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Jane Williams

What actually is impeachment?

The process of impeachment has its origins deep in English Common Law, and was adopted by the authors of the U.S. constitution as a mechanism to oust wayward officials, including presidents.  Section 4 of Article 2 states “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers shall be removed from office on Impeachment for, and on Conviction of Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanours”.

Michael de la Pole, 1st Earl of Suffolk, a 14th Century English nobleman was the first recorded official to be impeached and thrown out of office for “high crimes and misdemeanours”.  De la Pole’s high crime?  As the king’s chancellor he had failed to pay a ransom for the town of Ghent in 1836, which subsequently fell to the French.