Republican talking point about impeachment — not entirely true

Update:  This is what you do when you fuck up and say something that is factually wrong.  You acknowledge your mistake and correct it.   Novel idea, I know.  Here we go.

WHOOPS, this Republican claim about Clinton’s impeachment not starting until his second term is entirely true. I was wrong about the date, completely and clearly wrong.   He was elected to his second term in 1996.  The impeachment began well after that date, as the Republicans have been pointing out in support of their idea that Democrats are trying to nullify the will of the voters who put Trump in office. (see footnote 3)

It’s not that Republicans didn’t do everything possible to hobble, compromise and humiliate Clinton before impeaching him, it’s just that they didn’t have firm grounds for it yet during his first term.  The story line of how they got the Clinton perjury and obstruction charges gets a little complicated.

The Supreme Court didn’t allow Paula Jones’s sexual harassment lawsuit against sitting president Bill Clinton to go forward until 1997, during Clinton’s second term.  It was a unanimous Supreme Court decision, by the way.   Once that lawsuit was allowed to go forward the Jones lawyers were able to subpoena Monica Lewinsky.  Monica Lewinsky was grabbed by the FBI under Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s direction (they called the grab “Prom Night”) and threatened her with a long prison term for her perjury in an affidavit (denying having had sex of any kind with Clinton) she wrote in connection to her subpoena in the Paula Jones suit.  Kenneth Starr’s team got the goods on Lewinsky and her affair with Clinton from her confidant Linda Tripp, who gave them audio evidence of the affair and led them to the Blue Dress with Clinton’s DNA (in the form of his semen) on it.  

The impeachment was started in October 1998, during Clinton’s second term — well AFTER his reelection in 1996, after Starr’s team had secured Clinton’s perjury relating to Lewinsky also lying about it in the Jones case (thrown out of court, appealed and settled by Clinton prior to the appeal being heard with an $850,000 payment) [1].   Familiar conservative lawyers played key roles in the case. {2]

I don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I wrote this piece I posted the other day  — and apologies to Brian Lehrer, he was right as rain.  Take the following with a grain or two of salt– my facts are dead wrong in relation to WHEN the impeachment started, it wasn’t right before the 1998 presidential election, that’s for sure.   I’ve corrected the errors in the original, like so:

Republicans have taken to calling the Trump impeachment inquiry an unprincipled, anti-democratic Democratic end-run around the will of the People. [3] Let the American voters decide in 2020, they say.   They point out that when they were in power they didn’t start the impeachment against the hated liar and fornicator Bill “Slick Willie” Clinton until after his re-election.  I heard Brian Lehrer repeat this inaccurate statement the other day on his otherwise excellent Impeachment, a daily podcast (I need to drop Brian a line, he’d want to know).

History is history and, although it is easily enough forgotten and ignored,  you can look up the dates that certain things happened and read certain undisputed details of public events.   You can make a confident declaration about some verifiable event in the past and simply be — inaccurate.  (AS I WAS IN THIS POST, AS TO THE TIMING OF CLINTON’S IMPEACHMENT)   It’s very easy to verify things like dates using the phone in your pocket 24/7– if you’ve got the time (or if you think for as long as it takes to recall that presidential elections occur every four years, 00, 04, 08, 16 etc.) . Just the facts, ma’am (though no longer in support of my original idea):

The impeachment of Bill Clinton was initiated on October 8, 1998, when the United States House of Representatives voted to commence impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, for “high crimes and misdemeanors“. The specific charges against Clinton were lying under oath and obstruction of justice. The charges stemmed from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones and from Clinton’s testimony denying that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.  The catalyst for the president’s impeachment was the Starr Report, a September 1998 report prepared by Independent Counsel Ken Starr for theHouse Judiciary Committee.[1] 

You can look it up, or just read the summary here.  One month before the 1998 presidential election [WTF?  the election  was two years earlier, the date is always a multiple of four– ed.], Newt and the boys started taking America back.   Talk about your October surprises.

Just sayin’…


[1]   Wikipedia:

Jones’s suit was dismissed as lacking legal merit prior to Clinton’s impeachment and the exposure of the Lewinsky affair. But in August 1998 Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky, and compelling evidence that he had lied about it under oath in the Jones suit, was brought to light. At that point Jones appealed the ruling, and her appeal gained traction following Clinton’s admission to having an affair with Monica Lewinsky in August 1998.[1]

On appeal, Clinton agreed to an out-of-court settlement, paying Jones and her lawyers $850,000 to drop the suit; a substantial portion of the settlement was expected to pay Jones’s legal fees.[2] Clinton’s lawyer said that the President made the settlement only so he could end the lawsuit for good and move on with his life.[3] Jones and her lawyers have said the payment is evidence of Clinton’s guilt.

[2]  Wikipedia:

[Ann] Coulter first became a public figure shortly before becoming an unpaid legal adviser for the attorneys representing Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton. Coulter’s friend George Conway had been asked to assist Jones’ attorneys, and shortly afterward Coulter, who wrote a column about the Paula Jones case for Human Events, was also asked to help, and she began writing legal briefs for the case.

Coulter later stated that she would come to mistrust the motives of Jones’ head lawyer, Joseph Cammaratta, who by August or September 1997 was advising Jones that her case was weak and to settle, if a favorable settlement could be negotiated.[21][137] From the outset, Jones had sought an apology from Clinton at least as eagerly as she sought a settlement.[138] However, in a later interview Coulter recounted that she herself had believed that the case was strong, that Jones was telling the truth, that Clinton should be held publicly accountable for his misconduct, and that a settlement would give the impression that Jones was merely interested in extorting money from the President.[21]


[3]  Leave aside that the will of the People was to elect the almost equally unpopular Hillary Clinton, by about a 3,000,000 vote margin.  Trump won the Electoral College, fair and square, by about 78,000 votes in three brilliantly played key states.

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