I don't understand how he could have been impeached but did not have to leave office.

  • 8
    Being impeached doesn't' guarantee the person impeached has to leave office. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States for some historical examples. Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 6:06
  • 2
    Problem with your question is he was not impeached in a way to have to leave office. I see you don't really understand the difference between Impeachment and Having to Leave Office. (Edited comment)
    – MichaelF
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 12:32
  • 5
    @MichaelF Not true. He was impeached. For a public official, impeachment is similar to an indictment. Clinton was charged with actions that were deemed "high crimes and misdemeanors", but was ultimately found not guilty. Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 14:33
  • 1
    Yeah but its the acquittal that counts. Impeachment in the House was a political move that failed, so while you can say there were articles that got passed in the House it never affected his term because he was acquitted. He didn't have to leave office because the Impeachment articles don't cause that.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 10:50
  • This particular topic is kind of a dog-whistle for USA citizens of a certian political stripe, and seems to have attracted more than its share of brand-new users for answers. By and large they've behaved themselves, but I still think its prudent to "protect" this question for now.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 18:21

4 Answers 4


Bill Clinton was acquitted. The senate did not reach the 2/3's majority needed to fully process his impeachment.

To further break it down.

Clinton was impeached by the House on two charges. The first being perjury, and the second being obstruction of justice.

Following this he was acquitted by the senate.

Wiki does it again!

  • 10
    Andrew Johnson (president from 1865-1869, following Lincoln's assassination) was also impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. No president has ever been convicted by the Senate.
    – mmyers
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 3:43
  • 3
    Here is the Congressional Record for Feb. 12, 1999, announcing the acquittal after a trial by the Senate: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/CongRec.png Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 16:09

The "impeachment" process takes place in two steps.

First, a President has to be impeached in the House of Representatives. that is the equivalent of an "indictment."

Then, the President is tried in the Senate, with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding. It requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to remove an impeached president.

President Clinton was impeached in the House (on two counts) but not removed by the Senate. Ditto for President Andrew Johnson (who survived by one vote). President Nixon resigned before the impeachment was completed in the House because it was clear that the Senate would have voted to remove him had the proceedings gone that far.

Put another way, President Clinton was "indicted" (impeached), tried, and acquitted. The "acquitted" part meant that he did not have to leave office.

  • I had no idea some SE questions had almost 1M page views... Just wow. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 19:10
  • @DenisdeBernardy Google. Likely a lot of people searches for Clinton, and for impeachment today. Historia est magistra vitae.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 2:01

Simply put, Bill Clinton WAS impeached. The impeachment process is similiar to a Grand Jury in which the House stands as the jury and decides whether or not sufficient evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor is sufficent to turn it over to trial in the Senate. So yes Bill Clinton WAS impeached...but the Senate accquitted him so he was not ousted from office.

Interestingly enough, the charges - which was perjury (lying under oath) - were enforced by the judge of the trial in which he lied. Bill Clinton was fined and lost his license to practise law.

So while he was not punished by the Senate, the judge DID enforce the charge...which BTW WAS true...the court transcripts were proof of that.

  • It may be worth noting possible differences in the standard of evidence required for removal from office (presumably innocent until proven guilty) and those necessary to avoid professional misconduct as a lawyer. Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 3:02

An Indictment from the house results in impeachment but after such charge, the impeached, are then tried before the senate and must be removed by a 2/3rd's vote as in.

  • 6
    This doesn't necessarily answer the OP's question. Please expand on it. Also, have you had a read through the other answers provided here? Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:33

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.