This Day in History (7-Jan-1999) – US President Bill Clinton’s Trial For Impeachment Began In The Senate

In 1994, Ms. Paula Jones, filed charges against President Bill Clinton alleging sexual harassment in 1991. Amidst the controversy surrounding the case and the investigation by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, of the Whitewater corruption allegations, President Clinton engaged in an illicit sexual affair in 1995, with a White House intern, Ms. Monica Lewinsky, aged 21. After 18 months, Ms. Lewinsky was transferred to the Pentagon in 1996 on account of “inappropriate and immature behavior”, where she befriended Linda Tripp. In her conversations with Ms. Tripp, Ms. Lewinsky detailed her relationship with the President. Ms. Tripp started to secretly tape-record Lewinsky’s telephone conversations.

With the permission of the US State Justice Department, Kenneth Starr expanded his investigation, determined to prove that the President had committed perjury and obstruction of justice by encouraging Ms. Lewinsky to lie. Ms. Lewinsky was subsequently intercepted by the FBI and confessed to the affair. Following this, President Clinton swore in his deposition that he did not have any sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky. In July 1998, Starr egged Ms. Lewinsky into providing him DNA evidence of her sexual relationship with the president. With the evidence secure, Starr also persuaded Ms. Lewinsky to testify in front of a federal grand jury. The President also appeared before the jury but did not answer specific questions. Later, that night he confessed to the relationship on national TV.

On September 9, Starr delivered a 453-page report to the US House of Representatives citing 11 impeachable offenses. On December 19, the House impeached President Clinton. The impeachment trial in the Senate commenced on January 7, 1999. The impeachment trial lasted five weeks and ended with Clinton’s acquittal. Following the trial, Bill Clinton went on to say that he was “profoundly sorry” for the burden that his behavior had imposed on the people of the US and the American Congress. President Bill Clinton went on to complete the term of his presidency but the scandal severely damaged his reputation and that of White House. It was also responsible for Republican Senator Gorge W. Bush’s resounding success in the 2000 US presidential campaign and the defeat of Vice President Al Gore.


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