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President Andrew Johnson impeached

President Andrew Johnson impeached



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The U.S. House of Representatives votes 11 articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson, nine of which cite Johnson’s removal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The House vote made President Johnson the first president to be impeached in U.S. history.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Andrew Johnson, a senator from Tennessee, was the only U.S. senator from a seceding state who remained loyal to the Union. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee, and in 1864 he was elected vice president of the United States. Sworn in as president after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Johnson enacted a lenient Reconstruction policy for the defeated South, including almost total amnesty to ex-Confederates, a program of rapid restoration of U.S.-state status for the seceded states, and the approval of new, local Southern governments, which were able to legislate “Black Codes” that preserved the system of slavery in all but its name.

READ MORE: How Many U.S. Presidents Have Faced Impeachment?

The Republican-dominated Congress greatly opposed Johnson’s Reconstruction program and in March 1867 passed the Tenure of Office Act over the president’s veto. The bill prohibited the president from removing officials confirmed by the Senate without senatorial approval and was designed to shield members of Johnson’s Cabinet like Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who had been a leading Republican radical in the Lincoln administration. In the fall of 1867, President Johnson attempted to test the constitutionality of the act by replacing Stanton with General Ulysses S. Grant. However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rule on the case, and Grant turned the office back to Stanton after the Senate passed a measure in protest of the dismissal.

On February 21, 1868, Johnson decided to rid himself of Stanton once and for all and appointed General Lorenzo Thomas, an individual far less favorable to the Congress than Grant, as secretary of war. Stanton refused to yield, barricading himself in his office, and the House of Representatives, which had already discussed impeachment after Johnson’s first dismissal of Stanton, initiated formal impeachment proceedings against the president. On February 24, Johnson was impeached, and on March 13 his impeachment trial began in the Senate under the direction of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. The trial ended on May 26 with Johnson’s opponents narrowly failing to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary to convict him.

READ MORE: What Happens in a Senate Impeachment Trial?


The Case for Impeachment, December 1867

On December 5, just days after Johnson’s scathing message, the House brought the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment recommendation to the floor for consideration. Journalists and visitors packed the galleries while Senators interrupted their deliberations to watch proceedings from the rear of the House Chamber. 42

Although Thomas Williams had authored the report, Radicals on the Judiciary Committee asked George Boutwell to make the case for impeachment before the full House. 43 Boutwell’s legal analysis did not disappoint. For more than four hours, in a speech that stretched over two legislative days—and was later described by historian Michael Les Benedict as “the clearest, most eloquent, and most convincing argument for the liberal view of the impeachment power”—Boutwell articulated the need for a broad interpretation of those powers and cut the legs out from under the doctrine that impeachment required a clear violation of the law before it could be applied. 44 Impeachment, he said, pointing to British precedent as well as debates from the Constitutional Convention, was meant to be applied in instances when the public trust had been violated, when an officer refused to “faithfully execute the Office.” It was not enough to wait for the next election to turn out an unfit President. 45

Johnson’s misdeeds were flagrant, Boutwell argued. They walked right up to the line of criminality by subverting or refusing to uphold the law, and were clearly impeachable: Johnson vetoed the Reconstruction Acts which Congress had passed overwhelmingly he urged the southern states under federal control to refuse to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment he created unauthorized provisional governorships and he appointed provisional governors who were ineligible to take the official loyalty oath because of their participation in the Confederate rebellion. 46

“To this House is given under the Constitution the sole power of impeachment and this power of impeachment furnishes the only means by which we can secure the execution of the laws,” Boutwell intoned. “And those of our fellow-citizens who desire the administration of the law ought to sustain this House while it executes the great law which is in its hands and which is nowhere else, while it is performing a high and solemn duty resting upon it by which that man who has been the chief violator of the law shall be removed, and without which there can be no execution of the law anywhere. . . . If we neglect or refuse to use our powers when the case arises demanding decisive action, the Government ceases to be a Government of laws and becomes a Government of men.” 47

Wilson feared that by interpreting its impeachment powers broadly, as Boutwell wanted, the House could, in theory, dictate policy to future Presidents. 50 Boutwell had framed part of his argument around the idea that impeachment could be used as a tool to prevent Johnson from interfering in the southern states during the 1868 presidential election, specifically the fear that Johnson would suppress African-American voters. But by this logic, Wilson asked, would the House impeach the President for what he might do? “This would lead us even beyond the conscience of this House,” Wilson warned. In his closing remarks, he asked, “If we cannot arraign the President for a specific crime for what are we to proceed against him?” 51

Ultimately, Wilson’s argument won. On December 7 the House voted against impeachment, 108 to 57. Sixty-six Republicans and 42 Democrats had decided that Johnson’s actions did not meet their threshold for what constituted “high Crimes and Misdemeanors. 52

“You will see how Congress backed down on impeachment & can guess the effect of it on the whole of the South followed by such a message as the last,” lamented Representative George Julian, a Radical Republican from Indiana who enthusiastically supported impeachment. “It is pitiful.” 53

In the press, a National Intelligencer headline declared, “The Death of Impeachment.” 54 Radicals in the House feared that Johnson had slipped through their fingers.


Footnotes

1 “War Department,” 22 February 1868, New York Times: 1. See also “Washington: Secretary Stanton Removed,” 22 February 1868, New York Tribune: 1.

2 Congressional Globe, House, 40th Cong., 2nd sess. (21 February 1868): 1326.

3 Richard White, The Republic For Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and The Gilded Age, 1865–1896 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017): 50–55.

4 Hans L. Trefousse, Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997): 224.

5 Congressional Globe, House, 40th Cong., 2nd sess. (21 February 1868): 1328.

6 The quotation attributed to Pike has many permutations. This one comes from a contemporary source: “Removal of Mr. Stanton,” 22 February 1868, Baltimore Sun: 1. See also Michael Les Benedict, A Compromise of Principle: Congressional Republicans and Reconstruction, 1863–1869 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1974): 297.

7 Congressional Globe, House, 40th Cong., 2nd sess. (21 February 1868): 1329.


What happened after Andrew Johnson was impeached?

