On October 5, 1998, the House of Representatives recommended impeachment hearings against President Bill Clinton. The decision was made after a long and controversial investigation into the President’s conduct, specifically his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The investigation began in 1994 when Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton. During the investigation, Lewinsky’s name came up, and she was asked to testify. At first, Lewinsky denied the affair but later admitted to it and turned over a blue dress with Clinton’s DNA on it as evidence.
The recommendation for impeachment hearings came after the release of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s report, which detailed Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky and his efforts to cover it up. The report also accused Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying under oath about the affair during a deposition in the Paula Jones case.
The House Judiciary Committee voted to release the report to the public, and it soon became a national sensation. The report’s graphic details of Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky shocked the public and led to widespread condemnation of the President’s behavior.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives quickly moved to begin impeachment proceedings against Clinton. The House Judiciary Committee held hearings to determine whether Clinton’s actions constituted high crimes and misdemeanors, as required by the Constitution for impeachment.
The hearings were highly contentious, with Democrats and Republicans deeply divided over Clinton’s fate. Many Democrats argued that Clinton’s affair was a personal matter and did not rise to the level of impeachment. In contrast, Republicans argued that Clinton had committed perjury and obstruction of justice and had violated the public trust.
Ultimately, the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend impeachment on two charges: perjury and obstruction of justice. The full House of Representatives voted to approve the recommendation, sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.
The Senate trial was equally contentious, with Democrats and Republicans again deeply divided over Clinton’s fate. In the end, the Senate acquitted Clinton on both charges, with many Democrats arguing that the charges did not rise to the level of impeachment and that the President had been subjected to a partisan witch hunt.
The impeachment of Bill Clinton remains one of the most controversial and divisive moments in American political history. It highlighted the deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans and raised difficult questions about the role of personal behavior in public office.