American Crime Story: What were the votes in Bill Clinton’s impeachment?

By Clémence Michallon

American Crime Story, FX’s anthology series, will soon be back with a new season.

Titled Impeachment, this instalment is a dramatisation of the circumstances that led to former US president Bill Clinton’s impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998 (and his subsequent acquittal by the Senate).

Clinton was revealed in 1998 to have had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern. This was the subject of a report by Independent Counsel Ken Starr, which was delivered to the US Congress on 6 September 1998.

Starr’s findings led the House of Representatives to impeach Clinton on the grounds of perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice on 19 December 1998.

Out of 435 voting members in the House of Representatives, 228 voted to impeach Clinton, a Democrat, on the perjury charge. This included 223 Republicans and five Democrats. Another 206 voted not to impeach, including five Republicans, 200 Democrats, and one Independent. One person did not vote.

Bill Clinton apologises to the nation from the Rose Garden of the White House on 11 December 1998 in Washington, DC (WILLIAM PHILPOTT/AFP via Getty Images)

On the obstruction of justice charge, 221 people voted to impeach, including 216 Republicans and five Democrats. Meanwhile, 212 people voted not to impeach, including 12 Republicans, 199 Democrats, and one Independent. Two people did not vote.

This resulted in Clinton’s impeachment on those two counts by the House of Representatives. Two other potential articles of impeachment were tossed.

Then-Representive-elect Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, argues for a no-vote on the first article of impeachment against Bill Clinton on 11 December 1998 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC (PAUL J RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Clinton’s trial by the US Senate began on 7 January 1999 and ended with his acquittal on 9 February 1999.

Out of 100 Senators, 55 voted not guilty (including 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans) while 45 (all Republicans) voted guilty on the first article of impeachment (the perjury charge).

Votes were split 50/50 on the second article of impeachment (the obstruction of justice charge). Five Republicans voted not guilty, joined by 45 Democrats. Fifty Republicans voted guilty. A ⅔ majority would have been needed for Clinton to be convicted; he was therefore acquitted of both charges.

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