On February 24, 1868, the House voted to impeach Johnson by a vote of 126 to 47.

This was carried out without holding hearings first or having specific charges against him.

The House subsequently drew up eleven charges against the president, mainly associated with his alleged violations of the Tenure of Office Act and the Command of the Army Act.

But it also included charges that his actions had brought disgrace and ridicule to the presidency.

The managers of the House of Representatives Impeachment Committee presented the articles to the Senate for trial on March 4.

And Johnson's impeachment trial began with opening statements on March 30, presided over by Chief Justice Chase.


Why Was Andrew Johnson Impeached?

Andrew Johnson was the 17th president of the United States who served from April 15, 1865 to May 5, 1869. He was impeached on February 24, 1868, after violating the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson had fired Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, which was in violation of the law that requires the president to get Senate approval before dismissing a member of the cabinet. Stanton was a radical and an influential Republican, and the Republican members of the House of Representatives sought to impeach the Democrat president three days later. Johnson had fired Stanton because of the constant clashes with members of the Republican Party concerning the treatment of the South after the end of the American Civil War. Republicans considered the president sympathetic and friendly to former slaveholders. Although the Republicans had more than the required two-thirds membership in the Senate, a small number of those members chose to support the president's action, and Johnson ultimately survived the conviction by a single vote.


Impeachment Time Line

March 2, 1867
President Johnson vetoes the Tenure of Office Act. This Act states that a President may not dismiss appointed officials without the consent of Congress. Johnson felt this was a violation of the Constitution.Congress overrides Johnson's veto and the act becomes law. Johnson later removes Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, from his cabinet. This will become an Article of Impeachment.

1867
A measure is added to the Army Appropriations Act for 1867-8 that stated the President had to issue all military orders through the General of the army stationed in Washington, D.C. Johnson felt this hindered his rights as Commander in Chief of the army and navy.

Johnson later places conservative generals in command in the South, thereby disregarding the Army Appropriations Act and Congress's desire for strict military reconstruction. This will also become an Article of Impeachment.

February 21, 1868
Andrew Johnson issues an order removing Edwin Stanton from the office of Secretary of War without the consent of Congress, thereby breaching the rules set forth in the Tenure of Office Act.

February 24, 1868
The U.S. House of Representatives passes a resolution impeaching the President of "high crimes and misdemeanors" by a strict party vote of 128 to 47. After the vote, the House appointed a committee to draw up specific charges.

February 29, 1868
The House committee reported ten articles of impeachment. After debate, the number of articles were reduced to nine. All but two were based on Johnson's alleged violation of the Tenure of Office Act. After the House adopted these charges, it added two more articles of Impeachment.

March 4, 1868
The House managers deliver and exhibit the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

March 5, 1868
The court on impeachment convenes and Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, takes the oath as presiding officer of the impeachment trial.

March 23, 1868
President Johnson's counsel responds to the articles.

March 24, 1868
The House managers file a reply to the President's response.

March 30, 1868
The trial begins.

April 4, 1868
The House managers conclude the presentation of their case.

April 9, 1868
The president's attorneys begin their defense.

April 20, 1868
The presiden't attorneys conclude the presentation of their case.

April 22, 1868
Closing arguments begin.

May 6, 1868
Closing arguments end.

May 12, 1868
The first vote on the articles is scheduled, but postponed until May 16 due to the illness of Senator Jacob Howard, MI.

May 16, 1868
The first vote is taken on the eleventh article, which was considered to be the one to have the most support for conviction. The vote was 35 to convict and 19 to acquit, one vote short of the two-thirds necessary to convict.

Seven Republican Senators voted for acquittal, one of whom was Senator Edmond Ross of Kansas. He was the last undecided Republican, and it was his vote in the impeachment trial that determined the fate of the President. By voting with his conscience, his own political career was ruined.

The Chief Justice announces, "Two-thirds not having pronounced guilty, the President is, therefore, acquitted of this article."

The Senate adjourns for ten days.

May 26, 1868
The second and third votes on the first and second articles are taken with the same result as the first vote on May 16. The majority gave up and a motion to adjourn carried. The trial is over.


Footnotes

19 Michael Les Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1973): 7–16, 82–87 White, The Republic For Which It Stands: 55–56.

20 Stephen W. Stathis, Landmark Legislation: 1774–2012: Major U.S. Acts and Treaties, 2nd ed. (Los Angeles: CQ Press, 2014): 118–119 Hans L. Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: Andrew Johnson, the Blacks and Reconstruction (1975 repr., New York: Fordham University Press, 1999): 17–29 Foner, Reconstruction: 228–239 White, The Republic For Which It Stands: 60–61, 83–84.

21 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 49–50 Foner, Reconstruction: 333 C. Vann Woodward, “The Other Impeachment,” 11 August 1974, New York Times Magazine: 28.

22 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 53.

23 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 52.

24 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 54.

25 Congressional Globe, House, 39th Cong., 2nd sess. (17 December 1866): 154 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 54.

26 Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson: 22–23 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 54.

27 Congressional Globe, House, 39th Cong., 2nd sess. (7 January 1867): 319–320.

28 Congressional Globe, House, 39th Cong., 2nd sess. (7 January 1867): 320–321.

29 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 55, 58 Melvin I. Urofsky and Paul Finkelman, A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002): 458–459 Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson: 23 David O. Stewart, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009): 74–75 James M. McPherson, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (New York: Knopf, 1982): 526 J.G. Randall and David Herbert Donald, The Civil War and Reconstruction, 2d ed. (Lexington, KY: Heath, 1969): 601.

30 “An Act Regulating the Tenure of Certain Civil Offices,” 14 Stat. 430–432 Foner, Reconstruction: 333.

31 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 56–57 Randall and Donald, The Civil War and Reconstruction: 601 Stewart, Impeached: 81. For committee rosters in the 39th and 40th Congresses, see David T. Canon, Garrison Nelson, and Charles Stewart III, Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1789–1946, vol. 1 (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2001): 152.

32 Trefousse, Impeachment of a President: 70 Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson: 23 Stewart, Impeached: 83 Albert Castel, The Presidency of Andrew Johnson (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1979): 127.


