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The Impeachment of Bill Clinton

Summary

When Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992, he promised to provide “the most ethical administration in history.” Due to the bitter partisanship that dominated Washington D.C. during his two terms and to his personal flaws, he became the most investigated President in history. In the second impeachment trial of a U.S. President, the prosecutors failed to convince two-thirds of the Senate that Clinton was guilty of “high Crimes or Misdemeanors”.

Narrative

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was investigating Clinton’s pre-presidential financial dealings, but could prove no wrongdoing. In a separate case, Clinton was being sued by Paula Jones for sexual harassment. In her effort to demonstrate that Clinton was a harasser, Jones called a young former White House intern named Monica Lewinsky to testify. Lewinsky had told a friend that she had been having a relationship with the President.

Clinton denied under oath any involvement with Lewinsky. Starr suspected the president had committed perjury and obstructed justice in the Jones trial. When Clinton testified for Starr’s grand jury, he gave evasive answers. However, that same night, he admitted the Lewinsky affair to the American people, apologizing to his family.

The House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment, both regarding Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky. Lying under oath is clearly a crime.

The president’s own lawyers said his behavior was “morally reprehensible,” but not impeachable. Whatever wrongs the president had committed were wrongs against his family, not matters of public concern because they did not threaten national interests. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton in 1998 on strict party lines, but in the Senate trial, Republicans fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict.

Some people believe that Clinton was impeached for political reasons, not for constitutional reasons.


Source: The Impeachment of Bill Clinton
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