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I have seen and heard of multiple stories about Donald Trump accused of racism and because of what was going on in Charlottesville and his words regarding it. So this brings me to wonder a few things:

  • What would be some of the reasons Congress would want to "censure" Donald Trump?

  • What exactly would "censuring" Trump mean for America, could it prevent something, etc.?

    • I saw they are forced to give up committee chairmanships (whatever that means)
    • I also saw it'd be an official statement of disapproval, etc.

The real question perhaps: Is this really all there is to this for what it means or is there more to this or could it be put into context so it's easy for a political dummy to understand what this means, does, etc.?


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A Censure is a formal condemnation of the actions of an individual person. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate can make such a statement. They decide on doing so with a vote, just like with any other decision.

There are no direct consequences when the US President in censured by Congress. It is merely a symbolic gesture.

There were only three cases where US presidents were successfully censured, all of them over 150 years ago:

  • Andrew Jackson in 1834 for withholding documents relating to his actions in defunding the Bank of the United States.
  • John Tyler in 1842 for various reasons. Long story short: There was a motion to impeach him. When that impeachment failed, a Senate committee decided to at least censure him.
  • James Polk in 1848 for inciting the Mexican–American war without Congress approval.

There were also some failed attempts at censuring the president which did not achieve the necessary majority:

  • Abraham Lincoln in 1864 for violating the rule that members of congress must not hold an army commission.
  • Bill Clinton in 1998 for the Lewinski scandal (the only example from recent history).

The thing about committee chairmanship is specific to the censure of a Congressmember by the Congress. In that case they automatically lose the chairmanship in any Congress committees they lead. But that's not relevant in the case of a censure of the President. The President is not a member of Congress and thus isn't even a member of any committees, let alone chairman. If you have questions about Congress committees, that would be a topic for a different question

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