How President Andrew Johnson was Nearly Impeached

President Andrew Johnson succeeded President Abraham Lincoln upon his death in 1865. Johnson was Lincoln’s Vice President. In 1868, Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives. The reason for impeachment was his “high crimes and misdemeanors,” primarily for violating the Tenure of Office Act Congress had passed the year before. He had removed his Secretary of War, Edwin McMasters Stanton and tried to replace him with Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas. Johnson was the first President to be successfully impeached, though he was later acquitted by the Senate.

Shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and Andrew Johnson became president, there had been high tensions between the executive branch and legislative branch. While Lincoln was in favor of a more moderate reconstruction after the Civil War, Johnson did not. The Radical Republicans had been very much against Lincoln, but he had been popular in the North, making it so the Radical Republicans were deprived of the political power they needed.

The Radical Republicans had hopes that Johnson would be able to pass their policies for Reconstruction that gave newly freed slaves protection and punished former slave owners and government and military officials. But Johnson unexpectedly turned around and rejected them. After only six weeks of office, Johnson was offering amnesty for many of the former confederates, abandoning his original stricter policies. He vetoed the legislation that would extend former slaves’ civil rights and financial support. A few of his vetoes were overridden by Congress, which made way for confrontation between Johnson and Congress.

On a speaking tour around the Northern United States in August and September of 1868, Johnson destroyed his own political support. This tour became known as the Swing Around the Circle. Intending to establish a coalition of voters in support of Johnson due to the upcoming midterm elections, it instead ruined his reputation. His undisciplined and malicious speeches along with confrontations with hecklers that did not go well was known all around the country. Johnson had hoped that with the midterm elections, the Congress would be ruled by a Republican majority. But instead, the Radical Republicans passed civil rights legislation and took control over the president on Reconstruction and turned the Confederacy into five military districts.

Congress was unable to take full control over the military’s Reconstruction policy because, as president, Johnson was in command of it. Lincoln’s Secretary of War, who was now also Johnson’s, Edwin M. Stanton, was a Radical Republican himself. Stanton would follow any Congressional Reconstruction policies for as long as he was office. Congress worried that Stanton would be replaced, so they passed the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. Even with Johnson’s veto, Congress was able to override him. The Tenure of Office Act made it so that before dismissing any Cabinet members, the President was to seek advice and consent from the Senate. The act was written with Stanton in mind specifically so Johnson could not dismiss him.

However, the act did give Johnson the right to suspend officials and Cabinet members when Congress was not in session. After Stanton refused to resign, Johnson suspended the Secretary of War on August 5, 1867. He appointed General Ulysses S. Grant, who was the Commanding General of the Army, as Secretary of War ad interim (which means “in the meantime” or “temporarily”). Johnson later on disagreed with Grant from an understanding they had. The President claimed that if the Senate failed to comply with his removing of Stanton, that Grant would remain in office or notify the Johnson before hand if he were to resign. Johnson planned on making a court case to test the Tenure Act’s constitutionality. Later, Grant disagreed that they had never made an agreement like this.

With a vote of 35-to-6, the Senate passed a resolution on January 7, 1868 that disagreed with Stanton’s removal. That same day, Grant vacated his office when he wrote his resignation letter, though he did not tell Johnson. Stanton took back his office. The following day, Grant, trying to give Johnson a reason for not pre-notifying him, gave the President stammering and unintelligible excuses. Johnson believed the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional, so until January 28, he ignored Stanton’s reinstatement. On the twenty-eighth of January, he offered brevet major general Lorenzo Thomas the position of Secretary of War. Originally, Thomas turned the offer down because he wanted to remain Adjutant General until he retired. Later on, he was able to convince Thomas to assist him in making a test case.

Lorenzo Thomas was appointed to the position of Secretary of War on February 21, 1868. Stanton was, at once, ordered to be removed from office. Thomas himself delivered the dismissal notice to Stanton. Stanton, however, refused to accept it and built a barricade around his office. He then ordered for Thomas’s arrest for violating the Tenure of Office Act. To tell the President he had been arrested, Thomas requested he be taken to the White House. But Stanton decided to drop the charges upon realizing that with Thomas’s arrest, the courts would then be permitted to review the law. Stanton claimed afterwards that Johnson, by removing a cabinet member without the Senate’s approval, was breaking the Tenure of Office Act. From there on, the problem escalated and became known around the country. Representative William D. Kelley, the following day, ordered that Andrew Johnson needed to be punished.

Only three days after Stanton’s dismissal, the House voted in favor of a resolution to impeach President Andrew Johnson on February 24, 1868 in a 126-to-47 vote. The reason for impeachment was high crimes and misdemeanors. Thaddeus Steven and John A. Bingham were the two sponsors of the resolution. Immediately, they were dispatched to tell the Senate that they had voted for impeachment. A week later, eleven articles of impeachment were adopted by the Senate against Johnson. You can read the full articles here. Among them, Johnson was accused of violating the Tenure of Office act and for conspiracy.

Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presided over the trial, which started in the Senate. Committees were organized for representation of the prosecution and defense. John A. Bingham, George S. Boutwell, Benjamin F. Butler, John A. Logan, Thaddeus Stevens, Thomas Williams, and James F. Wilson made up the impeachment committee. On the opposing side, Jeremiah S. Black (who resigned before the start of the trial), Benjamin R. Curtis, William M. Evarts, Alexander Morgan, Thomas A. R. Nelson, and Henry Stanbery were on the defense team. On March 13, 1868, the trial officially began.

It was ruled by Chief Justice Chase, a Radical Republican, that Johnson should be able to present evidence that by appointing Thomas to his cabinet, he had been intending to provide a test case to challenge the Tenure of Office Act’s constitutionality. Chase was overruled by a majority vote.

Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio attempted to add two Radical members to the senate before the start of the trial. He tried to gain Colorado’s admission as a state. Wade was unable to gain two-thirds majority vote to override the anticipated veto from Johnson. However, his attempts failed. Another attempt was made shortly before the verdict vote was scheduled to take place to admit senators from certain Reconstruction states so that there would be more reliable Radical members. This was another unsuccessful attempt.

