The Presidential Impeachment Controversy
A General Timeline

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Thanks to Beth Beagles, Betsy, Dan Cianci, Meredith Reinecke, Melissa, Maryellen Dougherty, Thomas Loquvam, Chad Evans, Meg Goodman, Maggie Moore, Matt Mundy, Cher Wright, Meg Goodman, Chris Blank, Kayla Hall, Jeremy Metcalf, Beth Lucarelli, Aaron Fallon, and Daniel Ogle for help in preparing this timeline.

 

In the Beginning: Impeachment and the Constitution

20 Jul 1787

Debate in the Constitutional Convention over whether the President may be impeached.

8 Sep 1787

Debate in the Constitutional Convention over the crimes for which the President may be impeached.

1 Feb 1788

James Madison discusses the separation of powers in Federalist Paper no. 48.

8 Feb 1788

Alexander Hamilton or James Madison discusses the system of checks and balances in Federalist Paper no. 51.

7 Mar 1788

Alexander Hamilton discusses impeachment and the public trust in Federalist Paper no. 65.

11 Mar 1788

Alexander Hamilton responds to objections to the idea of impeachment being tried in the Senate in Federalist Paper no. 66.

Andrew Johnson Impeachment

15 Apr 1865

Lincoln assassinated, Johnson sworn in

18 Dec 1865

13th amendment passes

1866

Johnson presents reconstruction plan to Congress, basically Lincoln's plan with two minor changes. Grants many pardons to southern states, Congress becomes unhappy.

27 Mar 1866

Johnson vetoes Civil Rights Bill.

6 Apr 1866

Senate overrides veto

9 Apr 1866

House overrides veto

Jul 1866

Johnson vetoes Freedmen's Bureau Bill

Aug 1866

Johnson openly attacks Republican party in Congress and House in two speeches.

7 Jan 1867

James Ashley of Ohio offers first resolution of impeachment

1867

At least 5 more impeachment attempts fail for lack of evidence.

5 Aug 1867

Johnson attempts to remove Secretary of War William Stanton from Cabinet.

12 Dec 1867

Johnson informs Senate he has suspended Stanton.

13 Jan 1868

Senate refuses to concur with Johnson in removal of Stanton.

21 Feb 1868

Johnson removes Stanton without Senate approval.

24 Feb 1868

Andrew Johnson is officially impeached by 39th Congress.

29 Feb 1868

House presents ten articles of impeachment.

2 Mar 1868

Nine of ten articles of impeachment are passed by House:

***phrase high crimes refers to the level of the offender, not the level of crimes committed.

3 Mar 1868

Two more articles of impeachment passed by House.

Mar 1868

Trial begins in the Senate, presided over by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase

16 May 1868

First vote to convict; 36 votes needed for 2/3rds majority, vote is 35-19.

26 May 1868

Johnson is acquitted completely. Congress abandons impeachment proceedings.

The Watergate Controversy

5 Nov 1968

Richard Milhous Nixon elected President

17 Jun 1972

Five burglars break into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC,

15 Sep 1972

Indictments proceed against the burglars and two Nixon confederates linked to the burglary, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt.

Nov 1972

Nixon re-elected.

8 Jan 1973

Watergate break-in trial begins. Five plead guilty.

7 Feb 1973

Senate establishes Watergate committee.

6 Apr 1973

White House counsel John Dean begins cooperating with federal Watergate prosecutors.

30 Apr 1973

The resignations of Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and Nixon aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman are announced by the White House. John Dean is fired.

18 May 1973

Archibald Cox is appointed special prosecutor for the Watergate case by Attorney General Elliott Richardson.

25 Jun 1973

In testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee, Dean outlines a political espionage program conducted by the White House and says Nixon was participating in the Watergate cover-up within a few days of the burglary.

16 Jul 1973

The tape recording system in Nixon's office is revealed by former White House aide Alexander P. Butterfield.

26 Jul 1973

Following Nixon's refusal to turn over the White House tapes, the Senate Watergate Committee subpoenas several of them.

29 Aug 1973

Judge John J. Sirica orders Nixon to give up nine tapes for the judge's private review. It is the first loss in Nixon's fight to maintain control of the tapes.

