Impeachment Trial of Bill Clinton Part 1: January 7-15, 1999


Between December 20 and January 5, Republican and Democratic Senate leaders negotiated about the pending trial. More on the Clinton impeachment: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=tra0c7-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=72cf442f293aa9c43f5d1803934cd95a&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=books&keywords=clinton%20impeachment There was some discussion about the possibility of censuring Clinton instead of holding a trial. Disagreement arose as to whether to call witnesses. This decision would ultimately not be made until after the opening arguments from the House impeachment managers and the White House defense team. On January 5, Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Republican, announced that the trial would start on January 7.

Thirteen House Republicans from the Judiciary Committee served as “managers”, the equivalent of prosecutors: Henry Hyde (chairman), Jim Sensenbrenner, Bill McCollum, George Gekas, Charles Canady, Steve Buyer, Ed Bryant, Steve Chabot, Bob Barr, Asa Hutchinson, Chris Cannon, James E. Rogan and Lindsey Graham.

Clinton was defended by Cheryl Mills. Clinton’s counsel staff included Charles Ruff, David E. Kendall, Dale Bumpers, Bruce Lindsey, Nicole Seligman, Lanny A. Breuer and Gregory B. Craig.

The Senate trial began on January 7, 1999, with Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist presiding. The first day consisted of formal presentation of the charges against Clinton, and of Rehnquist swearing in all senators.

A resolution on rules and procedure for the trial was adopted unanimously on the following day; however, senators tabled the question of whether to call witnesses in the trial. The trial remained in recess while briefs were filed by the House (January 11) and Clinton (January 13).

The managers presented their case over three days, from January 14 to 16, with discussion of the facts and background of the case; detailed cases for both articles of impeachment (including excerpts from videotaped grand jury testimony that Clinton had made the previous August); matters of interpretation and application of the laws governing perjury and obstruction of justice; and argument that the evidence and precedents justified removal of the President from office by virtue of “willful, premeditated, deliberate corruption of the nation’s system of justice through perjury and obstruction of justice”. The defense presentation took place January 19–21. Clinton’s defense counsel argued that Clinton’s grand jury testimony had too many inconsistencies to be a clear case of perjury, that the investigation and impeachment had been tainted by partisan political bias, that the President’s approval rating of more than 70 percent indicated his ability to govern had not been impaired by the scandal, and that the managers had ultimately presented “an unsubstantiated, circumstantial case that does not meet the constitutional standard to remove the President from office”. January 22 and 23 were devoted to questions from members of the Senate to the House managers and Clinton’s defense counsel. Under the rules, all questions (over 150) were to be written down and given to Rehnquist to read to the party being questioned.

On January 25, Senator Robert Byrd moved for dismissals of both articles of impeachment. On the following day, Representative Bryant moved to call witnesses to the trial, a question the Senate had scrupulously avoided to that point. In both cases, the Senate voted to deliberate on the question in private session, rather than public, televised procedure. On January 27, the Senate voted on both motions in public session; the motion to dismiss failed on a nearly party line vote of 56–44, while the motion to depose witnesses passed by the same margin. A day later, the Senate voted down motions to move directly to a vote on the articles of impeachment and to suppress videotaped depositions of the witnesses from public release, Senator Russ Feingold again voting with the Republicans.

Over three days, February 1–3, House managers took videotaped closed-door depositions from Monica Lewinsky, Clinton’s friend Vernon Jordan, and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal. On February 4, however, the Senate voted 70–30 that excerpting these videotapes would suffice as testimony, rather than calling live witnesses to appear at trial. The videos were played in the Senate on February 6, featuring 30 excerpts of Lewinsky discussing her affidavit in the Paula Jones case, the hiding of small gifts Clinton had given her, and his involvement in procurement of a job for Lewinsky.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Bill_Clinton#Senate_trial


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