01/10/2020

With a 21-year divide, partisanship is the biggest difference between Trump and Clinton impeachment trials

President Donald Trumps impeachment trial in the Senate resembles that of Bill Clinton’s in 1999, but there are differences.
For one, the House did not conduct its own investigation in the Clinton impeachment. It used findings from independent counsel Ken Starr’s inquiry.
For another, partisanship has increased over the past 21 years, which means senators are less likely to cross party lines when voting. How the trials – and the times – compare:
In the Clinton trial, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist started the first day of House manager presentations by saying, “Well, let’s begin. Fight fair.”
In comparison, Chief Justice John Roberts scolded House managers and Trump attorneys on the first day after a heated exchange between Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
Roberts cited the impeachment trial of Judge Robert Swayne in 1905, when an objection was made to a manager using the word “pettifogging.”
“And the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used. I don’t think we need to aspire to that high of a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts said.
Clinton gave his State of the Union address while his impeachment was underway. He made no reference to it while speaking. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advocated completing Trump’s trial before the president gives his annual address.
Trump is likely to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate. A two-thirds majority – 67 of 100 senators – is needed to convict. Even in the unlikely event of a few Republicans voting with the 45 Democrats and two independents, it would not be enough to remove the president from office.
SOURCE USA TODAY reporting; Associated Press; “The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton,” by Peter Baker, 2001; USA TODAY research