"I want an America where family values live in our actions, not just in our speeches." -- [Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech of then Governor Clinton, Democratic National Convention - July 1992]
"If a President of the United States ever lied to the American people, he should resign." -- [Candidate Bill Clinton, responding to a question about President Nixon, while running for the US House of Representatives in 1974.]
Putting An End To It:
In the last hours of his last full day as president, President William Jefferson Clinton entered into an agreement with the Office of the Independent Counsel to avoid being indicted for perjury or obstruction of justice once he left office. In the agreement he admitted to giving "misleading testimony" before a federal judge and later a federal grand jury. However, he also continued to use most any phrase possible to describe his conduct, referring to it as "walking a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely," without using the one word he had long avoided, that he had "lied." Perhaps President Clinton's firm determination to avoid saying he had "lied" in court, and later to the American people, was a line he drew based in part on his own 1974 remark as a candidate for Congress. Then presidential lying seemed to be a clearer matter, leading to his statement that, "If a President of the United States ever lied to the American people, he should resign." If nothing else became clear regarding President Clinton as a man, unlike the president in 1974 - Richard Nixon, President Clinton would never resign.
In return for the dropping of any criminal or civil charges against him, President Clinton agreed to a five year suspension of his Arkansas law license, the payment of a $25,000 fine and agreed that he would not seek government reimbursement of his legal expenses. For three years this simple act of admitting that he had lied had been, and would continue to be, steadfastly avoided by President Clinton. This despite the fact that nearly no one in America believed that he had not lied. Despite also the fact that many Americans over the three years, both supporters and opponents of the President, increasingly advocated for the President to do just that. This position was based largely on a belief that if he had simply told the full truth, admitted at any point that he "lied," the incident would have more quickly faded from the public debate.
While the President's critics could have been expected to be "disappointed" in the "Clinton Years," even many of his strongest supporters and leading Democrats expressed a level of disappointment. Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" on 18 January 2001, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WVA) responded to questioning from Mr. King that President Clinton had "squandered" his great abilities. Cited as evidence of this were his failing to have tackled two of the nation's most serious issues of the day, reform of the Social Security and Medicare programs, among others. The President's critics had argued that more than solving the problems associated with these programs, he wanted them as issues to be used to his political advantage against his Republican rivals. Sen. Byrd in his interview with Mr. King gave President Clinton high marks on his mastery as a "politician," but withheld those high marks with regard to Mr. Clinton as a "statesmen."
Clearly, the recklessness of President Clinton's conduct regarding the events leading up to his impeachment highlight the perception that the President had "squandered" the opportunity that he had, during good economic times and relative world peace, for greatness. The presidency that came to office on the campaign theme that "it's the economy stupid" would be defined largely by two topics. The first would indeed be the economy, but the second would be the questions of character epitomized by the events surrounding the President's impeachment.
Behind a backdrop unique in historical terms, on Saturday 19 December 1998, President Clinton was impeached by the United States House of Representatives, becoming only the second President in U.S. History, and the only man popularly elected as President to have been so charged. The House voted 228 to 206 to approve proposed Article I of Impeachment (Perjury before a Federal Grand Jury), and voted 221 to 212 to approve proposed Article III of Impeachment (Obstruction of Justice).