20 Oct 1973

The "Saturday Night Massacre." Cox is fired as special Watergate prosecutor. Elliot Richardson resigns as attorney general, and William Ruckelshaus is fired as deputy attorney general.

1 Nov 1973

Nixon appoints Leon Jaworski as the new special prosecutor.

1 Mar 1974

An indictment is returned against seven former presidential aides in connection with the Watergate cover-up. Nixon is named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

9 May 1974

Impeachment hearings are begun by the House Judiciary Committee.

24 Jul 1974

In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court orders Nixon to surrender the tapes to Jaworski.

27 Jul 1974

The House Judiciary Committee votes 27-11 to approve an impeachment article that that charges Nixon with obstructing justice. Approval of two other articles follows.

5 Aug 1974

Nixon releases transcripts of three conversations with Haldeman six days after the break-in. The transcripts reveal Nixon ordered the FBI to abandon its investigation of the break-in, fearing such an investigation would reveal the involvement of the campaign.

7 Aug 1974

Three senior Republicans in Congress meet with Nixon, advise him that his chances of avoiding impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate were "gloomy."

9 Aug 1974

President Nixon resigns from office rather than face certain impeachment in the House of Representatives.

8 Sep 1974

Ford pardons Nixon "for all offenses against the United States which he ... has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969, through August 9, 1974."

The Clinton Impeachment Controversy

1979

Bill and Hillary Clinton and Jim and Susan McDougal buy 42 lots along the Whitewater River in Northern Arkansas.

1992

After 13 years of terrible sales, the Clintons sell their remaining interest to the McDougals for $1,000. During the Presidential campaign, the Clintons are scrutinized for improper tax deductions. Campaign committee shows they actually lost $68,000

Nov 1992

Bill Clinton elected President.

20 Jul 1993

Vincent Foster commits suicide. Rumors circulate that his death was not a suicide.

12 Jan 1994

Under pressure, President Clinton asks that a special prosecutor be named to investigate his Whitewater land dealings.

20 Jan 1994

Attorney General Janet Reno selects Robert B. Fiske Jr. as special prosecutor.

Paula Jones Episode

6 May 1994

Paula Jones files a lawsuit alleging Clinton sexually harassed her in a Little Rock, Ark., hotel room three years earlier while she was a state clerk and he was governor.

5 Aug 1994

After reauthorization of the Independent Counsel Act, a panel of three federal appeal court judges appoints former Bush administration Solicitor General Kenneth Starr to take over Fiske's investigation.

September 1994

Newt Gingrich unveils Republican campaign platform known as the "Contract with America". Democrats quickly term it the "Contract on America."

November 1994

Republicans under the leadership of Newt Gingrich pick up 52 seats in the House, gaining a narrow majority. Republicans gain 8 seats in the Senate and 11 Governorships. Republicans take aim at the White House in '96. The Republicans are accompanied by an influx of Christian Right lobbyists and the emergence of right wing talk radio.

December 1994

Assistant Attorney General Webster Hubbell pleads guilty to embezzling from the Rose law firm, where Hillary once worked.

3 Jan 1995

The Democratic majority on the Senate Banking Committee releases a report finding no laws were broken in the Whitewater matter.

104th Congress

4 Jan 1995

104th Congress opens its first session with Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House and Bob Dole as Senate Majority Leader

Whitewater Episode

22 Apr 1995

Starr interviews the Clintons privately concerning Whitewater.

June 1995

Monica Lewinsky joins White House staff as an unpaid intern.

18 July 1995

The Senate Special Whitewater Committee, chaired by Republican Alfonse D'Amato, begins hearings on Whitewater and on Foster's suicide. D'Amato is also a chairman of Republican Bob Dole's

presidential campaign. The hearings last 11 months.

10 August 1995

The House Banking Committee, chaired by Republican Jim Leach of Iowa, finishes its examination and finds no illegalities.

17 August 1995

A grand jury charges James and Susan McDougal and Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker with bank fraud relating to questionable loans.

