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With all the talk of impeachment hearings and the subsequent division our country is undergoing, it’s good to be reminded we’ve been down this road before. Maybe not the same road, or the same road for the same reasons – but certainly the same road where politics and parties, posturing, signifying and outrage are concerned.
To be reminded this is a process, and it is Theatre to a degree, is to be reminded this is politics; a game of hearts and minds and promises. A game where one set of rules applies one day and another set of rules apply to another – depending on what side is in power and which side of the aisle you sit. It’s a game, but does it make the stakes any less crucial? Did the sexual predilections of one President compare to the quasi-crime family pursuits of another? Depends on what you see and how you see it and what you are willing to admit from which side you are on.
History isn’t about casting aspersions and changing images – its about presenting an event or series of events and letting them play out to the observer, with no commentary.
This is about the impeachment of Bill Clinton. It was initiated on October 8, 1998, when the United States House of Representatives voted to commence impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, for “high crimes and misdemeanors”. The specific charges against Clinton were lying under oath and obstruction of justice. The charges stemmed from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones and from Clinton’s testimony denying that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The catalyst for the president’s impeachment was the Starr Report, a September 1998 report prepared by Independent Counsel Ken Starr for the House Judiciary Committee.
On December 19, 1998, Clinton became the second American president to be impeached (the other being Andrew Johnson, who was impeached in 1868) when the House formally adopted articles of impeachment and forwarded them to the United States Senate for adjudication. A trial in the Senate began in January 1999, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist presiding. On February 12, Clinton was acquitted on both counts as neither received the necessary two-thirds majority vote of the senators present for conviction and removal from office – in this instance 67. On Article One, 45 senators voted to convict while 55 voted for acquittal. On Article Two, 50 senators voted to convict while 50 voted for acquittal. Consequently, Clinton remained in office for the balance of his second term.
Here, as it was unfolding, is the vote as it happened and carried over NPR on December 18, 1998.