Johnson’s defense committee requested forty days on the first day of the trial to collect and provide evidence and witness because the prosecution had been given more time to do so. Instead of forty days, they were only granted ten days. On March 23, the proceedings began. Because not all states were represented in the Senate, Senator Garrett Davis argued, the trial could not be held and should instead be adjourned. This motion was voted against.

Once the charges against President Johnson were made, Henry Stanberry asked for an additional forty days to gather evidence and to summon witnesses. His argument was that there was not nearly enough time to prepare johnson’s reply with only ten days. Meanwhile, John A. Logan argued that they should start the trial at once. He said that Stanberry was only stalling to give them more time. In a 41-to-12 vote, Stanberry’s request was turned down. The next day, the Senate voted for six more days to be granted to the defense to prepare evidence.

On March 30, the trial commenced yet again. With a three-hour long speech about historical impeachment trials that dated back to King John of England (who ruled from 1166-1216), Benjamin F. Butler opened for the prosecution. Butler continued speaking out against Johnson for days and how he violated the Tenure of Office Act. Further, he also argued that Johnson had issued Army officers direct orders without sending them through General Grant first. The defense argued that the president had not been in violation of the Tenure of Office Act because Stanton had not been reappointed as Secretary of War at the start of Lincoln’s second term. Therefor, Stanton had just been a leftover appointment from Lincoln’s 1860 cabinet and he was not protected by the Tenure of Office Act. Several witnesses were called into court by the prosecution up until they rested the case on April 9th.

Benjamin R. Curtis brought it to attention that the Senate had amended the Tenure of Office Act after the House had passed it, meaning that to resolve the differences, it had to be returned to a Senate-House conference committee. Curtis quoted the minutes of these meetings and revealed that no notes about it had been made by House members. Their main purpose had been to keep Stanton in office, while the Senate disagreed. The first witness of the defense, Lorenzo Thomas, was then called. Thomas did not prove the acceptable information in the defense’s cause. Butler attempted to his Thomas’s information to the advantage of the prosecution. General William T. Sherman, the next witness, testified that Johnson had offered to appoint him to succeed Stanton to ensure that the department was administered effectively. This testimony damaged the prosecution, as they had been expecting for Sherman to testify that Johnson had offered to appoint him to obstruct the operation of the government, along with the overthrow. Sherman affirmed that the only reason Johnson wanted him as Secretary of War was to not execute directions to the military that would contradict the will of Congress. The House ended up voting 126-to-47 in favor of Johnson’s impeachment.

Fifty-four members represented the, at the time, twenty-seven states, whose legislatures were able to elect Senators, in the Senate. Two-thirds vote was required to remove Johnson from office, so thirty-six. They voted three times in the Senate, each with 35 Senators that voted guilty and 19 not-guilty, meaning they were one vote shy of impeaching Johnson. Thus, President Johnson was acquitted.

Senators William Pitt Fessenden of Maine, Joseph S. Fowler of Tennessee, James W. Grimes of Iowa, John B. Henderson of Missouri, Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, and Peter G. Van Winkle of West Virginia were all concerned that the proceedings had been manipulated so there was a one-sided presentation of evidence. These Republican Senators defied their party and voted not-guilty. Before they had taken the first vote, senior senator from Kansas Samuel Pomeroy told the junior senator from Kansas Edmund Ross that if he voted for acquittal, Ross would be subject, due to bribery, of investigation.

On May 16, 1868, the first vote was taken in the Senate for the eleventh articles with a result of 35-to-19. The Senate had adjourned for ten days to take another vote on May 26 on the other articles in hopes of manipulating the seven Republican senators who had voted for acquittal. Meanwhile, the House made a resolution to investigate the “improper or corrupt means used to influence the determination of the Senate”, a resolution that Butler had led. Even with all the pressure, the seven Republicans did not change their acquitting votes. On May 26, the trial results were the same, 35-to-19. Butler conducted hearings on the widespread results that these Republican senators had voted for johnson’s acquittal due to bribery. throughout Butler’s and others’ hearings, there was more and more evidence that some of these seven acquittal votes had been from promises of patronage jobs and cash cards. The investigations never ended in any charges against anyone.

There is evidence, however, that the prosecution had made attempts to bribe these seven senators to switch their votes to conviction. Senator Fessenden from Maine was offered Ministership to Great Britain, but he kept his vote. It was then discovered that Senator Pomeroy from Kansas had written a letter seeking $40,000 as a bribe from Johnson’s Postmaster General for Pomeroy’s acquittal vote along with a few others. Pomeroy, in the end, voted for conviction. Benjamin Wade told Benjamin Butler that he would appoint him as Secretary of State when Wade was to become President if Johnson was convicted.

After their terms ended, none of the Republican senators that had voted for acquittal ever held political elective office again. They had been under immense pressure to change their votes during the trial, but not one of them changed their votes in the three trials held.


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This is a really good study on the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. This is non fiction and not high literature. It is not meant to be. It does remind me of many academic works I have read during my career in law enforcement, including legal summaries. I sought out this particular rendition as the author is an very important United States Senator, who seemingly sacrificed his political career in voting to acquit Andrew Johnson. Although excellent, it is not an easy reading experience. I found this book free on Amazon Kindle and I am very grateful to have obtained it.

I knew that there had been an impeachment proceeding on Andrew Johnson, and had heard that the entire matter was dubious, but I have never fully studied the matter. I had always meant to do so but had not gotten around to it. I suppose for obvious reasons, I am now very interested.

I had always known that President Kennedy had composed a book in the 1950s named "Profiles in Courage". I had always meant to read that and knew that it included a story about a United States Senator who had sacrificed himself to acquit President Johnson. I am now reading that book by President Kennedy and it is also excellent. As is normal for me I am doing parallel reading. The United States Senator named in President Kennedy's book is the author of this work Edmund G. Ross.

I have found it to be a fascinating exercise to read President Kennedy's account of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, including his account and perceptions of Senator Ross and other individuals, and now having read Senator Ross's academic version of the event. I have found this to be a valuable asset for the purposes of studying subsequent episodes in our country's history.

