We haven’t had a good old fashioned presidential impeachment since the 20th century, so just in case y’all forgot, here’s how courtesy of Vox:
Last weekend, the South Dakota Republican Party voted to call for the impeachment of President Obama. It seems to be the first official adoption of impeachment as policy by a state GOP organization, but it’s the latest example that parts of the conservative base are yearning for it. Since Republican leaders aren’t on board, impeachment seems unlikely to actually happen unless some major new scandal emerges. But — just in case — here’s how the process actually works.
The Constitution says that the president can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” But many have argued that the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is really up to the House to decide. When Gerald Ford was House Minority Leader, he said, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” And as a practical matter, he’s absolutely right. If the House wants to vote to impeach the president, it doesn’t seem that anyone can stop it from doing so — the Constitution says it has “the sole Power of Impeachment.”
However, in our two 20th-century examples where Congress seriously weighed impeachment — for Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton — they did so only after dramatic revelations from preexisting investigations. For Nixon, a select Senate committee had been investigating his campaign’s potential involvement in the Watergate break-ins, leading to the sensational revelation of a White House taping system and Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. For Clinton, independent counsel Ken Starr had been operating a years-long investigation into various sprawling matters, until he finally filed a report alleging that Clinton had lied under oath and obstructed justice to prevent his affair with Monica Lewinsky from becoming known. So would-be impeachers have needed some body to build their case first — such as, for instance, a select committee on Benghazi…
[continues at Vox]