President Bill Clinton Was Impeached 20 Years Ago Today

The year 2018 has been one of numerous anniversaries of various events in the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, and Wednesday marks a significant one. On December 19, 1998, twenty years ago today, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, per USA Today.

After revelations in January of that year that Clinton was accused of having an extramarital affair in the White House with an intern and may have perjured himself, the investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr ramped up throughout 1998.

On December 19, the House voted to pass two articles of impeachment for perjury before a grand jury and obstruction of justice. Two additional articles, for an additional perjury count and abuse of power, failed to pass the House. Clinton, therefore, became the second president in history to be impeached, and the first since Andrew Johnson in the 19th century. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 rather than face a near-certain impeachment.

On the same day of the impeachment votes, Rep. Robert Livingston of Louisiana, who had been expected to become the next Speaker of the House, suddenly announced that he would not stand for speaker and would resign his seat the following year after it was reported that he himself had had an extramarital affair. In a shocking floor speech, Livington called for Clinton to follow his example and resign as well.

Dennis Hastert of Illinois soon emerged as the leading contender and would serve as speaker until the Republicans lost the House in 2006. Years later, Hastert admitted to sexual abuse of minors as well as illegally structuring hush money payments to an accuser. He went on to serve prison time, the highest-ranking elected official in U.S. history to ever do so.

Clinton did not resign, was acquitted in a Senate trial in early 1999, and served the rest of this term. On the afternoon of December 19, he hosted a rally on the White House lawn along with Democratic lawmakers to show that he maintained the support of his own party.

The legacy of the 42nd president, especially in relation to the scandal, has changed various times in the intervening two decades, especially on the two occasions in which Hillary Clinton ran for president. The influence of the #MeToo movement has been apparent on many of the 20th-anniversary remembrances, especially in regard to re-evaluating the accusations against Clinton by Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and others. Monica Lewinsky, meanwhile, has emerged as an anti-bullying activist and has also written and spoken this year about her experiences during the impeachment drama.

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