In summary I am very glad to have had an opportunity to read this work which was free on Kindle. It is not a light read. I have read some reviews wherein reviewers did not wish to finish this work. I respect that and understand why. It is much more like school work than entertainment. President Kennedy's book is an easier reading experience, and is not exclusively about the impeachment. However I want to have a full picture of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in order to compare and contrast that period with current events. I have found this work to be an excellent supplement to President Kennedy's book In that context. Thank You.


Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

Hosted by Michael Barbaro produced by Lisa Chow, Austin Mitchell, Adizah Eghan, Annie Brown and Theo Balcomb, with help from Alexandra Leigh Young and edited by Lisa Tobin and M.J. Davis Lin

In a divided House, moderate Democrats are bearing the burden of answering for the impeachment vote.

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”

Today: The United States House of Representatives has impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. My colleague Lisa Chow and I on the story of how a fractious Democratic Party, which started the year divided on impeachment, ultimately united around it.

And how far away from Holly?

O.K. So yeah, we will get there in time. You want to describe what you’re seeing outside the window?

So we’re driving by a strip mall about 45 minutes outside Detroit. There’s a Best Buy, a Michaels, a PetSmart, a Lowes, Chipotle and a DSW. This is a solid, solid, solid strip mall.

So Michael, why are we driving through the strip malls of Detroit?

So we are headed to the home of Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.

Elissa Slotkin has a lead of more than 2,000 votes against Republican incumbent Mike Bishop.

She is a moderate Democrat who won her seat —

archived recording (elissa slotkin)

I won in a district that was a Republican district. So the only way —

She flipped a red district and turned it blue in 2018. And in doing so, she helped the Democrats win back the House.

The blue wave. The blue wave that swept Democrats into power in the House.

But the moment she gets into office —

archived recording (rashida tlaib)

Because we’re going to go in there, we’re going to impeach the motherfucker. [CHEERS]

— people like Rashida Tlaib, the congresswoman who represents a district just to the south here that we just drove through, they’re saying that the findings of the Russia inquiry merit impeachment. And Slotkin is not having any of it.

Important quote. This is from Congresswoman Slotkin of Michigan. Impeachment is not what people are coming up to me in the grocery store and talking to me about. They want to know —

She is skeptical of that, she’s opposed to it. It’s not part of her political brand to want to impeach the president. And then all of a sudden, the whistle-blower report comes out, and she reads it, and she’s very troubled. And she and a handful of her moderate swing-district Democratic House colleagues write an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for an impeachment inquiry.

They write, we have devoted our lives to the service and security of our country. Now we join as a unified group to uphold —

And their voice carries a tremendous amount of weight, because they are moderates, because they helped win back the House for Democrats. And shortly afterwards, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opens an impeachment inquiry.

archived recording (nancy pelosi)

I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.

And right away, it’s clear that there are political consequences for Slotkin.

I am going to wait for the facts. I’m going to look at them judiciously. I’m going to do what I was trained to do, which is to look at the —

We went to three town halls in her district and just listened as constituents pelted her with questions about why she was doing this.

Two months go by. The impeachment inquiry unfolds. Hearings happen, a report is filed. And now she has to make a decision — is she going to vote to impeach the president, or is she going to vote not to the impeach the president?

Whoa, we’re going into her driveway.

We’re doing it. I think it’s O.K. I mean, we’re a little early. What’re you gonna do? We are arriving at Slotkin’s house in the middle of these final hours of deliberation for her on impeachment. She has told her constituents that she’s going to announce her decision on Monday morning. We are talking to her on Sunday night.

I feel good. I mean, I feel dehydrated. Did you actually eat your granola bar?

I did not eat my granola bar. Hard to eat and hold a microphone.

You’re going to regret it when you’re in the middle of this interview and you’re starving.

Congresswoman, so nice to see you.

Thank you for letting us — Lisa.

This is a truly a farmhouse.

Oh yeah, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I think of you guys as audio, and so I’m not doing a very nice job, but this is 1895 farmhouse. My family bought it in the ‘50s. We held off lighting a fire because we didn’t know if the noise would be annoying, but we can definitely light a fire.

And this — I should just say, this desk, for whatever it’s worth, is sort of one of the big heirlooms in my family. This was my great-grandfather’s desk. And if you see on the plate here —

It is kind of a resolute desk.

Yes. So it was used by Lindley Garrison, secretary of war, 1913 to 1916.

During the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.

So that was a gift to my great-grandfather, Sam Slotkin. And it’s been passed down.

Is this where you go to make big decisions?

This is where I make my big decisions.

Is this that — this three-ring binder looks like it’s the House Intelligence report?

Yes. This is — well, it’s a lot, I guess, more than it. It is — let’s see. My team has diligently tabbed it out for me. So this is the impeachment documents that came down, I guess, what now, three weeks ago —

From the Judiciary Committee.

Yes, from the Judiciary Committee. This is the HPSCI report, the House Intelligence report.

Clinton articles of impeachment. Nixon articles of impeachment. And I see you’ve done a bunch of underlining.

Yeah. For me, this is, frankly, a very standard way that I look at things, which just comes from my training as a C.I.A. officer, which is sequester yourself away, get all the original base documents. And then you do some historical research and then make an objective decision not based on what you see in the news or what someone’s telling you.

Thanks for letting us interrupt it.

Where would you guys like to set up? Would you like to be —

Where would you like us to set up?

All right, we’ll go set ourselves up.

O.K., check, check, check, check.

How am I sounding? O.K. So, Congresswoman, thank you for letting us into your home —

— during a really important moment for you.

The last time we talked to you, you had just made a decision to support an impeachment inquiry, which ended up being a very consequential decision.

Tell me what the last couple of months have been like for you as that inquiry has unfolded. What’s that experience been like?

Well, I would say it’s probably been some of the most intense months I’ve had as a working professional, that’s for sure. The principal reason why I decided to come out back in September in support of an inquiry, after many, many months of not supporting impeachment or an inquiry, was this very basic idea that the president of the United States reached out to a foreign party and solicited help in influencing an American election. And confirming or denying that very basic idea was pretty important to me in this process.

