Censure - a formal reprimand for a government official's misconduct, but does not remove them from office.
- Recall - the procedure by which an elected official can be removed from office by a vote of the people.
- Indictment - a formal accusation of a crime, which may or may not lead to a trial and conviction.