Bill Clinton’s impeachment process lasted for four months between 1998 and 1999. Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, was accused of lying under oath and of obstruction of justice in relation to a sexual harassment lawsuit that had been brought by Paula Jones. That lawsuit led to an independent inquiry from Counsel Ken Starr for the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee.
On September 24, 2019, the House Democrats announced that they had opened an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in announcing the beginning of the inquiry, “No one is above the law.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Clinton’ Impeachment Process Began on October 5, 1998
In September 1998, the House Judiciary Committee announced that an impeachment resolution would be brought to a vote on October 5. On that day, the committee voted 21-16 to move forward with a full impeachment inquiry. At the time, the New York Times described it as a “party-line” vote, with Democrats voting in favor of Clinton and Republicans voting in favor of impeachment.
2. 31 Democrats Supported the Investigation Into Clinton
The vote was taken to the House of Representatives on October 8 where the full impeachment inquiry was endorsed in a 258-176 vote. In total, 31 Democrats supported the Republicans supporting the inquiry. Those Democrats were, via CNN:
Reps. Leonard Boswell of Iowa; Gary Condit of California; Robert Cramer of Alabama; Pat Danner of Missouri; Etheridge; Lane Evans of Illinois; Virgil Goode of Virginia; Ralph Hall of Texas; Lee Hamilton of Indiana; Chris John of Louisiana; Ron Kind of Wisconsin; Kucinich; Nick Lampson of Texas; William Lipinski of Illinois; Carolyn McCarthy of New York; McHale; Mike McIntyre of North Carolina; Maloney ; David Minge of Minnesota; Jim Moran of Virginia; Collin Peterson of Minnesota; Owen Pickett of Virginia; Tim Roemer of Indiana; Norman Sisisky of Virginia; Ike Skelton of Missouri; Spratt; Charles Stenholm of Texas; Tauscher; Gene Taylor of Mississippi; Jim Turner of Texas; and Robert Weygand of Rhode Island.
After hearing testimonies from both sides between October and December 1998. The House Judiciary Committee voted to approve the articles of impeachment on December 11. Those articles accused Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice. Another article of impeachment, accusing the president of making false statements to Congress, was added on December 12.
3. The Impeachment Was Delayed Due to Air Strikes Against Iraq
An impeachment vote was due for December 17 but was abruptly canceled after the U.S. launched airstrikes against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. On December 19, the House approved two articles of impeachment against Clinton. The minor conflict with Iraq began due to Hussein’s reluctance to comply with United Nations weapons inspectors. It was known as Operation Desert Fox. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in response to allegations that the bombing was a distraction, “I don’t think we’re pretending that we can get everything, so this is — I think — we are being very honest about what our ability is. We are lessening, degrading his ability to use this. The weapons of mass destruction are the threat of the future.”
A similar allegation surrounded Clinton’s bombing of terrorist bases in Sudan and Afghanistan in August 1998, around the time the president was due to appear before a grand jury. That operation was known as Infinite Reach.
4. 10 Republicans Voted ‘Not Guilty’ on Perjury Charges
The perjury and obstruction of justice trial against President Bill Clinton began in the Senate on January 7, 1999. On February 12, 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted not guilty on the charge of perjury. While the Senate was split 50-50 on the charges of obstruction of justice.
5. Clinton’s Impeachment Investigation Cost $80 Million
CNN reported in April 1999 that the cost of the investigations into Bill Clinton cost $80 million.