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Federal Impeachment

William J. Clinton

Rebecca Roth, photographer. [Front cover of the Independent Counsel's report (Starr report)]. [Sept. 1998]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The impeachment of President Clinton originally stemmed, in part, from a civil suit involving sexual harassment claims against Clinton by Paula Jones, based on an alleged encounter that took place in Arkansas before he was elected president. During the pendency of Jones v. Clinton, and after he was reelected for a second term, evidence emerged that Clinton had had an extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern at the time. In early 1998, Clinton was deposed by Jones’ lawyers and denied having a sexual affair with Lewinsky; Lewinsky also submitted a sworn affidavit corroborating Clinton’s testimony.

At this time, Kenneth Starr was serving as an independent counsel, charged with investigating some of the Clintons’ business dealings that resulted in a failed real estate investment in Arkansas (“Whitewater”). After Lewinsky was secretly recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation discussing her relationship with Clinton, Starr’s investigation was expanded to include determining whether Clinton had lied under oath during his deposition. Lewinsky was granted immunity and testified before Starr’s grand jury in July that she and Clinton had had a sexual relationship; Clinton subsequently admitted to lying under oath.

On September 8, 1998, the House opened an impeachment inquiry before the Judiciary Committee, which returned four articles of impeachment for a House vote in December. The articles of impeachment included two articles related to perjury, one for obstructing justice, and one for abuse of office. On December 19, the House voted in favor of two articles of impeachment, finding that Clinton had committed perjury before the grand jury and had obstructed justice, but rejected the remaining articles. The Senate held a trial in early 1999; on February 12, 1999, the Senate acquitted Clinton.

The materials listed below are organized based on whether they were created by the House or Senate. In addition to congressional materials, many scholarly articles and books have been written about the Clinton impeachment, including Merrill McLoughlin's The Impeachment and Trial of President Clinton: The Official Transcripts, from the House Judiciary Committee to the Senate Trial (1999). McLoughlin's book synthesizes congressional documents and summarizes the proceedings before the House and Senate, and includes an appendix with Senate roll call votes on Clinton's trial. For additional items related to the Clinton impeachment, see Secondary Sources under this guide.