Before Trump indictments, a timeline of past presidential scandals | Donald Trump News


Donald Trump’s legal troubles continue to mount, as the former United States president faces a criminal indictment in the state of Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election that he lost.

Earlier this year, Trump became the first former president in US history to face criminal charges after he was indicted in New York.

He also faces federal charges in Washington, DC and in Florida over 2020 election interference accusations and allegations that he mishandled secret government documents, respectively.

But other past US presidents were not without their own political scandals, and some even came close to facing criminal charges.

Here is a look at some of the scandals that plagued previous US presidents:

Andrew Johnson, impeached

Johnson was the first US president ever impeached by the House of Representatives.

“He was impeached in 1868 for dismissing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton without the approval of the Senate as required … and for attacking congressional policies on the Reconstruction in the South” after the US Civil War, according to the Library of Congress.

Johnson had vetoed legislation “to protect the rights of those who had been freed from slavery”.

Former US President Andrew Johnson
A portrait of US President Andrew Johnson, who served from 1865-1869 [Library of Congress/Handout via Reuters]

Ulysses S Grant, speeding

Grant was the first-ever sitting US president to be arrested, according to US media reports.

In 1872, Grant was pulled over for speeding in a horse-drawn carriage in Washington, DC and issued a warning. The next day, he was caught speeding again and arrested.

Grant was let out on bail and continued serving as president.

President Ulysses Grant
A portrait of Ulysses S Grant [File: Mathew Brady/AP Photo]

Warren Harding, Teapot Dome

The Teapot Dome scandal of the mid-1920s involved the secret leasing of federal oil reserves at Elk Hills in California and Teapot Dome, Wyoming, to oil tycoons by Harding’s interior secretary.

While Harding was not personally involved in the affair, he faced criticism for failing to expose corruption.

Some historians have referred to Harding as the least capable president.

President Warren G Harding
An undated portrait of former US President Warren Harding [File: AP Photo]

Richard Nixon, Watergate

Watergate was one of the biggest political scandals in US history.

The scandal began with a botched 1972 burglary at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC’s) office in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. It drew little immediate attention, but ended two years later with the first and only resignation of a president.

The tale began with G Gordon Liddy, a former FBI agent who worked for Nixon’s re-election campaign. Liddy got $250,000 to implement a plan of dirty tricks and espionage that included late-night forays to install telephone bugs at the DNC office and scour the party’s files for useful information.

Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein later reported on the president’s connection to the events.

Nixon stepped down in 1974, and his successor, President Gerald Ford, gave him a full pardon for any crimes committed.

Richard Nixon
Nixon sits in his White House office on August 16, 1973, after delivering a nationwide television address dealing with Watergate [File: AP Photo]

Ronald Reagan, Iran-Contra

The Iran-Contra affair was one of the biggest political scandals during the Cold War and threatened to bring down Reagan’s presidency.

In 1985, Reagan authorised a secret plan to sell antitank and antiaircraft missiles to Iran in exchange for releasing Americans who had been abducted by Iranian-backed armed fighters in Lebanon. The move was contrary to the government’s public policy of refusing to negotiate with “terrorists”.

When news of the deal broke, it was revealed that part of the money earned from the arms sales had been used to circumvent congressional restrictions and buy weapons and supplies for the Contras, a right-wing rebel group in Nicaragua.

Under public and media pressure, a congressional commission investigated the incident and determined that “Reagan’s lack of oversight enabled those working under him to divert the funds to the Contras”. Some members of the Reagan administration were charged, but Reagan was not.

Ronald Regan
Reagan holds up a copy of the Tower Commission report on the Iran-Contra affair [File: Ron Edmonds/AP Photo]

Bill Clinton, impeached for lying

Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in the House of Representatives for lying under oath to a federal grand jury on sexual harassment allegations.

The process was linked to a civil lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones, who had accused him of sexual harassment in an incident that she said occurred before Clinton became president.

During a deposition in that case, Clinton denied having an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old White House intern. He later admitted to lying under oath.

Bill Clinton
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton watches President Clinton during a news conference at the White House in Washington, DC [File: Susan Walsh/AP Photo]

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