The backdrop included the Republican majority position that the President's offenses threatened the "rule of law;" the Democratic minority position that the President's offenses "did not rise to the level of impeachment;" opinion polls showing that more than 60% of the American public were then against impeachment; statements from Democratic loyalists that the Republicans would "lose their majority in the House in the year 2000 elections" if they proceeded with impeachment; clear statements from Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and other Republicans that impeachment was a matter of duty and principal more important than maintaining their Republican majority in the House; public opinion polling showing that many Americans wrongly believed that "impeachment" brought by itself the removal from office of a President; a 70-hour U.S. military bombardment of Iraq; a suspicion that the timing of that military attack had been politically motivated by the President to distract public attention from his impending impeachment; calls by Democratic members that any consideration of impeachment should be delayed while American military personnel were engaged in Iraq; calls for the President's resignation from numerous Republican members of Congress, as well as Rep. William Lipinski (D-IL), who would also vote against impeachment; the exposure of past marital infidelity by the nominee for Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Robert Livingston (R-LA); threats from the publisher of Hustler Magazine that other Members of Congress in support of impeachment would be "exposed;" a dramatic call for the President's resignation from Rep. Livingston, followed immediately by jeers and "cat-calls" of "you resign" from Democratic Representatives, which interrupted Rep. Livingston as he proceeded to announce just that, his own resignation; pleadings from Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and other Democratic Representatives for Rep. Livingston to "reconsider" his resignation and statements that "no one," in clear reference to both Rep. Livingston and the President ,"should resign;" demands by the Democratic members that a vote on a "Sense of the House Resolution" regarding the "censure" of the President be made available as an alternative to impeachment; a Democratic procedural move to have the impeachment process replaced with censure being defeated by a vote of 230 to 204; a brief Democratic "walk-out" from the House Chamber to protest the lost vote on the procedural vote on "censure;" an outcome in which only five Democratic Representatives would vote for the Articles of Impeachment approved by the House; an outcome in which 18 Republicans voted against Impeachment Article II (Perjury in the Paula Jones civil case), and 74 Republicans voted against Impeachment Article IV (Abuse of Power); the appointment of 13 Representatives to serve as the "managers" appointed to prosecute the case before United States Senate in the weeks to follow; the delivery of the approved Articles of Impeachment by Rep. Henry Hyde and the other managers to the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Senate; the clear statement of the President the he would serve until the "last hour of the last day" of the full second term to which he had been elected; the presence of about 80 Democratic Representatives to witness the President's remarks on the day's events and as a "show of support" for him; public opinion polling showing that a growing number of Americans, then 45%, wished the President to resign; and the adjournment of the 105th Congress.
Acquittal ... But with Rebuke from Almost Everywhere:
On February 12, 1999, the official day of observance honoring President Abraham Lincoln's birth, the United States Senate, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist presiding, decided whether President Clinton would be removed from office. A Gallup Poll gauging the public's perceptions that was taken on 11 February 1999, the day before the Senate Trial votes, found that 73% of Americans believed that the President had committed perjury. With the straight party-line support of all 45 Democratic senators, the President was acquitted of both impeachment articles pending against him. However, even his supporters were quick to add that this acquittal was not "vindication." Sen. Thomas Daschle, the senate Democratic minority leader from South Dakota, was quick to agree with CNN correspondent Judy Woodward that the President has been "rebuked," and continued to advocate for a formal censure of the President by the Senate or the Congress as a whole. Sen. Byron Dorgan, the Democratic senator from North Dakota, in his own remarks following the Senate's actions, stated that the President should take "no solace in this vote," and like the vast majority of the President's supporters again took the opportunity to distance himself from the President and his conduct. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Ct), one of the President's longest and strongest supporters in the Senate, remarked that the whole 13 month long scandal was "an unnecessary tragedy that he (President Clinton) brought on himself." The senate majority leader, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), who voted to convict the President on both articles, stated "I think people felt that clearly the president's conduct was deplorable, indefensible, dishonorable." Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) stated that President Clinton would ''go down in history as the president remembered as the most accomplished, polished liar we have ever had serving in the White House.''
On Impeachment Article I, dealing with the charge that the President committed perjury before a federal grand jury, 45 senators voted "guilty" and 55 voted "not guilty." All 45 Democratic senators voted "not guilty," and were joined by ten Republican senators who voted against finding the President guilty. Those Republicans voting "not guilty" were Senators Chafee, Collins, Gorton, Jeffords, Shelby, Snowe, Stevens, Thompson and Warner. They were joined by Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter who stated a desire to vote "not proven," which under the Constitution and Senate rules was counted as a "not guilty" vote. Sen. Specter maintained that he did not believe that the President was innocent of the charges, only that based upon the tightly controlled Senate trial, the House Managers, who were appointed to present the case for impeachment to the Senate, were unable to make the case to a standard high enough for Sen. Specter to vote to convict and remove the President.