26 Oct 1995

The Senate Whitewater committee issues 49 subpoenas to federal agencies and others involved in the affair.

December 1995

Monica Lewinsky is given a salaried position in the Office of Legislative Affairs.

12 Dec 1995

White House associate counsel William H. Kennedy III, who worked at the Rose Law Firm, refuses to release subpoenaed notes of a 1993 meeting between administration officials and the president's

lawyers about Whitewater.

20 Dec 1995

The Senate votes along party lines to enforce the subpoena. The next day, the White House drops its claim to attorney-client privilege and releases the notes. They prove vague and do not reveal any

illegality, but contain the phrase "Vacuum Rose law files WWDC Docs subpoena."

4 Jan 1996

Hillary Clinton's billing records from the Rose Law Firm are found on a table in the White House residence book room after two years. Clinton aide Carolyn Huber says she found the bills in August 1995 but didn't realize their significance until coming across them again. The documents include copies of bills for Hillary Clinton's legal work, showing she performed 60 hours of legal work for Madison in 1985 and 1986.

22 Jan 1996

Kenneth Starr subpoenas Hillary Clinton in a criminal probe to determine if records were intentionally withheld. This is the first time a wife of a sitting president has been subpoenaed.

26 Jan 1996

Hillary Clinton testifies before a grand jury about the discovery and content of the billing records.

4 Mar 1996

Whitewater trial of Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) and the McDougals begins in Little Rock.

April 1996

Monica Lewinsky leaves the White House for a position at the Pentagon.

22 Apr 1996

David Hale, the former owner of a government-funded lending company who has pleaded guilty to two felonies, testifies at Whitewater trial that in early 1985 then governor Bill Clinton pressured him to

make a fraudulent $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal and asked that his

name be kept out of the transaction.

28 Apr 1996

Clinton testifies on videotape as a defense witness for just over four hours. He denies Hale's charge. The tape is played to the Whitewater trial jury on May 9.

26 May 1996

Gov. Tucker and the McDougals are convicted of nearly all the fraud and conspiracy charges Starr lodged against them 10 months earlier.

28 May 1996

The White House acknowledges that during four months in late 1993 it wrongly collected FBI background reports on hundreds, including prominent Republicans. Director of personnel security, Craig

Livingstone, later takes responsibility.

17 Jun 1996

"Second" Whitewater trial begins. Arkansas bankers Herby Branscum Jr. and Robert Hill are accused of illegally using bank funds to reimburse themselves for political contributions, including

contributions to Clinton's gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.

18 Jun 1996

The Senate Whitewater committee finishes its investigation. Republicans and Democrats remain divided in their respective reports on whether the Clintons committed any ethical breaches.

7 Jul 1996

President Clinton testifies on tape for the second Whitewater trial.

15 Jul 1996

Jim Guy Tucker resigns as governor of Arkansas.

1617 Jul 1996

Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey, named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Branscum-Hill trial, testifies about his role as the treasurer of Clinton's gubernatorial reelection effort in 1990. He says he never sought to conceal from regulators two large cash withdrawals he ordered.

18 Jul 1996

President Clinton's videotaped testimony from July 7 is aired at the trial. In it, Clinton denies naming the two defendants to unsalaried state posts in exchange for contributions to his 1990 gubernatorial

campaign.

1 Aug 1996

In a major setback for Starr's investigation, Branscum and Hill are cleared on four counts of bank fraud by a federal jury, which deadlocks on seven other charges.

19 Aug 1996

Former governor Tucker receives a suspended four-year sentence after his doctor testifies that he would likely die of liver disease if imprisoned. Tucker is placed under home detention and fined $319,000.

20 Aug 1996

Susan McDougal is sentenced to two years in prison for her role in obtaining an illegal loan for the Whitewater venture.

4 Sep 1996

Susan McDougal, who had considered cooperating with prosecutors, says she doesn't trust them. She enters jail for contempt of court rather than testify in front of a grand jury.

23 Sep 1996

An FDIC inspector general's report concludes Hillary Clinton drafted a real estate document that Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan used to "deceive" federal regulators in 1986.

