Democrats are using the impeachment of President Bill Clinton as their blueprint for impeaching Donald Trump, but there are major important differences.
When Clinton was impeached, it was for lying to a grand jury regarding an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Other articles of impeachment were perjury (two counts), obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
His impeachment came at the hands of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives after they failed to find grounds during their extensive Whitewater Investigation.
I’m sure these steps look familiar.
Under a Democrat-controlled House, Donald Trump is being accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his role in the Ukraine scandal, after the Mueller Report did not result in articles of impeachment.
However, while the Whitewater Investigation exonerated Clinton of any wrongdoing, the Mueller Report clearly stated that there was evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, but Justice Department policy prevented him from being charged.
As the process unfolds, both sides make comparisons to both impeachments as it fits their individual narratives. Republicans assert that Clinton was impeached for the crime of perjury, while claiming there is no crime to point to in the Trump impeachment charges.
Democrats counter that Clinton’s impeachment presented no threat to the nation, while Trump tried to use a foreign government to influence an election, a direct threat to our system of government.
Clinton provided evidence, including his own DNA, documents and allowed witnesses to testify during his impeachment hearings. Trump has refused to cooperate with his impeachment, yet Republicans use this as an argument that Democrats have failed to meet their criteria because they lack firsthand testimony.
Any first year law student is familiar with the phrase res ipsa loquitur. It’s a common term in tort cases meaning “the thing speaks for itself”. It is used when there is an obvious connection between the cause and effect of an injury. Trump’s own words and actions should be plainly obvious as a “quid pro quo”, even though Republicans argue that he never said those exact words in his conversation with the Ukrainian President.
The outcomes of both the Clinton and Trump impeachments seem -- or seemed -- to be a foregone conclusion. Clinton was impeached and Trump is almost certain to face the same fate.
What happens next has also been predetermined by a Republican-controlled Senate, which promises a show trial with a predictable outcome. Sadly, it will not follow the same path of fairness that resulted in Clinton’s trial conclusions.