On Impeachment Article II, dealing with the charges that the President had participated in an "obstruction of justice," the vote split at 50 voting "guilty" and 50 voting "not guilty." The tie vote was of no legal significance with respect to the outcome due to the fact that two-thirds, or 67 of the senators would have had to vote to convict the President for him to have been removed from office. Again all 45 Democratic senators voted in a party-line block "not guilty." They were joined by only five Republicans, Chaffe, Collins, Jeffords, Snowe and Specter. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), expressed a public sentiment for herself, and the other three Republican senators voting against conviction, by stating that she believed that the evidence against the President was "strong," but that the charges did not rise to the level of impeachment. Critics would contend that the vote of many not to convict the President had much more to do with the President's popularity in the public opinion polls than the seriousness of the charges against him. By the time of the Senate vote the President, according to the polls, continued to have the support of about two-thirds of the American people, despite the fact that as many as 80% of the people believed that the President had lied under oath and obstructed justice.
Following the trial vote in the Senate, the thirteen Republican House Managers expressed their support for the work that they had done in presenting the case, and a desire to move ahead with the other business of the nation. Rep. Asa Hutchison (R-AR) declared of he and his colleagues, "we have done our duty." However, they also expressed signs of frustration with the Senate trial process that had, in the words of Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), limited them to a "pitiful three" witnesses to prove their case, none of which were permitted to testify in person before the Senate. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), who was the lead House Manager and is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, referred to the Senate trail rules as "alien territory." Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) expressed his concern that the process had made the President, "stronger, but I fear not for the better." He stated that with the Senate voting not to convict the President, "damage" had been done to the Constitution, and that future Presidents may "flaunt the law" and attempt to escape justice by demanding the "party loyalty" of those members of his party in the Congress. Rep. Christopher Cannon (R-UT) expressed concern that "we have a President to whom it has never occurred to resign." He stated his belief that the burden was now on President Clinton to "draw the nation together."
At a post-trial press conference Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) was asked whether the Senate's actions had "nullified the impeachment clause of the Constitution" by allowing the members of the President's political party to vote as a block, preventing the removal of a President and declaring the opposition and the effort to remove the President as "partisan." Rep. Hyde's only public response to this question was "most interesting." Rep. Hyde had earlier remarked that he now believed that the impeachment process by its very nature "does not lend itself to bi-partisanship." When asked in follow-up as to whether the President should be indicted criminally for his offenses, Rep. Hyde stated that "the prospect of a former President in jail is off putting to me."
Following the votes on whether the President was "guilty" and should be removed from office, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on behalf of several Democratic senators attempted to introduce a motion of censure condemning the President. The motion stated that the President has engaged in "shameful, reckless and indefensible" conduct, that he had "deliberately misled and deceived the American people," and that he had brought "shame and dishonor to himself and the Office of the President." Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) objected to the motion, introducing his own to block Sen. Feinstein's motion on procedural grounds. Sen. Gramm expressed the sentiments of many senators that a censure motion was merely an attempt for those voting against removing the President to give themselves "political cover." He previously condemned the measure as "unconstitutional." Others including Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) expressed concerns that the measure was dangerous, while still others stated that it was meaningless. Sen. Feinstein's motion would require a "suspension of the rules" absent unanimous consent, which would have required a two-thirds vote. The Senate voted 56-43 to allow debate on censure, 11 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed. The Senate then adjourned without taking any further action on the matter.
For his part, more than an hour and a half following the final vote in the Senate not to convict him, President Clinton made a brief public statement in the Rose Garden at the White House. The President opened that brief statement with the following words:
"Now that the Senate has fulfilled its Constitutional responsibilities bringing this process to a conclusion, I want to say again to the American people, how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and the American people."The setting and remarks of the President were in stark contrast to those that occurred in December when, on the day of his impeachment in the House of Representatives, a defiant President Clinton participated in what was described by many commentators as a "pep rally," and what Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WVA) declared as "an egregious display of shameless arrogance -- the like of which I don't think that I have ever seen."
``The court takes no pleasure in imposing contempt sanctions against this nation's president and, no doubt like many others, grows weary of this matter. Nevertheless ... sanctions must be imposed to redress the president's misconduct and to deter others who might consider emulating the president's misconduct."It will be left to the historians to determine what impact Judge Wright's conclusions, regarding President Clinton's "false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process," would have had on the impeachment process and the Senate trial, if they had been issued in September of 1998 rather than in early 1999.
