President Clinton’s Impeachment: Historical Perspective

Back in December of 1998, a newly appointed congressman named Chuck Schumer (D- NY) was tasked with voting on four impeachment articles against a sitting President.

With a Republican majority lead, the House voted to impeach then President Bill Clinton on two of the four impeachable charges; obstruction and perjury to a grand jury. Article 3 was now signed and would be passed to the Senate for a trial.

When Republican Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, received news of the House impeachment vote, he contacted Minority Leader Tom Daschle, his Democratic Senate counterpart.

“Well, Tom, this thing, whether we like it or not, is sitting in our lap, and we’ve got to figure out how to deal with it,”

Trent Lott, (R) Senate Majority Leader in a phone call to Tom Daschle, (D) Minority Leader

A Lott-Daschle communications hotline was established that day and was used throughout the entire senatorial procedure.

Constitution Responsibility

Although Republicans held a majority lead in the Senate (45 Democrats – 55 Republicans), Trent Lott knew his party was going against an overwhelmingly popular President Clinton. Any hint of judicial impropriety or unfairness, and the American public would most likely stampede countless Republican’s out of office in the next coming elections. Even if they garnered all (55) Republican votes during trial, it still fell far short of the required (67) 2/3rds super majority votes to remove the President.

What mattered most, was how the trial would be conducted.

“I knew the votes were not there, and were never gonna be there to remove Bill Clinton. So what I had to figure out, working with Tom, was how do we fulfill our constitutional responsibility in a respectable way.”

Trent Lott (R), Senate Majority Leader

McConnell and Schumer: Are They Flip Flopping?

Source: NPR article on 12/23 2019:

McConnell once argued on CNN that the proceeding should include “at least three fact witnesses”.

“Every other impeachment has had witnesses. It’s not unusual to have witnesses in a trial.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, 1999, Clinton Impeachment

“I do not think we need witnesses, because we have studied this for a year.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, 1999, Clinton Impeachment

So why the flip flop? Why are they both taking opposite opinions? The answer is simple.

Comparing Clinton and Trump Impeachments

The Clinton impeachment came after the infamous Starr investigation, which included grand jury testimony from subpoenaed witnesses. The fact the Trump administration has stood firm in disallowing key subpoenaed witnesses from giving testimony, cements Sen. Schumer’s opinion that witnesses should be questioned during this Senate impeachment trial.

“The witnesses in ’99 had already given grand jury testimony — we knew what they were going to say,” Schumer said last week of Clinton’s trial. “The four witnesses we’ve called (for the Trump impeachment trial) have not been heard from.”


A dangerous quagmire exists in American social politics. Wherever your stance may be on this impeachment; all American’s should want the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” to come out. We are a society of laws and those laws do not apply to only a few. Even the President of the United States is not immune to the laws of this nation. We all need to accept that fact.

Every ounce of testimony should be heard and judged fairly. If either side disallows testimony and evidence, then we as a people disallow what America stands for. This is no different than going to a murder trial and convicting someone just because of a bloody knife. We need to see the forensics and adjudicate based on the DNA evidence. Evidence that the Democrats have not been able to acquire because its been kept away from them.

If President Trump believes it was the “perfect” meeting; if he believes the handling of the Ukraine military funding was just, then he should not support the suppression of key testimony during the Senate trial. This is what the Democrats and Senator Schumer want. This is what Speaker Nancy Pelosi is fighting for. This is why the impeachment articles have not been sent over.

Instead, for reasons he can only answer, President Trump does not want witness testimony and we see an impeachment trial being rushed by Senator McConnell without all the necessary judicial components being in place.

When we subvert justice, we invite anarchy.


T.E. Snyder

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