The Atlantic

How Does Impeachment Work?

The framers all agreed that the power to remove the executive would have to be lodged somewhere.
Source: Khue Bui / AP

The Constitution has a failsafe. When the framers decided to create a powerful chief executive with a fixed term of office, it was immediately evident that a remedy was needed in case something went terribly wrong. As Virginia delegate George Mason observed early in the deliberations in Philadelphia, “some mode of displacing an unfit magistrate is rendered indispensable by the fallibility of those who choose, as well as by the corruptibility of the man chosen.” The framers all agreed that the power to remove the executive would have to be lodged somewhere. They had more difficulty agreeing on who should control the removal power and on what basis it should be exercised.

There were essentially two options on the table. The president might be removable by either the state governments or by Congress. There

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