Impeachment Trial of Bill Clinton

Tickets issued to former President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty
Tickets issued to former President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty

Historical Context

In 1998 and 1999, an extraordinary scene was enveloping American politics. President Bill Clinton, having previously admitted to having an affair with White House staffer Monica Lewinsky in 1995-6, was being impeached by the Congress on charges of obstructing justice and perjury.

The genesis of the impeachment came from the Starr Report, published in September 1998 by independent counsel Ken Starr. His investigation was spurred by the revelations of Clinton's affair, and his denial of that affair, before subsequently admitting it. Starr contended that Clinton had lied under oath when he denied having an affair with Lewinsky during a sworn deposition. (There was also the infamous video where Clinton exclaimed "I did not have sexual relations with that woman.")

On October 8, 1998, the House voted to commence impeachment proceedings, and Clinton was impeached by the House on December 19, 1998. The Senate trial began on January 9, 1999, presided over by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Just over a month later, Clinton was acquitted by the Senate and the impeachment was shelved.

No US president has ever successfully been impeached. Richard Nixon resigned before the proceedings (which would have almost certainly succeeded) began, Andrew Johnson was acquitted by one vote in the 1868 and the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump is still underway as of September 2019.

Document Info


Author(s): Unknown
Date taken: March 23, 2010
Location signed: Washington D.C., USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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