Year
1998

U.S. House of Representatives recommends impeaching Clinton

On this day in 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary releases a 265-page report recommending the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The subsequent impeachment proceedings were the culmination of a slew of scandals involving the president and first lady Hillary Clinton. The Clintons were suspected of arranging improper real-estate deals, fundraising violations and cronyism in involving the firing of White House travel agents. Added to the mix were stories of Clinton’s extra-marital affairs and a sexual harassment claim filed against him. An independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, was appointed to investigate the Paula Jones sexual harassment case; the ensuing investigation led Starr to Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern who had been accused of having an affair with Clinton. In early 1998, the Lewinsky scandal broke to the press and Clinton vehemently denied the affair. A year of federal grand jury testimony from various individuals in both camps followed, while Clinton continued to refute the allegations and invoked executive privilege when subpoenaed in August 1998.

Clinton’s attempt to cover up the affair, which he later admitted to and apologized for, prompted incensed House Republican leaders to pass Resolution No. 611 on December 15, 1998. The resolution launched the impeachment process for high crimes and misdemeanors, including perjury and obstruction of justice. The report accused Clinton of concealing evidence, giving misleading testimony and influencing witnesses. In the opinion of the majority of the House, Clinton’s actions “undermined the integrity of his office.” Democratic leaders also disapproved of Clinton’s conduct but preferred to formally censure the president over impeachment.

After heated debate, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton on December 19. On January 7, 1999, the impeachment trial began in the Senate–it was the first such trial since President Andrew Johnson was accused of illegally removing the secretary of war from office and violating several Congressional acts in 1868. Like Johnson, Clinton was acquitted on February 12, 1999.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Bill of Rights is finally ratified

Following ratification by the state of Virginia, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, become the law of the land.In September 1789, the first Congress of the United States approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and ...read more

Stephen M. Balzer patents rotary-engine auto

On this day in 1896, the U.S. government awards Patent Number 573,174 to inventor Stephen M. Balzer for a gasoline-powered motor buggy that he built two years earlier. Balzer never mass-produced any of his cars, but his “experimental” vehicle was one of the first functioning ...read more

Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens

On this day in 2001, Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens after a team of experts spent 11 years and $27 million to fortify the tower without eliminating its famous lean.In the 12th century, construction began on the bell tower for the cathedral of Pisa, a busy trade center on ...read more

Jockey Sandy Hawley wins record 500th race

On December 15, 1973, Sandy Hawley becomes the first jockey to win 500 races in a single year. Born in Ontario, Canada, Hawley began working at Toronto race tracks when he was a teenager. He won his first race in October 1968 at Toronto’s Woodbine race track and quickly racked up ...read more

Sitting Bull killed by Indian police

After many years of successfully resisting white efforts to destroy him and the Sioux people, the great Sioux chief and holy man Sitting Bull is killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota.One of the most famous Native Americans of the 19th century, ...read more

Heavy rain leads to mudslides in Venezuela

Flooding and mudslides caused by extremely heavy rains on this day in 1999 kill thousands in Venezuela. Another 350,000 people, mostly the very poor, were left homeless from the terrible storm.In the Caracas metropolitan area, about 80 percent of the population was impoverished ...read more

James Brown begins his prison sentence

Legendary singer James Brown, also known as the “Godfather of Soul” and the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” becomes inmate number 155413 at the State Park Correctional Institute in South Carolina. Brown had had several run-ins with the law during the summer of 1988 that ...read more

Battle of Nashville, Tennessee

On this day in 1864, the once powerful Confederate Army of Tennessee is nearly destroyed when a Union army commanded by General George Thomas swarms over the Rebel trenches around Nashville.The Battle of Nashvillewas thefinale in a disastrous year for General John Bell Hood’s ...read more

The Bill of Rights becomes law

On this day in 1791, Virginia becomes the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making the first ten amendments to the Constitution law and completing the revolutionary reforms begun by the Declaration of Independence. Before the Massachusetts ratifying convention would ...read more