The Clinton Impeachment Was Nonpartisan? Please.

Jeff Malet/Newscom/ZUMA

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Rep. James Sensenbrenner, one of the House managers in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, explains how it was different from the impeachment of President Trump:

Earlier this Congress, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, and Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, set forth criteria for undertaking an impeachment. They said that the evidence would have to be overwhelming and compelling, and, importantly, it would have to be bipartisan.

Looking back at the Clinton impeachment, I’m convinced we satisfied each of these. Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel, conducted a very lengthy and nonpartisan investigation, delivering 36 boxes of evidence to Congress. He concluded that the president had committed grand jury perjury and obstructed justice to cover his lies. Mr. Starr testified before our committee that the president might have committed impeachable offenses.

Ken Starr conducted a “lengthy and nonpartisan investigation.” God almighty. As we all know, it was indeed lengthy. But nonpartisan? After knowingly continuing to probe the Whitewater “scandal” long after he knew it was bogus, Starr eventually pushed his Ahab-like investigation into every crevice he could dream up, finally harpooning his white whale not by finding any presidential misconduct, but by laying out a carefully calculated and planned perjury trap for Clinton over the inconsequential question of whether he had ever gotten a blow job from Monica Lewinsky.

But sure, this was just an ordinary citizen doing his job, not a Republican diehard refusing to stop until he had something—anything—he could use against Clinton.

Donald Trump, by contrast, is being impeached not because Democrats even tried to investigate him over Ukraine. It just fell into their laps and then Trump himself released the transcript that showed he had tried to extort a foreign country to benefit him personally. There was no need for a long investigation because witnesses basically fell out of trees to confirm that, in fact, this was exactly what Trump had done. Nor was this a personal peccadillo. It was, plainly, a clear and serious abuse of presidential power.

I don’t know why I’m bothering with all this. It’s not like I expect anything different from Republican leaders these days. I guess my brain just melted a little bit when Sensenbrenner had the gall to take to the New York Times to pretend that the Clinton impeachment was nonpartisan. For chrissake.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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