The Impeachment of Bill Clinton

The Impeachment Process

The impeachment is a rare process in most world states. However, some civil officers are just unlucky and have to face it, sometimes they win, but others suffer the dire consequences. Why do officials have to be impeached? Well, it must be to restore sanity in leadership. In the united states, impeachment is an enumerated power held by legislatures to allow formal charges against civil officers alleged to have committed crimes while in office. Several presidents in the U.S. have encountered impeachment process although only two have succeeded, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, but none have ever got removed through impeachment and conviction. The removal of Clinton had political disagreements, and most Republicans held different views to those of Democrats.


On December 1998, the house of representative initiated an impeachment process against the forty-second president, Bill Clinton on two charges, justice obstruction and perjury. Those accuse emanated from a lawsuit of sexual harassment filed by Paula Jones although the Senate acquitted him of those offenses in February 1999. Leading to the impeachment, Ken Starr, an independent counsel, turned over papers to the house judiciary committee that were reviewed by David Schipper, the chief prosecutor and showed sufficient grounds for impeaching the president (Posner, 2009). Eventually, the house of representatives considered four charges and two were passed to make Clinton the second impeached president after Andrew Johnson suffered the same in 1868. In the Senate, the trial began after the 106th congress seating which the republican started with 55 members. Sixty-seven senators were required to achieve the two-thirds votes; fifty voted to remove the president on the grounds of justice obstruction while forty-five on perjury; his member in the democratic party did not vote on either charge.

Congressional process that affected the powers of the president.

The house of representatives approved the first article 228 to 206, accusing the president of perjury for misinforming the grand jury about the relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In the chamber, five Republicans crossed the party lines and voted against the impeachment while five Democrats supported it. The second article concerning obstruction of justice passed narrowly with 221 to 212 and accused Clinton of persuading others to lie to conceal his affair with Lewinsky. Five Democrats supported the impeachment according to this article while twelve Republicans rejected it. The Texas representative Dick Armey argued that the president has taken an oath to God, to tell the truth, and on this occasion, he had failed, meaning he undermined the rule of law. Other articles did not pass, for instance, the one accusing him of sexual harassment was rejected by 229 to 205, at this time, 28 Republicans voted against it. The other accusing the president of abuse of power emanating from the legalistic and evasive answers that Clinton gave to the eighty-one questions posed to him by the House judiciary committee also faced an overwhelming rejection, 285 to 148. Few hours before the president became impeached, Mr. Livingstone increased pressure to Clinton by withdrawing from Congress and claimed that Clinton should follow suit.

Presidential process that affected the powers of congress.

The house of representative was scheduled to meet on December 17th to consider articles of impeachment. However, a day before, Clinton launched a series of military attacks against Iraq, after Saddam Hussein failed to conform with U.N weapon assessors. The process was dubbed by the republicans saying that both policy and timing were questionable. The white house reporter asked Clinton whether the move was aiming to avoid the Congress impeachment vote, but he defended himself. The U.S.-British military operation also affected the impeachment process; Democrats wanted to postpone it until the action was concluded, terming the proceedings as improper. Democrats did not want the removal of the president while the U.S. pilots were fighting. However, republican allowed the process to be delayed for 24 hours noting the impeachment proceedings was also held against Richard Nixon when troops were in Vietnam. On December 18th, 1998, the house gathered to debate the impeachment process and on 19th, Bob Livingstone made a surprise announcement that he would quit Congress because of his revealed extramarital affairs, piling more pressure to the removal of Clinton.

Political tensions surrounding impeachment of president Clinton

Democrats argued that Clinton's actions were wrong but did not meet the impeachment threshold. The Michigan representative, David Bonior said that Republicans were hijacking an election to remove the president from office (Gillon, 2008). Before the representative could cast their impeachment votes, Democrats tried to propose objection, but after the debate, their motion was termed not suitable compared to impeachment; Ray LaHood, who presided the discussion ruled it out. Democrat appealed to the ruling although they knew losing was the only option because such appeals are challenges to the rights of the majority; their motion was rejected 230 to 204. The failure of democrat's debate made them walk out of the chamber in protest although they later returned to vote on the four impeachment articles.

Conflict between congress and presidency

The impeachment of Bill Clinton brought conflicts between the Congress and the presidency. Although Mr. Lott had assured that he would move ahead, some people wondered whether the Senate might flinch from the trial because of the people's popular will. Later after impeachment, many Republicans said they did not think that perjury would warrant an impeachment considering that even the judge had said it is immaterial. Many also did not see the sense of removing the presidents of grounds of abuse of power. The Ohio representative, David Hobson said that he supported the presidential impeachment process on the grounds of lying to the grand jury, but not according to Jones case (Skowronek, 2008). Though it was the truth, he worried whether the issue had a substantial threshold for impeachment; he did not want to pile up. Those are indications that there were conflicts between the presidency and Congress as they wonder whether impeachment was the right step, primarily because they did it even when against the popular will of people.

Changes in powers

William Clinton was impeached on obstruction of justice and perjury by the house of representatives that recommended the state to eject the president, and the vice president took over as the constitution stipulates. Hours after the vote, Democrats surrounded Clinton who walked on the south lawn of the white house with Hillary, his wife on his hand to pre-empt the resignation calls. William, who in his better days had debated his stand in the American president pantheon said he would still stay in office. Well, he decided to work and rise above those challenges, overcome divisions and pain and to repair the breach. In 1999, the Senate freed Clinton, and he continued with the office to complete his term.

Who gained powers between congress and presidency

Since the impeachment of Clinton ran against the popular will of people, many people felt as if it was unfair and feared that any president elected with the strong opposition would be facing the same trend (Devins, 2008). However, the legislature did not rectify the law. Due to lack of changes in the law, it means the Congress remained powerful than the presidency. Well, it is still not easy to eject an elected president, but in a situation where the opposition is strong and criminal grounds are sufficient, Congress maintains its powers.


Bill Clinton was charged with a sex scandal, something that triggered his impeachment in 1998. Democrats were against the process although it continued and succeeded even if it was against the popular will of people. Clinton had tried to delay it by launching attacks on Iraq and taking the responsibility of the U.S.-Britain operations. The Senate acquitted the president in February 1999 and Clinton resumed his duties as the president. The action leading to this process was immoral, but does it warrant an impeachment? Many can say that he was protecting his privacy by lying while others may tell that he was hiding the truth. The important thing is he was later convicted and came to light. Clinton did wrong, and justice was well served although none is perfect; people have voids, and Clinton was not an exception.


Devins, N. (2008). Presidential Unilateralism and Political Polarization: Why Today's Congress         Lacks the Will and the Way to Stop Presidential Initiatives. Willamette L. Rev., 45, 395.

Gillon, S. M. (2008). The pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the rivalry that defined a          generation. OUP USA.

Posner, R. A. (2009). An affair of state: The investigation, impeachment, and trial of President         Clinton. Harvard University Press.

Skowronek, S. (2008). Presidential leadership in political time: Reprise and reappraisal (p. 150).   Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

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