Clinton was elected president in 1992 and reelected in 1996. During his first term, an independent counsel was appointed to investigate Whitewater, an Arkansas land deal involving Clinton that had taken place about 20 years previously. The counsel’s investigation later expanded to include scandals surrounding the firing of White House staff in its travel office, the misuse of FBI files, and an illicit affair that the president had with a White House intern.
In 1998, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr issued a report to the House Judiciary Committee. It found 11 possible impeachable offenses, all related to the intern scandal. Based on the independent counsel’s investigation, the House Judiciary Committee voted four articles of impeachment.
The first article accused the president of committing perjury before a grand jury convened by the independent counsel.
The second charged him with providing “perjurious, false and misleading testimony” in a civil case related to the scandal.
The third accused him of obstructing justice to “delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence” of evidence related to the scandal.
The fourth charged that he misused and abused his office by deceiving the American public, misleading his cabinet and other employees so that they would mislead the public, asserting executive privilege to hinder the investigation, and refusing to respond to the committee and misleading the committee about the scandal.
During the Judiciary Committee’s hearings, experts testified on what constituted “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The experts called by the Democrats argued that none of the allegations against the president rose to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” These experts echoed the reasoning found in the 1974 staff report and Professor Charles Black’s book on impeachment.
The experts called by the Republicans disagreed. They pointed out that federal judges had been removed from office for perjury. They further argued that the president had taken an oath to uphold all the laws and he had violated his duties as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.