Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner says he wishes he’d fought against Bill Clinton’s impeachment by Republicans

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton shakes hands with House Speaker John Boehner at the Inaugural Luncheon in Statuary Hall on Inauguration day at the U.S. Capitol building January 21, 2013 in Washington D.C.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton shakes hands with House Speaker John Boehner at the Inaugural Luncheon in Statuary Hall on Inauguration day at the U.S. Capitol building January 21, 2013 in Washington D.C.

  • John Boehner, the former Republican House Speaker, wrote in his forthcoming memoir that he regrets supporting former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
  • He argued that the impeachment was a political effort by his party to win House seats in the midterms.
  • “I regret it now,” Boehner wrote of Clinton’s impeachment. “I regret that I didn’t fight against it.”
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John Boehner, the former Republican House Speaker, wrote in his forthcoming memoir that he regrets supporting former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, which he said was a purely political effort.

Clinton’s 1998 impeachment for lying about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was orchestrated by Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, the second highest-ranking Republican in the House at the time, Boehner wrote.

“I know what we all said at the time: Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath,” Boehner wrote, according to an excerpt of “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” obtained by The Washington Post and The New York Times. “In my view, Republicans impeached him for one reason and one reason only – because it was strenuously recommended to us by one Tom DeLay.”

He added: “Tom believed that impeaching Clinton would win us all these House seats, would be a big win politically, and he convinced enough of the membership and the GOP base that this was true.”

Clinton’s impeachment didn’t end up helping the GOP in the midterms – the party lost five House seats in 1998.

Boehner concedes that he supported the impeachment effort – the House ultimately impeached Clinton on two charges before the Senate acquitted him – but now regrets it. He added that Clinton likely committed perjury, but that “lying about an affair to save yourself from embarrassment isn’t the same as lying about an issue of national security.”

“I was on board at the time,” Boehner wrote. “I won’t pretend otherwise. But I regret it now. I regret that I didn’t fight against it.”

Boehner takes aim at his own party throughout the book, saving his most scathing criticism for members of the right-wing Tea Party. He called Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, “dangerous” and a “reckless asshole.” And he wrote that former President Donald Trump “incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons, perpetuated by the bullshit he’d been shoveling since he lost a fair election the previous November.”

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McConnell, Graham, and Grassley voted against Bill Clinton in his 1998 impeachment. They just acquitted Trump of inciting an insurrection.

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • The Senate acquitted Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection in his second impeachment trial.
  • Some senators who voted in Trump’s impeachment trial also voted in Clinton’s more than two decades ago.
  • Five current GOP senators who voted to remove Clinton just voted to acquit Trump.
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The Senate acquitted Donald Trump Saturday in the impeachment trial over his role in inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. The vote was largely split along party lines, with all 50 Democrats and seven Republicans voting to convict, and 43 Republicans voting to acquit.

Six of the Republicans who voted for acquittal were also sitting senators in 1999, during the impeachment trial of then-president Bill Clinton. Five of them voted to remove Clinton from office:

  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
  • Chuck Grassley of Iowa
  • Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • Richard Shelby of Alabama
  • Mike Crapo of Idaho

All five voted to convict Clinton of obstruction of justice, while all but Shelby voted to convict him of perjury, or lying under oath. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was also a sitting senator during Clinton’s trial but voted not guilty on both counts. She was among the Republicans who voted to convict Trump.

Read more: Meet the little-known power player with the ‘hardest job’ on Capitol Hill. She’s shaping Trump’s impeachment trial and Joe Biden’s agenda.

The Senate acquittal on Saturday came a month after Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for incitement of insurrection over the Capitol siege, which resulted in multiple deaths and delayed the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Clinton’s impeachment stemmed from his testimony in a sexual harassment case brought on by a woman named Paula Jones, during which he infamously denied having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. An investigation by an independent council ultimately concluded Clinton had committed impeachable offenses in four categories: perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and abuse of power.

The Republican-led House of Representatives brought four articles of impeachment against Clinton in 1998, with two – perjury and obstruction of justice – getting the votes needed to advance to a Senate trial.

Some of the Republicans who were serving in the House then are also senators now.

These are the sitting GOP senators who voted to acquit Trump Saturday, and to impeach Clinton on at least one article when they were members of the House:

  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • John Thune of South Dakota
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi

Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina was also a representative at the time and voted to impeach Clinton. However, in a surprising vote, he was one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump on Saturday.

The latest impeachment trial was Trump’s second. He was first impeached in January 2020 over concerns that he abused his power to interfere in the 2020 election. The House and Senate votes were also along party lines then, with only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voting to convict.

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