Top 8 Shocking Presidential Scandals in American History

Ryan Davis

Last updated: October 25, 2023

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America has a history spanning hundreds of years, experiencing 46 presidents with many different ups and downs and highlights. Behind the glory that presidents bring to the US, they also have personal stories that make people curious and surprised. Below are the top 8 shocking presidential scandals in American history, how they happened, and what consequences brought. Be prepared, because there are stories that will make you look differently at great people, especially the US president.

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37th President of the United StatesTerm: 1969- 1974Scandals in 1972

The Richard Nixon presidential scandal was a major political scandal in the US. Despite having a quite basic name, The Watergate Scandal, its story, and its consequences even raised an alarm in the whole of America about unchecked presidential power and corruption. 

So, what happened?

On June 17, 1972, right before Richard Nixon was ...

Richard Nixon (1913 -1994) | Watergate Scandal
40th President of the United StatesTerm: 1981-1989Scandal in: the 1980s

The Iran-Contra Affair was a complex scandal that unfolded during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. While his presidency was marked by several notable achievements, it was not without its share of scandals.

During Ronald Reagan's presidency, the United States was supporting rebels called the Contras in Nicaragua who were fighting against the socialist government. However, there was a law that said the U.S. government couldn't give them military aid. To get around this, some people in Reagan's administration came up with a ...

42nd President of the United StatesTerm: 1993-2001Scandal in 1988

The two above top Presidential Scandals in History are both stories related to politics, what about love scandals, even adultery scandals? 

Well, it would be remiss not to mention the love scandal that can be considered the most embarrassing during former President Bill Clinton's term. This is also considered an "unprecedented" love scandal in the history of American presidents. Actually, Former President Clinton was involved in a number of scandals when rumored ...

Bill Clinton (1946) | Monica Lewinsky Scandal
35th President of the United StatesTerm: 1961-1963Scandals in 1972

Similar to Bill Clinton, the 35th President of the US is also considered a lady-killer who was famous for having many “extramarital” relationships with many sexy beauties, including the "Sex bomb" Marilyn Monroe.  

In the early months of 1962, the attractive blonde actress Marilyn Monroe often appeared with the two President Kennedy brothers, causing many people to question their relationship. She is said to have had a sexual relationship with not only US President John F. Kennedy but also with the president's ...

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) | Marilyn Monroe Scandal
29th President of the United StatesTerm: 1921-1923Scandals in 1922

Warren G. Harding - 29th US President (1921-1923) - is one of the presidents with the shortest tenure in American history with only 881 days in office. However, in just those 881 short days, this very handsome-looking leader made many mistakes, including one of the top 8 shocking presidential scandals in American history, the Teapot ...

Warren G.Harding (1865-1923) | Teapot Dome Scandal
43rd President of the United StatesTerm: 2001-2009Scandals in 2003

Twenty years ago, the US launched a major military attack in Iraq under the pretext of "anti-terrorism". At first, President George W. Bush's administration received widespread public support. However, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center (USA), today, 62% of respondents believe that the campaign in Iraq is "not worth ...

22 and 24th President of the United StatesTerm: 1885 - 1889, 1893-1897Scandals in 1874

Throughout the history of the United States, there have been numerous presidents connected to the sexual scandal, including Warren G. Harding, JFK, and Clinton, to mention a few. However, The actions of President Grover Cleveland rank severely above those of any of his fellow Presidents and have been dubbed ...

Grover Cleveland (1837-1897) | The Maria Halpin Scandal
17th President of the United StatesTerm: 1865-1869Scandals in 1868

In fact, Andrew Johnson was the first US president to be impeached in history, making this event become of the top 8 shocking presidential scandals in American history. The impeachment of President Johnson in 1868 was the culmination of a fierce conflict between the Democratic president and the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives over the reconstruction of America after the Civil War.

Andrew Johnson's impeachment stemmed from his resistance to implementing the Reconstruction Acts, which aimed ...

Andrew Johnson | Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment

Final Thought

Throughout American history, many unexpected and outrageous presidential scandals have taken place. From Teapot Dome, to Watergate, to the recent news cycle involving President Trump, presidential scandals have had an immense impact on the nation. It is clear that our nation's leaders are not immune to making mistakes, creating controversy, and stirring public opinion. While many of these moments might be embarrassing, others are downright shocking, which is why the Top 8 Shocking Presidential Scandals in American History list was compiled. Through this list, readers can gain insight and understanding into how these eight major presidential scandals shaped America's history.

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