"In sum, perjury and acts that obstruct justice by any citizen -- whether in a criminal case, a congressional hearing, a civil trial, or civil discovery -- are profoundly serious matters. When such acts are committed by the President of the United States, we believe those acts 'may constitute grounds for impeachment.'" (From the Introduction to the Report of the Independent Counsel. September 1998)
"I want to say one thing to the American People. I want you to listen to me. I'm gonna say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American People. Thank you."
"Today, there is insurmountable evidence that the President has violated the public trust. Whether knowingly accepting illegal foreign campaign contributions, compiling secret files on American citizens, obstructing justice, or misusing the people's house for personal gain, the transgressions by this Administration have been frequent and grave."In an additional statement from Rep. Barr issued on November 5, 1997, Barr stated that President Clinton had "... engaged in a systematic effort to obstruct, undermine and compromise the legitimate and proper functions and processes of the Executive Branch."
"My immediate reaction to this statement [referring to President Clinton's August 17, 1998 remarks] was deep disappointment and personal anger. I was disappointed because the President of the United States had just confessed to engaging in an extramarital affair with a young woman in his employ and to willfully deceiving the nation about his conduct. I was personally angry because President Clinton had by his disgraceful behavior jeopardized his Administration's historic record of accomplishment, much of which grew out of the principles and programs that he and I and many others had worked on together in the New Democratic movement. I was also angry because I was one of the many people who had said over the preceding seven months that if the President clearly and explicitly denies the allegations against him, then, of course, I believe him."
"Now, Mr. President, my colleagues are all well aware of the very difficult path we may be starting down now that the Starr report has been received. The House will take the first hard steps, and the Senate may--I say, may--have to follow. If we hope to restore the confidence of the Nation in their Government, and in the Congress in particular, Members must be allowed to carry out their task free from the kind of hype and speculation and inflammatory commentary that is swirling all around us.
"Beginning a week from today, the Committee will meet in open session to consider a resolution of inquiry. The question facing the Committee is quite simple: Do the allegations against the President merit further investigation? Should we inquire further into these allegations or refuse to take a closer look? That's the issue."On October 5, 1998, the Judiciary Committee met to consider the evidence thus far. That evidence was outlined in part by Chief Investigative Counsel, Mr. David Schippers. Following a detailed review of that evidence, Mr. Schippers made the following statement:
"Mr. Chairman, may I be permitted to make a personal observation, I am speaking no longer as Chief Investigative Counsel, but rather as a citizen of the United States, who happens to be a father and grandfather. To paraphrase St. Thomas More in Robert Bolt's excellent play "A Man for All Seasons," the laws of this country are the great barriers that protect the citizens from the winds of evil tyranny. If we permit one of those laws to fall, who will be able to stand in the gusts that will follow? Members of the Committee, it is not only the people in this room, or the immense television audience that are watching; 15 generations of our fellow Americans, many of whom are reposing in military cemeteries throughout the world, are looking down upon, and judging what you do today."These remarks were subsequently stricken from the official House record, based upon the objections of several Democratic members of the committee. Before the day's business had concluded, the Committee voted to recommend to the full House that a formal "Impeachment Inquiry" be undertaken.
"I can confirm at this time that matters continue to be under investigation and review by this office. Consequently, I cannot foreclose the possibility of providing the House of Representatives with additional substantial and credible information arising from those investigations that President William Jefferson Clinton committed acts that may constitute grounds for an impeachment under 28 USC 595 (c)."On October 8, 1998, the full House of Representatives voted on the matter of authorizing a formal "Impeachment Inquiry" into the accusations against the President. During the debate on this matter, which preceded the historic vote moving forward with the impeachment process, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Il) took to the floor and offered his thoughts on the issue, which included these words:
"We here have another ideal,--to attain justice through the rule of law. Justice is always and everywhere under assault and it our duty to vindicate the rule of law as the surest protector of that fragile justice. And so, here today, having received the referral and 17 cartons of supportive material from the Independent Counsel, the question asks itself: Shall we look further -- or look away? "As we know now, the decision by a recorded vote of 258 yeas to 176 nays, was indeed to look further. House Resolution 581 read in part:
"Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary, acting as a whole or by any subcommittee thereof appointed by the chairman for the purposes hereof and in accordance with the rules of the committee, is authorized and directed to investigate fully and completely whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States of America."During November and early December 1998, the House Judiciary Committee conducted hearings into the President's alleged conduct which on 11 and 12 December 1998, would result in the Committee's passage of the four Articles of Impeachment against President Clinton. The four articles passed by the Committee consisted of the following:
ARTICLE I - Perjury before the Federal Grand Jury in August of 1998. (Passed on 11 December 1998 by a vote of 21 to 16 with no Democratic members voting for this article.)
