1999: Clinton Acquitted; Shuster in Hot Water

Posted May 6, 2005 at 4:26pm

For five weeks in 1999, the Senate made history by convening an impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, the first of its kind in 131 years. The Senate acquitted Clinton on two articles of impeachment previously passed by the House, including charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

The first article, which argued that Clinton committed perjury, was rejected by a 55-45 vote, while the second, which alleged that Clinton “obstructed justice in the investigation conducted by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr,” failed in a 50-50 tie.

The Senate also failed in its attempt to censure the president, with the resolution garnering only 56 of the 67 votes needed for passage.

Though the president earned not guilty votes from both sides of the aisle, that did not necessarily mean Members approved of what he did or didn’t do.

“Clearly, the President did wrong — did things that were very wrong — but it didn’t reach the constitutional standard for removal from office,” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

In other ethics developments that year, then-House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) came under fire when reports of his relationship with Ann Eppard, his chief of staff-turned-transportation lobbyist, accepted extravagant gifts, trips and expensive meals from “a convicted Boston businessman [Richard Goldberg] seeking favors in the early 1990s,” and failed to include the favors in his financial disclosure reports.

In 2000, the “ethics committee scolded [him] for bringing ‘discredit’ to the House for accepting improper gifts and potentially misusing campaign funds. The letter cited ‘serious official misconduct’ by the former [Member].”[IMGCAP(1)]