Sordid sex scandals, ‘smoking guns’ and QAnon riots: Inside infamous US scandals

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The new year started with unprecedented scenes in Washington.

As lawmakers met to count electoral votes to confirm Joe Biden's victory following the presidential election that took place in November last year, Pro-Donald Trump supporters forced their way into the US Capitol building.

The riots, which took place on Wednesday, January 6, turned ugly, with violent scenes breaking out as protesters clashed with the police.

Five people died during the events and a number of police officers were also injured.

The horrifying scenes led to outgoing US president Donald Trump becoming the first in history to be impeached twice while in office – most recently over claims he incited last week's Capitol riots.

He was also impeached in December 2019 on charges accusing him of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.

Trump's impeachment came after a formal House inquiry alleged that he had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 US presidential election to help his re-election bid, and then obstructed the inquiry itself by telling his administration officials to ignore subpoenas for documents and testimony.

The Senate acquitted Trump of these charges on February 5, 2020.

But although he is now the only President to be impeached twice, Trump is far from the only President to be impeached.

Here, the Daily Star looks at all of the others.

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Can you name the first?

It would probably a good pub quiz question, but you can be forgiven for never having heard of the first US President to be impeached.

On March 2–3, 1868 Andrew Johnson took just that title as he was accused of breaking the rules when he tried to sack his Secretary of War. He was acquitted by the Senate.

The impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson had important political implications for the balance of federal legislative-executive power.

It maintained the principle that Congress should not remove the president from office simply because its members disagreed with him over policy, style, and administration of the office.

It also resulted in diminished presidential influence on public policy and overall governing power.

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Watergate – the impeachment that wasn't

Richard Nixon, the only President to step down mid-term, was never formally impeached.

Nixon would have likely been impeached in 1974 after the Watergate scandal – the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the Nixon administration’s attempts to cover up its involvement – had he not become the first President to resign.

Charges were drawn up after Nixon tried have Attorney General Archibold Cox fired, and then fired the two top officials in the Justice Department for refusing to remove him.

The fight over evidence of what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre” resulted in hours of taped conversations recorded in Nixon’s Oval Office being released – including the 'smoking gun' tape that famously lost Nixon what little support he had among everyday Americans.

Under pressure from Republicans, Nixon resigned on 9 August 1974.

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The sex scandal with a White House intern

It would actually be, then, more than a century before the next impeachment when Bill Clinton was accused of lying under oath and obstruction of justice which stemmed back to the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

His affair with Lewinsky, who at the time was a 22-year-old on work experience, came at a great moment of stress in his life, Clinton later said.

Speaking on History Channel documentary The Clinton Affair, Lewinsky insisted they never got up to anything in the Oval Office, but said the adjoining rooms were fair game.

However, it wasn't all sexual, with Monica stating they would also have conversations and 'connect'.

Like Johnson, he too was acquitted by the Senate.

He was charged with perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice after he denied having sex with Lewinsky.

After a five-week trial, he was acquitted on both counts in February 1999.

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Capitol invasion

Among the mass of banners and flags held by the mob who laid siege to the US Capitol last night was one repeated letter – Q.

As well as being devotees of the President, many of the rioters were followers of QAnon – a bizarre conspiracy theory which claims Trump has been sent to the world from a satanic child abuse cult operating at the heart of government.

Over the years, with the false theory spreading like wildfire online, Trump has refused to disavow it – either claiming he didn't know anything about it or saying they were "very much against paedophilia", and that he agreed with that.

Some storming the Capitol believed the event was the culmination of the "Great Awakening" – where those involved in the alleged paedophile ring, including top officials and congresspeople, would be arrested and removed from office.

Asked during a TV Q&A during the election campaign if he knew whether there was a satanic paedophile cult operating in Washington, President Trump said: "I don't know that. And neither do you."

But the scenes led to Donald Trump being impeached for a second time, for inciting insurrection.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump by 232 to 197.

The vote went largely along party lines – but ten Republican Congressmen broke ranks, voting to condemn the leader of their own party.

The articles of impeachment presented to the House included just one charge: “incitement of insurrection.”

The Senate is scheduled to return next Tuesday – and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ruled out recalling the upper chamber early in order to hold a Senate impeachment trial before Joe Biden's inauguration next Wednesday.

  • Donald Trump
  • US Election

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