Fifteen years ago today the United States House of Representatives impeached William Jefferson Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice. At the time, many believed that the Republicans in the House would lack the guts to do it. Despite the President’s shameful conduct with a White House intern, and his lying to the American people and under oath in an attempted cover-up, his popularity remained high. Times were good, and the Democrats (and much of the liberal media) had circled the wagons around him.
The wagons remained circled even when it became clear that Clinton had lied to Madeleine Albright and other members of his cabinet and sent them out to say things he knew (but they did not at the time) were lies. Down to nearly the last moment, the White House was confident that the Republican leadership would back off or, if they didn’t, would not be able to gather enough votes for an actual impeachment. What Clinton and his team did not reckon on was the determination and moral authority of Henry Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Here is the text of the article of impeachment that was voted through at exactly 1:19 p.m. on December 19, 1998, making Clinton the second president of the United States ever to be impeached:
In his conduct while President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has willfully corrupted and manipulated the judicial process of the United States for his personal gain and exoneration, impeding the administration of justice, in that: On August 17, 1998, William Jefferson Clinton swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth before a Federal grand jury of the United States. Contrary to that oath, William Jefferson Clinton willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony to the grand jury concerning one or more of the following: (1) the nature and details of his relationship with a subordinate Government employee; (2) prior perjurious, false and misleading testimony he gave in a Federal civil rights action brought against him; (3) prior false and misleading statements he allowed his attorney to make to a Federal judge in that civil rights action; and (4) his corrupt efforts to influence the testimony of witnesses and to impede the discovery of evidence in that civil rights action.
In doing this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Wherefore, William Jefferson Clinton, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?