That fact pattern. And you know, I was in national security for a long time. We are in the business of pressuring governments to do things that we want, right? That happens all the time. And anyone who gets to a senior-enough level has been in that position. The difference here was that the president was doing it for his own personal political gain, not for the national security interests of the United States. So for me, the central idea was whether the president asked for foreigners to get involved in the American political process.

So did the inquiry and did the hearings establish that?

Well, that’s what I’ve been trying to parse through. What became clearer and clearer through what I read and what the reporting produced was that you have a lot of people who were aware that, for instance, security assistance was held up in exchange for something. And we have Ambassador Sondland saying very directly that it was held up because they were waiting for the Ukrainians to live up to their end of the bargain.

To conduct these investigations on —

Yes, to announce investigations. That’s the hardest thing for me about my peers who may decide not to vote on these articles, is that do they accept that it’s O.K. to invite foreign help into the American political process?

I think I just watched Lindsey Graham say that he’s O.K. with it in an interview.

Well, I’m sorry, and I think that history will show them to be misguided. And maybe it’s because I was a C.I.A. officer, but I am comfortable making hard decisions that aren’t popular, because I know that they’re the right thing for the security of the country. I was asked to do that over and over and over again in my prior life. And that’s the same approach I take to these decisions.

I hear you hinting that a hard decision that you’re capable of making may be heading in one direction.

Well, listen, I mean, no offense, but I’m not going to tell The New York Times before I tell my own constituents. It’s why we’re having a big town hall tomorrow. My hope and my responsibility is to be transparent with the constituents of the Eighth District, to be available to listen to their current concerns and answer them, and to be honest with them.

So understanding that you’re not going to be disclosing your intentions just now at this table in your house, I want to talk about your constituents for just a moment.

Based on my understanding of your district, which voted for Trump by a healthy margin, and according to you, does not seem to support impeachment as a whole, you could find yourself very much at odds with your own constituents.

Are you comfortable with that?

This is what it means to be an elected leader. You have to make tough calls. And in a district like this, I’m never going to make everyone happy. If I lose my seat because I stood up for my principles, that’s O.K. I, of course, want to be re-elected, and I want to maintain the House majority. I think it’s an important check and balance. But I’m not going to compromise my principles just to keep that job. I’m just not. And I hope that people want that kind of an elected representative.

I do have to ask you the kind of political version of this question, which is mathematically, your vote isn’t required to impeach the president. And so there’re kind of two ways to look at this. On the one hand, if you vote yes, that would be very politically risky. The other way to look at this is that if you vote no, that’s its own set of risks, because as a moderate, you would be sending a message that the people in the middle who started all this, who said there should be an inquiry, don’t think there’s enough there to actually impeach. And that would be a very complicated message to send in 2020 when the president’s running for re-election. It’s essentially that impeachment was a project of the far left. And so there’s basically a ton of risk no matter what you do, and I wonder how you weigh those risks.

Well, I mean, listen, voting on articles of impeachment is right up there with Congress’s role in declaring war. I mean, it’s got to be one of the top two things that a member of Congress will ever vote on in their career — most important things. So when you have a vote like that, it’s beyond that political calculus. I think it should be. It certainly is for me. And I’ve certainly had people propose to me, you know, just vote no, save your seat.

Your vote isn’t needed, anyway.

I’ve had people say that to me.

I have to look at myself in the mirror. Like, I have to come away from this experience with a sense that I haven’t done what so many people here in Michigan think of elected officials. I cannot just become that cynical political person who just orients their major decisions around what would save their seat. I just —

You know, we have the president admitting that he reached out to a foreigner to ask for help in an American political election. If you think about that outside the normal insanity that we have right now on TV and all the events that are happening, if you think about that, which I’ve been trying to do today here quietly at my farm, that is — that is wrong. And I think that sending a signal in the most clear terms we can is important enough even to risk the majority.

So it’s 7:30 on Sunday night and you’re planning to make an announcement tomorrow morning in front of your constituents. How are you doing inside? How are you feeling?

I actually feel pretty clear. I’ve done the work. I’ve kept an open mind, and I’ve sat with the documents, I’ve sat with the transcripts, and I’ve made my best assessment. So I’m going to try and be as present and available as I can. I trust my voters, I do. And I think —

I trust them as Michiganders to give me a chance to explain. And for them to give me the benefit of the doubt.

I wish you the best of luck tomorrow.

Thank you. Thanks very much.

Hey, hey, ho, ho, Elissa Slotkin has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho — got to go! Hey hey, ho ho.

So Lisa, I headed back to New York to host the show. You stayed in Michigan. So what happens the next day, after we had talked to Elissa Slotkin?

So the next day, I arrive very early, and already there are people there.

Ho ho, Elissa Slotkin has got to go!

And they’re upset, they’re pissed. And that’s because Slotkin had already announced her decision in the local paper that morning.

Of course, we had both understood from the interview where this was going.

Yes, but she hadn’t yet told her constituents. And so in this op-ed, she says very clearly that she is voting yes on both articles of impeachment.

Country over party! Impeach and remove Trump!

So people are lining up to get inside the auditorium where the town hall meeting will be held. And outside, there was a bunch of protesters with big signs saying, “Impeach Slotkin, keep Trump,” in bright red letters. And some of them are carrying much smaller signs that say, “We have your back.”

Which is a message to Slotkin.

I mean, very quickly, people start yelling at each other.

Because I have to talk over your people. Do you like Russia? Do you like Russia? Because I’m a veteran, and I do not support Russia!

The fact is you walked up to me and you asked me about Ukraine, which is a Russian —

The one exchange that I found particularly memorable was this veteran —

You’re standing here as an American, as an American, talking —

The pro-Slotkin person who got very emotional. And she basically said, you’re spouting Russian talking points to me, to say that Ukraine interfered in our election.

Our flag is red, white and blue, not red and blue. It is red, white, and blue. Put your country first for once, O.K.?

I am. Would you like to discuss? See?

And so people are really challenging each other’s patriotism.

What, what? Ukraine did what? What did Ukraine do? Tell me what Ukraine did.

Are you gonna listen? Biden bragged about — about bribing Ukraine with a billion dollars. Do you want to hear it?

