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This video does not show any discussion about U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., supposedly being impeached.
Congress has only once tried to impeach one of its members — a senator in 1797. That case set a precedent that members were not "civil officers" and therefore not subject to impeachment. They can, however, be expelled by a two-thirds vote in their chamber.
There are no news stories to suggest Schiff is at risk of being expelled, either.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is a frequent target of Republicans after his high-profile role as the lead prosecutor in the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
Schiff was ousted from his seat in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee in January by new Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in what some Democrats said was an act of retribution. Now a social media post falsely stated that he faces further punishment.
"It’s finally happening! Adam Schiff will be impeached," read the caption on a Facebook video shared April 19. "Brave Jim Jordan shuts down Schiff!" The video contained several clips, one that included Schiff and others with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The caption misstates what happened in the video. It began with a clip of a House Intelligence Committee hearing from March 28, 2019 and showed former Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, calling for Schiff, then the committee’s chair, to step down over the House’s investigation of Russia and the 2016 election. Conaway did not mention impeachment.
The video then showed two separate clips of Jordan criticizing Democrats on the House floor. But Jordan did not mention Schiff by name, let alone speak of impeaching him.
The most important thing the Facebook post fails to understand is that a member of Congress likely cannot be impeached, a precedent set after the House did impeach a U.S. senator in 1797.
Sen. William Blount of Tennessee, a Democratic-Republican, became the first person impeached by the U.S. House for disloyalty to the U.S. in a plot to expel the Spanish from Florida and Louisiana and transfer control of those territories to Great Britain.
The House and Senate each appointed select committees to investigate. The House announced plans to begin impeachment proceedings while the Senate expelled Blount from the chamber that year.
Formal articles of impeachment were delivered on Feb. 7, 1798, and the Senate trial began in December. Ultimately, the Senate dismissed the case in 1799, saying it had no jurisdiction because Blount was no longer a member, according to the U.S. Senate website.
The U.S. Constitution's impeachment clause states that, "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
Although the Constitution doesn’t define a "civil officer," Blount’s case set a precedent that legislators aren’t considered civil officers and therefore not eligible for impeachment, according to the House and Senate webpages about impeachment and the Constitution Annotated, a government-sanctioned record of how the Constitution has been interpreted.
"This determination has been accepted ever since by the House and the Senate, and since then, the House has never again voted to impeach a Member of Congress," the Constitution Annotated said.
Instead, the House and Senate use expulsion to oust members accused of wrongdoing. That requires a two-thirds vote. The Senate has expelled only 15 members in its history, and 14 of those came during the Civil War for supporting the Confederacy. The House has expelled only five members, the most recent being James Traficant, D-Ohio, in 2002, who was convicted of several felonies, including soliciting bribes. There are no news reports that Schiff is at risk of being expelled, much less impeached.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
CNN, "Hear Schiff's heated response after calls for resignation," March 28, 2023
Politico, "Schiff smacks back at Republicans calling for him to resign," March 28, 2019
PolitiFact, "Impeach a member of Congress? Over 200 years of history say no," Oct. 7, 2019
Constitution Annotated, "ArtII.S4.2 Offices Eligible for Impeachment," accessed April 24, 2023
Cornell Law School, "U.S. Constitution Article II," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. House of Representatives, "Impeachment," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. House of Representatives, "List of Individuals Expelled, Censured, or Reprimanded in the U.S. House of Representatives," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. House of Representatives, "William Blount," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. Senate, "Impeachment Trial of Senator William Blount, 1799," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. Senate, "Expulsion Case of William Blount of Tennessee (1797)," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. Senate, "Impeachment," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. Senate, "William Blount jurisdiction," accessed April 24, 2023
U.S. Senate, "About Expulsion," accessed April 24, 2023
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