Donald Trump's testimony as he speaks on stage into a microphone.

Was President Trump impeached? If so, when and why did it happen?

President Trump was impeached twice, once while he was president in 2019 and once after he left office in 2020. In her book The Confidence Man, Maggie Haberman discusses both of Trump’s impeachments.

Read on for more details about Trump’s impeachments.

The 2019 Impeachment

Was President Trump impeached, and why? On July 25, 2019, Trump placed a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, urging him to launch a corruption investigation into Joe Biden—the former vice president and a potential challenger to Trump in 2020. On this call, Trump implied that he might withhold military aid to Ukraine if Zelenskyy didn’t initiate the investigation. The call prompted House Democrats to impeach the President for blackmailing an allied country.

The Case Against the 2019 Trump Impeachment

Trump’s defenders mounted several arguments against impeachment in 2019, including: 

Lack of direct evidence: Supporters argue that the impeachment case lacked direct evidence of wrongdoing by Trump. They suggested that the transcripts of Trump’s phone call with Zelenskyy didn’t explicitly establish a quid pro quo.

Concerns about process: Trump’s defenders also raised concerns about the impeachment process, asserting that it lacked transparency and fairness. They criticized the Democratic-controlled House Intelligence Committee’s closed-door hearings, arguing that it denied due process to the President.

No clear impeachable offense: Defenders further argued that, even if some actions by Trump were inappropriate, they didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Trump’s defenders stressed the importance of distinguishing between improper conduct and conduct warranting impeachment.

Political motivations: Some Trump defenders argued that the Democratic push for impeachment was politically motivated, particularly given its timing close to the 2020 election. They suggested that Democrats were pursuing impeachment for strategic reasons rather than out of a genuine concern for the rule of law.

National security concerns: Finally, defenders of Trump contended that the impeachment inquiry would have negative implications for national security. They argued that focusing on impeachment distracted from critical issues and undermined the President’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

A Second Impeachment

After leaving the presidency, Trump was impeached for a second time. However, she notes, his support among GOP members of Congress was near-unanimous, with nearly the entire Republican House and Senate voting against impeachment. 

In the post-presidency period, Trump continued to deny the election results. In interviews with him, many were struck by how frankly and openly he seemed to view his presidency solely as a means of acquiring more fame, attention, recognition, and power. Trump had succeeded in realigning and polarizing American politics—with his rages and resentments serving as a broader projection of the nation’s seemingly intractable divisions.

Was President Trump Impeached? Yes, Twice Actually

Becca King

Becca’s love for reading began with mysteries and historical fiction, and it grew into a love for nonfiction history and more. Becca studied journalism as a graduate student at Ohio University while getting their feet wet writing at local newspapers, and now enjoys blogging about all things nonfiction, from science to history to practical advice for daily living.

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