Though she has desperately tried to distance herself from her husband’s tainted last name, Hillary will always be a Clinton. Now with the renewed FBI investigation looming overhead she may actually follow Bill’s literal footsteps if she becomes president; a path in which Congress threatens to kick you out of office but never actually goes through with it.
It was December 19, 1998 when then-president Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives during a “lame-duck” session of the outgoing Congress. He was charged with perjury before a grand jury and obstruction of justice after lying about his Monica Lewinsky affair during his testimony in another sexual harassment lawsuit.
As expected, a majority of Republicans and only a handful of Democrats supporting impeachment. Now two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate needed to give their thumbs up to officially go through with the charges.
But in February of 1999 the Senate acquitted Bill Clinton. All 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted not guilty of perjury; all 45 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted not guilty of obstruction of justice. Clinton was set free because conservatives didn’t have a larger control of the upper chamber. It didn’t help their case that a couple of sympathizers from their side of the aisle decided to jump ship.
Almost twenty years later Hillary Clinton faces a different set of circumstances but a similar impeachment threat. Last week congressman Jason Chaffetz of the House Oversight Committee said he was already warming up for “two years’ worth” of investigations should Clinton become president. Yesterday the Republican nominee Donald Trump himself said that electing Hillary Clinton would “create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis.” Both are hoping that Republicans will keep control of the House.
This time, however, Democrats have a big opportunity to take back the Senate. FiveThirtyEight currently gives them a 68.4 percent chance of winning control. That probability has remained largely unchanged since mid-October. Democrats only need to win five additional seats to get control — four if Tim Kaine becomes Vice President — and they already have an advantage because more than twice as many Republican than Democratic seats are up for grabs this year.
What that means is that even if a Republican-controlled House decides to impeach Hillary Clinton upon her arrival to the Oval Office there is no way a Democratic-controlled Senate will satisfy the two-thirds vote needed to approve the charges. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, will be a free president.
So for those voters who have asked from the beginning, will this just be another Clinton presidency? Perhaps, though not for any reason we expected. It seems far more than economic policy or establishment ties, that is the true curse of being a Clinton — leading a government that almost didn’t want you.
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