January 26th 1998: Clinton denies relations with Lewinksy
On this day in 1998, US President Bill Clinton publicly denied having “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinksy. Lewinksy was a White House intern when she engaged in sexual activity with the President. Because they did not have intercourse, Clinton denied their relationship. For supposed perjury and obstruction of justice over the incident, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives but was not removed from office in the subsequent Senate trial.
On this day in 1998, Democratic US President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. On December 19th, the House charged Clinton with perjury to a grand jury (228-206 vote) and obstruction of justice (221-212 vote). Two other articles of impeachment failed: a second count of perjury (205-229) and abuse of power (148-285). The votes were mostly partisan, with only 4 Republicans opposing all 4 articles, and 5 Democrats voted for 3 and 1 Democrat actually voted for all 4 (Gene Taylor of Mississippi).
The impeachment arose from the Lewinsky scandal, when it was discovered that Clinton had engaged in oral sex with White House intern Monica Lewinksy, and from the Paula Jones lawsuit, when Clinton was accused of sexual harassment. Clinton had claimed that “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinksy”, believing that what they had engaged in did not class as ‘sexual relations’.
The trial proceedings were largely partisan, with every guilty verdict coming from Republican Senators, only 5 Democratic Representatives voting to impeach, and no Democratic Senators voting for conviction. With a two-thirds majority required for conviction, only 45 senators voted guilty on the perjury charge and 50 on the obstruction charge. Clinton was impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12th 1999.
Clinton is only the second President to have been impeached in American history, the other being Andrew Johnson in 1868.
April 10th 1998: Good Friday Agreement signed
On this day in 1998 in a major development of the Northern Ireland peace process, British and Irish representatives signed the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast. It was signed by Irish leader Bertie Ahern (above, left) and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (above, right) and the talks were headed by former US Senator George Mitchell (above, centre). The agreement followed 30 years of conflict and years of negotiation. The agreement included plans for a Northern Ireland Assembly and a pledge by both sides to use peaceful means of conflict resolution. It set out the present constitutional status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom but with a devolved government. The agreement was approved by Irish voters in a referendum and came into force in December 1999.
“Today I hope that the burden of history can at long last start to be lifted from our shoulders”
- Tony Blair