As Trump Impeachment Talk Grows, 20th Anniversary Of Clinton Trial Nears

Feb 8, 2019

Some Democratic activists are pushing House leaders to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump. 

A group called Need to Impeach has gone so far as to run TV ads targeting Massachusetts Congressman Richie Neal, the new chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

It just so happens the last presidential impeachment trial wrapped up 20 years ago this Tuesday. Bill Clinton was acquitted in the Senate thanks to support from New England Democrats, as well as some Republicans.

These days there is only one Republican from the region in the Senate. But the GOP held half of New England's Senate seats back in 1999 during the impeachment trial.

Among them was John Chafee of Rhode Island. 

"This has been a very very tough case to decide. It hasn't been easy," Chafee said in a press conference the day before the vote. "Overshadowing all has been the president's reckless, tawdry behavior -- coupled with misleading statements that have undermined the dignity of the presidency and brought about a divisive and unpleasant chapter in our history."

Still, Chafee voted not guilty on both articles of impeachment.

Like all Democrats from New England, Vermont's Patrick Leahy voted not guilty. But Leahy was not celebrating the outcome.

"Nobody won on this, except for one thing: the Constitution won. But the Constitution is the only thing that won in this," Leahy said at the time.

Senator Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said after the vote that Clinton is a "good person who did some terrible things."

"I was raised to believe you condemn sins and love sinners, and I'm hopeful now we can get beyond this," Dodd said. "You can disagree with his politics and policies, but the name-calling and invective has got to stop."

The only New England senators to vote to convict and remove Clinton from office came from the New Hampshire delegation: Republicans Judd Gregg and Bob Smith.

Lauren Low contributed to this report.