They’re just looking at the facts in a totally different way.

What crime? Name one. Name one crime. You jumped in, I’m listening. Name one crime.

That’s not — O.K., that — name what exactly did he do to abuse — to abuse power?

Having a foreign country meddle in the election. That’s one.

He didn’t! The Democrats did!

You really are insane, aren’t you? Open your eyes.

Finally, we head into the auditorium, and it’s a large room.

People are registering, and then walking into the auditorium.

418. So we set up for about 400 people.

There are tons of media, national and local press covering this event.

Can you tell me where you’re from?

The Flint Journal and mlive.com.

And it’s clear that this is the story, which is moderate Democrats and their vulnerability in this vote that they’re taking.

Let’s please welcome to the stage Congresswoman Slotkin.

She’s introduced by one of her staffers, and she takes the stage.

Immediately, the crowd erupts in both cheers and boos.

All right, everybody. Thank you.

O.K., well, I’m thrilled to see such a great turnout today.

Let’s please — please let her speak.

And she basically can’t get a word in.

Let’s please respect the people around you who are here to listen.

There is a very loud group in the corner of the room that is making it almost impossible for her to be heard by the rest of the room.

So in an attempt to be transparent, I’m going to walk you through my logic. And I know it’s clear that we don’t all agree. I thought we needed to let the election of 2020 decide what was going to happen in our country. But those changed — that changed for me on the very basic facts that the president of the United States came out — and his lawyer came out and said, very specifically —

And they’re screaming all sorts of things, like —

And that is very different than how presidents typically build their power, right? To be honest with you, I worked at the National Security Council under George Bush. I worked under the National Security Council under Barack Obama. And presidents regularly wield their power.

So the Michiganders don’t quite give her the chance to explain herself that she told us she’d been hoping for.

They regularly leverage their position to influence other countries. That’s a normal part of what a president does. But what was fundamentally different for me is that the president —

And there’s one guy in particular in the back —

The Democrats are run by “the squad“!

The Democrats are run by the squad!

Democrats are the party of the squad!

The squad runs the Democrats.

Right, the four best-known House freshmen liberals.

Exactly. And at one point, he even gets up and yells —

You belong to Rashida. And what’s so fascinating about this moment is that when we started reporting at the beginning of this year on the freshman class of Democrats, it was exactly that conflation that people like Elissa Slotkin were trying to avoid.

Because they knew the Republicans would try to lump all the Democrats together as Trump-hating left-wing progressives.

Right. They would try to make a Slotkin and a Tlaib indistinguishable, even though they’re very different.

Exactly. And Slotkin has been so cautious in this process. She’s been thorough. She has had careful reasoning. But none of that matters in this moment. She is Rashida Tlaib, according to those protesters.

Do you stand for your party or do you stand for your Constitution?

Let her say that. Let her say that. That she is not a part of the squad!

No, she should did not! She has to say! Let her say that! Let her say that!

I think that’s exactly what gets under Slotkin’s skin — this feeling of not being understood in the way that she understands herself. That no matter what she says, no matter what she believes, a significant number of her constituents are just going to see her as this kind of caricature of a Democrat. And they’re never going to agree with her, and she’s not going to be able to get through to them. You could tell from her voice that maybe, you know, she expected this. Maybe this scene didn’t surprise her. But it’s still hard.

All right, everyone. Thank you very much for coming out today. Please leave safely.

Thank you. Thank you for listening. Appreciate it. Thank you for being good citizens.

So the auditorium is cleared out. Now that’s over. And I guess next, we’re headed to Washington to cover the actual vote.

Did you bring water? Or did I just, like — idiotically, I left my water on the other side of the Capitol. It’s O.K. It’s OK. It’s OK.

O.K. So Michael, where are we right now?

So we’re in the U.S. Capitol, standing just outside the House chamber. You can kind of see it through these double doors. And inside that chamber —

There’s about six more hours of debate happening. A lot of it very predictable. Democrats are saying —

That after great care and lots of prayer —

Today, sadly, we are voting to impeach President Donald John Trump.

They’re taking a principled vote to impeach the president. Republicans are saying —

— Democrats have made something out of absolutely nothing, and that this is a sham.

They think Hillary Clinton should be president, and they want to fix that.

And I’m kind of imagining Elissa Slotkin in there preparing for a monumental vote that a lot of people in her district have just said they don’t want her to take. But there’s actually somebody else and I have been thinking about.

And that’s Rashida Tlaib. Because she has been talking about impeachment from the beginning.

Yeah. Today is something that I’ve been talking to my 14-year-old about, Adam. He’s so funny. Before he went to school, I had a conversation with him.

Oh, just, you know, told you mommy is going to follow through on making sure the bully is not going to remain using the most powerful position in the world to his personal gain and personal profit. I want him to still believe that people have the power, and that the truth always prevails. And so I feel like this gets us closer to that.

So a lot of the focus in this impeachment vote has been on the moderates who are putting themselves at political risk in taking this vote. I’m mindful that it was in January of this year that you came into office and pretty much immediately generated a little bit of news by calling for the impeachment of the president, long before Speaker Pelosi and many of the moderate Democrats were ready to take that action. I think I was actually here with you in the Capitol when that happened. And we had talked at that point about the fear that you and other progressive freshmen in the House might push the party to left in a way that could jeopardize those moderate colleagues. And now here we are, right? So I wonder what you make of that journey of the whole House Democratic delegation?

You know, I don’t like it when people say we’re moving folks to the left or moving folks to the right. We’re moving folks towards the truth. To me, that’s nonpartisan. The fact of the matter is something was wrong here. Children were being caged at the border. He was profiting off of being a sitting C.E.O. in the White House. There was a number of impeachable offenses before I even got here, and these are things that I was hearing from my residents all the time.

But that’s not what today is about.

Oh, of course not. You know, one of the things I said after this happened, after, you know, the Ukraine call happened, is that that’s what got us to 218. I mean, look, I am not a person that pushed this opinion of what was happening from the White House onto my colleagues. That was not my intention. My intention was to serve the residents of the Thirteenth District. They elected me out of a number of candidates, saying that this is also about electing the jury that will hold this president accountable. And that’s exactly what I did from day one. For many of my colleagues, they didn’t run on this issue, right? But, I mean, the time has found us, as Speaker Pelosi kept saying. And it’s very true, I think many were very hesitant, but the Ukraine call took them over the edge, for many of these folks.