30 Sep 1996

The General Accounting Office reports that independent Counsels investigating President Clinton and his administration have spent more than $25 million. Starr alone has spent more than $17 million.

5 Nov 1996

President Clinton re-elected.

24 Nov 1996

Clinton's former campaign strategist for the 1992 election, James Carville, announces plans to attack Starr as a partisan hatchet man with a right-wing agenda.

17 Feb 1997

Starr unexpectedly announces he will leave his post as independent counsel in August to become the dean of Pepperdine University Law School in California. After much criticism, Starr reverses his decision four days later and resolves to keep his post until after the investigation is completed.

14 Apr 1997

James B. McDougal is sentenced to three years in prison for his conviction on 18 fraud and conspiracy charges. Starr requested a reduced sentence for McDougal for assisting the prosecution.

22 Apr 1997

The U.S. District Court extends the Whitewater grand jury's term six more months, until Nov. 7, after Starr says he has "extensive evidence" of possible obstruction of justice.

25 Apr 1997

8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, overruling a lower court, says the White House must turn over subpoenaed notes to Starr. The notes, for which the White House claimed attorney-client privilege, were taken by White House lawyers when investigators questioned the First Lady.

2 May 1997

The White House announces that it will appeal the decision on the subpoenaed notes to the Supreme Court.

27 May 1997

The Supreme Court rules Mrs. Jones can pursue her lawsuit while Clinton is in office.

23 Jun 1997

The Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal, and the White House turns over the notes.

25 Jun 1997

The Washington Post reports that Whitewater prosecutors have been questioning Arkansas state troopers about President Clinton's personal life, including possible extramarital affairs he may have had while Arkansas governor.

15 Jul 1997

Starr's office concludes that Vincent Foster's death in 1993 was a suicide.

30 Jul 1997

Susan McDougal, being detained for contempt of court, is moved into a federal detention facility after seven months in two Los Angeles jails, much of which she spent locked in a windowless cell 23 hours a day. The move comes a week after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit alleging that McDougal was being held, at Starr's request, in "barbaric" conditions in an attempt to coerce her to testify.

Monica Lewinsky Episode

5 Dec 1997

Monica Lewinsky named on a list of potential witnesses in Mrs. Jones' lawsuit.

11 Dec 1997

Vernon Jordan meets with Monica Lewinsky about her job search. Later that day, at 5:33 pm, Judge Wright orders Paula Jones has the right to information regarding Federal employees.

19 Dec 1997

Ms. Lewinsky served with subpoena to appear at a deposition for the Jones suit and to turn over gifts from Clinton.

7 Jan 1998

In a sworn affidavit in the Paula Jones case, Monica Lewinsky denies any sexual relationship with the President.

12 Jan 1998

Linda Tripp brings evidence to the independent counsel regarding Monica Lewinsky, including 20 hours of taped conversations.and on

13 Jan 1998

Linda Tripp tapes a conversation with ML in a hotel near Washington for the independent counsel in exchange for immunity.

16 Jan 1998

A federal panel approves Kenneth Starr's investigation into allegations that President Clinton and Vernon Jordan had urged Monica Lewinsky to lie under oath. Prosecutors confront Lewinsky and unsuccessfully seek her cooperation.

17 Jan 1998

President Clinton deposes in the Paula Jones suit and denies any affair with Monica Lewinsky

21 Jan 1998

Existence of Monica Lewinsky investigation made public in Washington Post.

26 Jan 1998

Clinton states to the public, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman I never told anybody to lie.''

27 Jan 1998

Kenneth Starr opens a grand jury inquiry investigating charges Clinton committed perjury and obstruction in the Paula Jones case.

29 Jan 1998

Judge Susan Webber Wright excludes evidence of Monical Lewinsky's relationship with President from Paula Jones trial.

8 Mar 1998

James McDougal dies just months before he hoped to be released from prison.

15 Mar 1998

Former Clinton aide Kathleen Willey appears on "60 Minutes,'' saying Clinton made sexual advance to her in a room next to the Oval Office in 1993.

1 Apr 1998

Judge Wright dismisses Paula Jones suit.

16 Apr 1998

Starr says there is no end in sight to his investigation, and officially declines the Pepperdine job, which was being held open for him.

