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How many Federal officials have been impeached, convicted, and removed from office unwillingly?

To qualify a federal official must have been:

  • impeached by the House
  • convicted by the Senate
  • then as a result removed from office against their will

So Clinton, (who was acquitted by the senate), and Nixon, (who resigned), are excluded.

I'm not just asking about presidents, I want to know about impeachment from any federal office.

  • 28
    I don't understand the "too broad" votes to close. This is a very specific question with a well defined answer, and the answer below shows. Even if it had asked for all state and federal impeachments, that is quite a finite answerable question, although it is a bit harder and would take more work to answer. – ohwilleke Oct 25 '17 at 5:50
  • @ohwilleke I voted to close this as too broad because there are a great many federal positions for which an impeachment process may exist and have been executed. – Drunk Cynic Oct 26 '17 at 14:56
  • @DrunkCynic Have some faith. Just because a question seems difficult to answer for you doesn't mean someone else can't answer it. The knee jerk tendency to close legitimate questions is the main problem with PoliticsSE. – ohwilleke Oct 26 '17 at 17:23
  • @ohwilleke "Knee jerk" is an errant descriptor. It isn't that I find the question hard, and wished it smote because it challenged me. Rather, as stated, the question is unduely vague in its use of "impeached." – Drunk Cynic Oct 26 '17 at 17:39
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Another source states:

In all, the House of Representatives has impeached only 19 federal officials, and the Senate has conducted formal impeachment trials with seven acquittals, eight convictions, three dismissals and one resignation (Nixon’s) with no further action.

This is inaccurate as Nixon was never impeached in the first place. He resigned while the House was considering impeaching him.

Two Presidents (Johnson and Clinton) were impeached but acquitted.

Only two people other than a judge or a President were impeached.

  1. Secretary of War William W. Belknap was impeached for graft and corruption, but acquitted after resigning on August 1, 1876.

  2. U.S. Senator from Tennessee William Blount who was impeached for conspiring to assist Britain in capturing Spanish territory. In Blount's case, the Senate refused to accept impeachment of a Senator by the House of Representatives, instead expelling him from the Senate on its own authority.

Expelling vs Impeachment

Art. I, § 5, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.", which is how the Senator was expelled.

In contrast, impeachment is provided for in Art. II, § 4: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." The impeachment process is in Art. I, §§ 3 (House impeachment) and 4 (Senate trial) and referred to in Art. III, § 2 (constitutional venue rules don't apply to impeachments).


The other fifteen impeachments were all of judges and eight of those judges were convicted by the Senate (incidentally, seven of those eight judges were exclusively trial court judges as opposed to appellate judges).

Four of them were acquitted following a trial in the Senate (one was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice acquitted on charges of being politically driven, two were trial court judges charged with abuse of power and one was a trial court judge charged with corruption).

Three of the judges, all serving as trial court judges, resigned following their impeachment resulting in the dismissal of the cases before the Senate reached a verdict (one was charged with abuse of power, one with rape and obstruction of justice, and one with drunkenness).

This source also notes that:

And just like at the federal level, impeachment at the state level is extremely rare. For example, the state of Illinois has impeached only two officials in its entire history—a judge in 1832-33 and a governor (Rod Blagojevich) in 2008-09.

Thus, there have been eight people removed involuntarily from federal office via the impeachment process since the United States Constitution took effect in 1789. Wikipedia confirms the 19 impeachments and their resolutions discussing each one in turn. The eight removals were as follows:

  1. Judge John Pickering (District of New Hampshire) for drunkenness and unlawful rulings. Removed on March 12, 1804.

  2. Judge West Hughes Humphreys (Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Tennessee) for supporting the Confederacy. Removed and disqualified on June 26, 1862. (He actually served simultaneously as a Union judge and a Confederate judge.)

  3. Associate Justice Robert Wodrow Archbald (United States Commerce Court) and Judge (Third Circuit Court of Appeals) for improper acceptance of gifts from litigants and attorneys. Removed and disqualified on January 13, 1913.

  4. Judge Halsted L. Ritter (Southern District of Florida) for champerty, corruption, tax evasion, and practicing law while a judge. Removed on April 17, 1936. (Champerty means financing or purchasing someone else's lawsuit.)

  5. Judge Harry E. Claiborne (District of Nevada) for tax evasion. Removed on October 9, 1986.

  6. Judge Alcee Hastings (Southern District of Florida) for accepting a bribe, and committing perjury during the resulting investigation. Removed on October 20, 1989.

  7. Chief Judge Walter Nixon (Southern District of Mississippi) for perjury. Removed on November 3, 1989.

  8. Judge Thomas Porteous (Eastern District of Louisiana) for making false financial disclosures. Removed and disqualified on December 8, 2010.

  • 2
    Please explain the difference between the actual impeachment and expulsion of Senator Blount , vs. impeachment, conviction and removal. – agc Oct 25 '17 at 6:22
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    @agc My understanding is that the Senate didn't accept the impeachment of Blount as legitimate in any way, and expelled him themselves on a 2/3 vote. – Azor Ahai Oct 25 '17 at 15:53
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    This is a more-official source: history.house.gov/Institution/Impeachment/Impeachment-List – DavePhD Oct 25 '17 at 17:00
  • @DavePhD Great catch. – ohwilleke Oct 25 '17 at 22:25
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According to a cursory search, just 16 Federal officials have been impeached.

In US history, just 16 federal officials — one senator, one cabinet secretary, two presidents, and 12 judges — were impeached.

  • 2
    Neither of the Presidents were removed from office as a result, and a removal of a Senator is actually a different process than impeachment that involves only the Senate and not the House. so the actually total is not more than thirteen. – ohwilleke Oct 25 '17 at 5:46
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    This answer would be better if it, in addition to that URL, included a listing of the officials names, as well as their respective dates of impeachment and conviction, and perhaps the general reasons for impeachment. – agc Oct 25 '17 at 5:52

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