Well, let me talk about one of these districts, because earlier this week, Lisa and I went to Michigan, your state. We drove through your district on the way to the district of one of your colleagues, Elissa Slotkin, who flipped her seat from Republican to Democrat. And the threat to her seat and the anger of constituents who now know she’s going to be voting for impeachment, it was really apparent right away. There was a lot of fury directed at her.

Yeah, I mean, I think, Michael, it’s really important for folks to know Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s district is so different from mine.

And she has to represent her district. I think for my residents and I, there’s a sense of liberation. They’ve been calling with excitement of finally some sense of accountability. I think when we see injustices, we see things that just don’t make any sense, we feel like it’s hurting the country, hurting people, that people are actually in true, real emotional pain from things around the racist abuse of power to even threats to our national security. It creates so much anxiety around the country. And for folks, they just want to feel like somebody is fighting for them. That somebody here has their back.

This feels like a moment of that for them?

Yes. I think they want people to speak up. It’s like, why aren’t they saying anything? Why aren’t people doing anything about it? Isn’t that illegal? Shouldn’t those folks be in jail? You know, these are the kinds of things I hear from my residents all the time. So for today, it is very much an incredible moment that they finally feel a sense that they are believed. And so yeah, that’s the one thing. I respect that she has a different district than mine. I don’t impose my opinion onto her district, and I think she doesn’t do the same to mine.

Let me create a picture for you and I want to know what you think of it. The House flips, Democrats lose it, the president is impeached, but just in the House, not in the Senate. Is it worth it? Is it worth it?

Yes! Why isn’t it worth it? It is protecting our future. Do you know — if we always decided to function from political strategy, we wouldn’t get things done. Would the Affordable Care Act pass? It wasn’t perfect, but you know what? We actually saved lives. And some people couldn’t come back because they voted for that. But if we were to go back, do we want to do it all over again? Yeah, we would. We would, to save people’s lives. And for us, this is about saving our democracy. And sometimes that means putting our neck out. And yes, they’re going to use this against us and try to vilify what we tried to do, which is put our country first.

Isn’t that easier to say when you’re from a —

But don’t think my life hasn’t been threatened. Don’t think that the first actual coffee hour I had, I didn’t have the same protesters that Elissa Slotkin had that said, impeach Rashida Tlaib. I have three people now getting prosecuted for threatening my life. You know, I feel like, in many ways, my life has completely been transformed because I will not stand down. I will not allow this corrupt president to abuse his power, nor put people in the pain that they are going through right now, because he decided to obstruct Congress. That he decided that he doesn’t really care about the process, and the rules, and the laws. You don’t take over the United States of America. You get elected, and you serve it. And so we’re going to served the United States of America today by holding this president accountable and setting a very clear message that we won’t allow this danger precedent in our history to continue. Because it could be a Democrat or a Republican down the line that would do the same and get away with it. And that, to me, is what is at stake more than being in the majority or winning an election.

I know you have to go. I want to thank you for spending the last year with us.

Yes, of course. Thank you so much. It’s been an incredible journey.

And letting us tell your story.

Thank you. Thank you, Michael. I’m speaking on the floor, so —

Good luck with your speech.

archived recording (jerry nadler)

Madame Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentlelady from Michigan, Miss Tlaib.

archived recording (diana degette)

The gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

archived recording (rashida tlaib)

Thank you. I rise today in support of impeachment.

I learned so much every single day from my residents at home. Their common sense and understanding of what is right and wrong is centered on why they oppose any person using the most powerful position in the world for personal gain. Doing nothing here, Madame Speaker, is not an option. Looking away from these crimes against our country is not an option. This is about protecting the future of our nation and our democracy from corruption, abuse of power, criminal cover-ups and bribery. And this, Madame Speaker, this vote is also for my sons and the future of so many generations. So I urge my colleagues to please vote yes on these articles of impeachment. With that, Madame Speaker, I yield.

archived recording (diana degette)

archived recording (doug collins)

Shortly after 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night, the House voted on the first article of impeachment against President Trump — abuse of power.

archived recording (nancy pelosi)

On this vote, the yeas are 230, the nays are 197. Present is one. Article 1 is adopted.

Soon after, a vote was held on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress.

archived recording (nancy pelosi)

On this vote, the yeas are 229, the nays are 198. Present is one. Article 2 is adopted.

With that, Donald J. Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

archived recording (donald trump)

With today’s illegal, unconstitutional and partisan impeachment —

archived recording (donald trump)

— the do-nothing Democrats, and they are do-nothing, all they want to do is focus on this. What they could be doing are declaring their deep hatred and disdain for the American voter.

During a rally in Michigan as the House voted, President Trump described the impeachment vote as an attack on his supporters and predicted that it would backfire on Democrats at the polls.

archived recording (donald trump)

This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat party. Have you seen my polls in the last four weeks?

archived recording (donald trump)

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.

Instead, the debate over Mr. Trump seemed more like a scripted program with everyone playing their assigned parts, each side sticking to its talking points, speaking not to the half-empty galleries but to the country at large. Words and phrases like “no one is above the law” (used in some form or another 60 times) and “sad day” and “sham” (29 times each) were among the favorites. Only when the votes neared in the evening did the chamber fill and the energy level rise.

But at points, the lawmakers touched on the larger ramifications, reflecting the broader forces at play. For the Democrats, there was a sense of mission, of reining in an outlaw president who threatened the pillars of the republic. For the Republicans, a party once wary of Mr. Trump but now in full embrace, it was about stopping what they insisted was an illegitimate, unconstitutional attempt to reverse an election victory.

“I don’t want generations to come to blame me for letting democracy die,” said Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana.

“Please stop tearing this country apart,” implored Representative Debbie Lesko, Republican of Arizona.

The country, of course, was being torn apart long before the clerk called the roll, just as it was in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton eras, but the divisions were surely widened by the time the gavel came down.