Frank Underwood is an entertaining television character, what with his scheming, plotting, and unstoppable drive to gain political power. But those qualities have made Frank a pretty terrifying President of the United States, and he's even losing popularity in the fictional House of Cards universe. But will Frank Underwood be impeached in Season 4 of the Netflix series? So far, most of the advertising has centered around Frank vying for reelection in a competitive year where his own party doesn't want him to run. But the possibility of a potential impeachment means that even if Frank somehow does manage to win the election, despite Claire, Heather Dunbar, Remy Danton, and Jackie Sharp all vying to destroy him (along with pretty much every other character), he'll still have new obstacles in his way.
Even though a lot of presidents have been faced with unpopularity, impeachment is incredibly rare — only two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were ever impeached, and both attempts to remove those presidents from office failed to get a majority vote in the Senate, thus allowing Johnson and Clinton to finish out their terms. Beyond these examples, several other presidents have been up for potential impeachment, but none the requisite votes needed in both the House or Senate were not achieved in those cases. However, if fictional president Frank Underwood finds himself facing a investigative committee, there will be plenty of justification for impeachment and for voting this POTUS out of office.
Editor's Note: Spoilers for all of the drama of Seasons 1 through 3 of House of Cards will follow. All justifications come from the U.S. Constitution's Impeachable Offenses.
1. Killing Peter Russo & Zoe Barnes
Obviously, killing two people is a capital crime and thus would qualify under the Constitution's "high crimes and misdemeanors" justification for impeachment, particularly because both murders were premeditated.
2. FEMA Mismanagement
Possibly the worst thing Frank has done as president is use FEMA money to fund his truly terrible jobs plan. This action might qualify as what the Constitution calls "abuse of discretionary powers," given that money is meant to be used only in the event of a national emergency.
3. Obstruction Of Justice
While President Richard Nixon was never impeached (he resigned instead), this is what nearly brought down the nation's 37th president. After The Watergate Scandal broke, the House of Representatives sought impeachment for four violations, according to the articles of impeachment documents: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up, and Constitutional violations. I think between the murders Underwood has covered up, the conspiracies he's plotted, and everything to do with Rachel Posner, Frank could be facing serious implications, a la Nixon before he resigned.
4. Bribery of... Well, Everyone
The show makes the point that just about every interaction between two government officials is little more than a power exchange, but Frank takes it a step further: He has made a lot of under the table deals that should qualify as bribery, particularly when he convinced businessman Xander Feng to abandon his relationship with businessman Raymond Tusk in exchange for a government contract. That's most certainly an impeachable offense.
5. Violating The Tenure Of Office Act
This violation is what led to Johnson's impeachment. The Senate and House agreed that according to the Constitution, Johnson was not allowed to fire the Secretary of War in order to appoint someone more favorable to the postwar South. Seeing as Frank fires people on a whim or concocts complicated ways for them to self-destruct, it seems his hiring practices are even more manipulative than Johnson's.
OK, so maybe Frank hasn't actually committed the Constitutional definition of treason yet, but it's only a matter of time, right? Frank is willing to sell out everyone from his wife to basically anyone he's ever met, and, technically, he did conspire with Tusk and Jackie to impeach their own party's president. I feel like there's a chance Frank could get himself in too deep with a foreign policy deal that qualifies as treason in Season 4.
After all, isn't all this buildup on House of Cards headed towards one spectacular failure?
Image: David Giesbrecht/Netflix; Giphy (6)