Almost as soon as Donald Trump was elected, members of the leftist intelligentsia were already assuaging their readers with predictions of an impending impeachment, citing their side as “the right side of history.”

But how likely is that outcome, exactly?

Turns out, not very. There have been several cases in the past when Congress has recommended an impeachment of a sitting U.S. president, only for the idea to be shut down by the Senate.

Andrew Johnson


Impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868. (Harper’s Weekly, Wikimedia Commons)

Following the Civil War, the nation elected the Tennessean and former U.S. senator was elected as president. With the nation still bitterly divided over some issues in Reconstruction, President Johnson made some moves that outraged some pro-Union congressmen. In a disagreement over top Cabinet posts, the House voted to impeach the president — although he  was acquitted in the Senate by a single vote and remained in office.

John Tyler

President John Tyler. (Wikimedia Commons)

President John Tyler. (Wikimedia Commons)

The first attempt at an impeachment was levied against President John Tyler by the Whigs. After vetoing legislation they were proud of, they created a Resolution charging that Tyler had abused states’ rights. It was eventually tabled in the House, however, after an initial committee led by John Quincy Adams failed to produce enough evidence of wrongdoing.

Richard Nixon

President Nixon with his edited transcripts of the White House Tapes (Wikimedia Commons)

President Nixon with his edited transcripts of the White House Tapes (Wikimedia Commons)

Following the uncovering of the Watergate scandal, a House committee began approving language for an impeachment just as President Richard Nixon decided to resign from office. It is perhaps the most successful attempt at an impeachment, because it directly preceded the president’s decision to step down.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton's cabinet. (Wikimedia Commons)

Bill Clinton’s cabinet. (Wikimedia Commons)

President Bill Clinton was actually impeached by the House on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in regards to his rumored affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. The president was eventually acquitted by the Senate, even after independent counsel Kenn Star had produced an investigation that found Clinton had lied while under deposition.