Today in History: US House of Representatives Votes to Impeach President Clinton

Today in History: US House of Representatives Votes to Impeach President Clinton

By M.C. Millman

On December 19, 1998, after nearly fourteen hours of debate, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, forwarding the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.

President Bill Clinton was the second president in United States history to be impeached. He was charged with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton was also the first sitting president to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct. 

The Starr Report, which was a four-year probe into the behavior of the president, outlined a case for impeaching Clinton on 11 grounds, including obstruction of justice, perjury witness-tampering, and abuse of power. On October 8, the House authorized an impeachment inquiry. On December 11, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment and then, on December 19, the House of Representatives impeached Clinton.

On January 7, 1999, the 1868 impeachment trial of President Clinton got underway in the Senate. Five weeks later, on February 12, 2000 the Senate voted on whether or not to remove the president from office. 

In the end, Clinton was acquitted on both articles of impeachment. A two-thirds majority was needed to convict the president, but the prosecution failed to get even a majority.

The voters rejected the charge of perjury when forty-five Democrats and ten Republicans voted not guilty. The second charge of obstruction of justice was split 50-50, allowing the 42nd president to complete his term.

“The president,” Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stated at the end of the proceedings, “has been cleansed.”

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