Hours before the House of Representatives was expected to vote to impeach President Donald Trump, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer shared a video clip of former President Bill Clinton addressing the public a few days before his own impeachment vote.
Blitzer, the host of The Situation Room, wrote that the video came from a speech that the 42nd president delivered on December 11, 1998.
“What I want the American people to know, what I want the Congress to know, is that I am profoundly sorry for all I have done wrong in words and deeds,” Clinton said in the clip. “I never should have misled the country, the Congress, my friends or my family. Quite simply, I gave in to my shame.”
Blitzer’s sharing of the video on Wednesday was timely, given that it was the same day that the House would vote on whether or not to impeach another president, Trump. The saga of Trump’s impeachment can be traced back to a July phone call with the president of Ukraine. Trump asked the foreign leader to investigate his likely political opponent in the 2020 presidential election, former President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, who previously sat on the board of a Ukrainian company.
Trump has repeatedly called the phone call “perfect,” but his opponents have charged that his request of the Ukrainian president amounted to asking a foreign power to interfere in American elections. Earlier in December, the House introduced two articles of impeachment against Trump: one for abuse of power for efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens, and another for obstruction of Congress by refusing to fully cooperate with the impeachment process.
Clinton, elected for a second term in 1996, was the second president of the United States to be impeached. The first was President Andrew Johnson, who ascended to the office of chief executive after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. (President Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency before he could be impeached.) Both Johnson and Clinton survived subsequent impeachment trials in the Senate and completed their terms in office.
Johnson’s impeachment stemmed from political disagreements with the so-called “Radical Republicans” during Reconstruction. Clinton’s began with an investigation into his business dealings and eventually came to center on his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The Attorney General tasked independent counsel Kenneth Starr with investigating the Clintons’ real estate investments in the Whitewater Development Corporation. While this investigation turned up no evidence of wrongdoing by the Clintons, in 1998 Starr was granted leeway to broaden his investigation to determine whether or not Clinton had instructed Lewinsky to lie under oath and say that the two of them had not had an affair.
While Clinton continued to deny the affair, evidence of it eventually came to light. He apologized to Congress and the American public, and was impeached under articles of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Almost exactly 21 years later, the 45th president is set to face an impeachment vote in the House of Representatives Wednesday evening. Should the lower chamber vote to impeach the president, Trump will face a trial in the Senate. Similarly to the Clinton impeachment, the majority Republican Senate is expected to find Trump innocent allow him to remain in office.