ARTICLE II - Perjury during the President January 1998 deposition in the Federal Civil Right lawsuit brought by Paula Jones. (Passed on 11 December 1998 by a vote of 20 to 17 - Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted against this article. No Democratic members voted in favor of this article.)
ARTICLE III - Obstruction of Justice regarding the President's conduct in the "Jones V Clinton" matter, and the subsequent Federal Grand Jury investigation. (Passed on 11 December 1998 by a vote of 21 to 16 with no Democratic members voting for this article.)
ARTICLE IV - Abuse of Power regarding the President's false and misleading statements to the House Judiciary Committee in response to the 81 "Admit or Deny" questions sent to him by the Committee. (Passed on 12 December 1998 by a vote of 21 to 16 with no Democratic members voting for this article.)
"I have reviewed with dismay President Clinton's responses to the 81 requests for admission presented to him on November 5. The requests were made in order to allow the President to candidly dispute or affirm key sworn evidence before the Committee by admitting or denying certain facts. Unfortunately, the President decided not to respond to the requests directly, but rather to repeat testimony already before the Committee. Instead of shedding new light on the key facts, the President chose to evade them. He did not challenge the truthfulness of the evidence; rather, his responses revealed a selective ability to recall information."On 12 December 1998, the minority members of the Judiciary Committee attempted unsuccessfully to pass a resolution calling upon the full Congress to "censure", and not impeach, the President. Joining the Republicans in voting against the censure resolution was Representative Scott (D-VA). Additionally, Rep. Waters (D-CA) voted "present" on the measure which was defeated by a vote of 22 to 14 to 1.
It was only about sex ... ?
"An important -- but largely unreported -- misperception about the legal system is worrying legal experts across the country. In the wake of this yearís scandal in Washington, many people may believe itís okay to lie under oath in a civil suit, even if you get caught. ABC News 20/20's Sam Donaldson talks to three women who did just that -- lied under oath in civil suits -- but paid the ultimate price, time in prison."--
[Quoted from the ABC site. Air date and time of the segment: 1 November 1998 - 10:00-11:00pm ET - on 20/20. ABC News also reported that more than 115 people were then currently in Federal prison for perjury.]
On 1 December 1998, two of these women, Ms. Pam Parsons and
Dr. Barbara Battalino, testified before the House Judiciary Committee
regarding the consequences of "lying under oath in a civil case about
President Clinton is the nation's most recent former president, this page is
still under construction. A fuller formal biography, with the benefit of the
distance of time, is forthcoming. Please forward any suggested links to the Chief
Executive Club. Please continue on to the Fast Facts
Table and the Clinton Quiz.
|Date of Birth||Occupations||Wife||Children|
|19 Aug 1946||University professor||Hillary Rodham||One daughter|
|Electoral and Popular Votes
|Age When First
|None||Arkansas Attorney General
Governor of Arkansas
|Number of States
|Electoral and Popular Votes
Q1: Bill Clinton is one of three presidents who were born after their fathers had already died. Who were the other two? And the answer is...
Q2: Named William Jefferson Blythe IV following his birth, Bill Clinton is one of two presidents to have had their names changed due to changes in their family situation during childhood. Who was the other? And the answer is...
Q3: What educational distinction does Bill Clinton share with Gerald Ford? And the answer is...
Q4: Born in 1946, Bill Clinton's inauguration as Governor of Arkansas in 1979 provided him with what distinction? And the answer is...
Q5: Bill Clinton is one of only three presidents to have been the subject of an official impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives. Who were the other two? And the answer is...
Go to the page for William Jefferson Clinton maintained by the
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