President Trump was impeached during his time in office, but he was recently acquitted and President Clinton was impeached, but was able to remain in office. Are there any further political consequences the current president or any future president can face from impeachment even if they are acquitted/remain in office, or do the consequences of impeachment stop once the Senate decides not to remove the commander-and-chief (other than the stigma of being one of the few American leaders to have been impeached)?

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    I'm curious why you make the distinction between Trump being 'acquitted' and Clinton being 'impeached but remaining in office'. Both Trump and Clinton were impeached; both Trump and Clinton were acquitted by the Senate. they are exactly the same procedures with exactly the same outcome. Feb 6, 2020 at 23:55

3 Answers 3


We don't really know and it depends a lot what you mean by "consequences" too...

In two of the three impeachment cases that went almost this far, Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon, the legislature in each case accused the president of abusing his powers and the legislature in subsequent years scaled back some of the president’s power. We didn’t see that after the Clinton impeachment, and I think one of the reasons is because 9/11 happened so quickly after, and it just changed the entire conversation overall. So typically, the legislature would recognize it’s their responsibility to encroach back on executive power because they’d want to make the legislature more powerful.

I don’t think that’s going to happen in this case, because legislators from the beginning have viewed this in partisan terms rather than constitutional terms.

Trump like Johnson (and unlike Clinton) is in his first term. But unlike Johnson it's extremely unlikely Trump will be dropped from the ticket...

But, here are the differences: Andrew Johnson was dropped from the presidential ticket in 1868 (the year of his impeachment was an election year). And the Republicans, the opposition party, knew whom they wanted to head their own ticket: war hero General Ulysses S. Grant, who could unite all ends of their party. In fact, it was the 500,000 votes of black men in the South that carried the election for Grant — the very men that Johnson had tried to deny the vote.

I.e. the past is a poor predictor of what the consequences might be in this case. We probably won't see a repeat of some past consequences in such cases.

Fivethirtyeight has a long article speculating what the consequences might be for Trump and the Democrats in the near future. It basically predicts that polarization will deepen.

As for the consequences for future presidents, (mostly) Republicans (e.g. Senator Joni Ernst and Trump's lawyers) have argued that Trump's impeachment makes future partisan impeachments more likely. Democrats had argued the same at the time of Clinton's impeachment. Cipollone actually replayed some clips to that effect during his defense of Trump.

  • Johnson was a life-long Democrat who did not support succession and was selected to be Lincoln's Vice President on the National Union Party ticket - a Civil War party that joined Republicans and anti-succession "War Democrats". After the Civil War ended, the reasons for that "marriage of convenience" ended, and Johnson had major policy differences with the Republican party, especially Johnson being much, much more tolerant of Southern restrictions on newly-freed slaves.
    – Just Me
    Feb 6, 2020 at 22:35
  • (cont) Johnson was not a popular person in Republican-controlled post-Civil War Washington, hence his being impeached - by the Republicans. There was no chance whatsoever Johnson was going to be on the 1868 Republican party ticket. And the fact that he was Vice President for the effectively-renamed Republican "National Union Party" with himself playing window dressing in exchange for the Vice Presidency more than alienated Democrats, too.
    – Just Me
    Feb 6, 2020 at 22:41
  • (cont) Offhand, the closest current analogy I can come up with for Johnson is a really forced hypothetical: imagine Hillary Clinton had won in 2016 but then governed exactly as Trump has done, with the same judicial appointments, impeachment and all. The final vote probably would have been similar to the actual Trump impeachment votes and there'd be no way she'd be on the 2020 Democratic Party ticket.
    – Just Me
    Feb 6, 2020 at 22:48
  • Hmmm, given the nature of Clinton's impeachment-related offenses, what curbs on his "power" would you have had in mind? Inquiring minds want to know. Feb 7, 2020 at 2:59
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica: It was a quote, not my own words, but hypothetically speaking Congress could have been annoyed at [Clinton's] invocation(s) of executive privilege and maybe done something about that, as it's only based on some Rehnquist doctrine plus some court cases rather than anything hardwired in the constitution. Feb 7, 2020 at 4:21

None at all. Technically it makes it harder to impeach again. You need to find new charges.

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    Double jeopardy doesn't apply to impeachment: Impeachment is limited to removal/barring from office, which is does not meet the standard required in the Constitutional protections: "nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb". Feb 6, 2020 at 22:00
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    @TemporalWolf but since this is Politics, not Law, it's certainly true that politically speaking a second impeachment will be more difficult, and practically speaking it would have no chance of success on the same charges unless dramatically damaging evidence were to come to light.
    – phoog
    Feb 6, 2020 at 22:20
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    In Trump's case you wouldn't need new evidence to come to light, you would need a Senate that was prepared to look at evidence.
    – armb
    Feb 7, 2020 at 11:49

No. Once the impeachment trial has ended and a Not Guilty verdict has been reached, that is the end of the impeachment process.

Barring any subsequent impeachments by the House of Representatives, President Trump will be able to continue to the end of his current term in January 2021, and may stand as a candidate in this November's election.

  • The question is about political consequences, not legal consequences.
    – Barmar
    Feb 7, 2020 at 9:16

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