23 Apr 1998

Susan McDougal, finally serving her two-year fraud sentence after completing her 18-month contempt of court sentence, refuses yet again to testify before Starr's Little Rock grand jury.

25 Apr 1998

Starr and deputies question Hillary Rodham Clinton about Whitewater for nearly five hours at the White House. The testimony is videotaped for the Little Rock grand jury.

30 Apr 1998

A new set of tax evasion and fraud charges is brought against Webster Hubbell.

4 May 1998

Susan McDougal is indicted on charges of criminal contempt and obstruction.

30 May (?) 1998

A federal judge dismisses the tax and fraud charges against Hubbell and criticizes Starr for going on "the quintessential fishing expedition."

6 Aug 1998

Under immunity from prosecution, Ms. Lewinsky testifies for the first time to the grand jury.

17 Aug 1998

President videotapes his deposition before independent counsel grand jury. He acknowledges in a televised speech an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

9 Sep 1998

Starr tells House leaders he has found "substantial and credible information ... that may constitute grounds for impeachment.'' His office delivers 36 boxes holding two copies of his report and the supporting evidence.

11 Sep 1998

The House releases the Kenneth Starr report for public consumption.

8 Oct 1998

House votes to hold an impeachment inquiry.

3 Nov 1998

Democrats pick up five House seats in the election. Exit polls show almost two-thirds of voters don't want Clinton impeached.

13 Nov 1998

Starr brings a third indictment against Hubbell, this one alleging lies to Congress and federal banking regulators. Clinton agrees to pay Mrs. Jones $850,000 to drop her sexual harassment lawsuit, with no apology or admission of guilt on the president's part.

Impeachment Process Begins

19 Nov 1998

During the first day of impeachment hearings, Starr clears Clinton in relation to the firing of White House travel office workers in 1993 and the improper collection of FBI files revealed in 1996. He also says his office drafted an impeachment referral stemming from Whitewater in 1997, but decided not to send it because the evidence was insufficient. Starr defends his investigation under insistent questioning from Democratic lawmakers and the president's private attorney.

20 Nov 1998

Starr's ethics adviser, Sam Dash, resigns, objecting to Starr's testifying in support of impeachment report.

27 Nov 1998

Answering questions from Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., Clinton writes the Judiciary Committee that his testimony in the Lewinsky affair was "not false and misleading.''

89 Dec 1998

The president's lawyers present a two-day defense to the Judiciary Committee that includes testimony from Watergate-era committee members and constitutional scholars.

11 Dec 1998

he committee approves impeachment articles I, II and III, which accuse the president of perjury in the Jones deposition and in his grand jury testimony and obstruction of justice in the Jones case.

12 Dec 1998

Committee approves a fourth article, including charges of perjury regarding Clinton's responses to the 81 questions posed by the committee. The committee rejects a substitute resolution backed by Democrats that would instead censure Clinton for "reprehensible conduct.''

17 Dec 1998

House delays debate on articles of impeachment after the United States launches military strikes against Iraq.

18 Dec 1998

In a highly partisan debate, House begins consideration of articles of impeachment.

19 Dec 1998

President Clinton impeached by the House on articles I and III, perjury before the grand jury and obstruction of justice. Article II, perjury in the Paula Jones suit, and Article IV, abuse of office, are denied. Earlier in the day, the congressman expected to become House speaker in January, Bob Livingston, R-La., announces that after his recent disclosure of sexual affairs he will not seek the post and will soon leave Congress.

20 Dec 1998

The day after Clinton's impeachment, polls show his approval rating continues to rise.

7 Jan 1999

Impeachment trial begins in Senate. Chief Justice William Rehnquist sworn in to preside. He in turn swears in the 100 senators as "triers of fact"..

8 Jan 1999

Senators unanimously agree to rules for trial.

11 Jan 1999

President Clinton answers summons for trial.

12 Jan 1999

House prosecutors file trial brief laying out case.

13 Jan 1999

White House counsel files trial brief denying allegations.

14 Jan 1999

Impeachment trial resumes. House prosecutors begin opening arguments.