Efforts to impeach Ronald Reagan

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During his eight years in office (1981 - 1989), there were efforts to impeach U. S. president Ronald Reagan, but none of those efforts got so far as a vote by the lower house of Congress.[1]

In 1983, Congressional Representative Henry B. Gonzalez was joined by Ted Weiss, John Conyers Jr., George Crockett Jr., Julian C. Dixon, Mervyn M. Dymally, Gus Savage and Parren J. Mitchell in proposing "A resolution impeaching Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, of the high crime or misdemeanor of ordering the invasion of Grenada in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and other high crime or misdemeanor ancillary thereto."[2]

Gonzalez initiated a second impeachment attempt following the revelation that Reagan had authorized trading arms for hostages in the Iran-Contra scandal.[2][3][4]

During testimony at the trial of Reagan aide Oliver North, Edwin Meese (Attorney General during Reagan's second term) acknowledged that officials in the Reagan administration had been worried that the 1987 impeachment could result in Reagan having to leave the office of President.[5]

In his book The Federal Impeachment Process, Michael J. Gerhardt discusses the high barrier impeachment efforts face in the Senate, and the alternate methods a Senator can use to impede a President they oppose.[6] He asserted that while the House motion to start the process to impeach Reagan failed, it helped weaken him, and played a part in the failure to confirm Reagan's appointment of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.


  1. Frank James. Impeach Obama! (And FDR, Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan, Etc.), National Public Radio, 2013-08-27. “Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, especially, all inspired more or less serious calls for their impeachment.” mirror
  2. 2.0 2.1 John Nichols. The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism, The New Press. mirror
  3. Texan Acts for Impeachment, The New York Times, 1987-03-06, p. 18. mirror
  4. Doyle McManus. Reagan Impeachment Held Possible: It's Likely if He Knew of Profits Diversion, Hamilton Says, Los Angeles Times, 1987-06-15. mirror
  5. David Johnston. Meese Testifies That Impeachment Was a Worry, The New York Times, 1989-03-29, p. 17. mirror
  6. Michael J. Gerhardt (2000). The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226554839. Retrieved on 2022-12-19. “The grumblings among Democrats about possibly trying to impeach President Reagan after some of the early revelations about the Iran-Contra affair quickly turned into awareness of his weakened position and helped to fuel the partisanship that plays a part in the Senate's rejection of Robert Bork's nomination to replace Justice Lewis Powell on the Supreme Court and Judge Douglas Ginsburg's forced withdrawal from his nomination to take the same seat.”