Two Impeachment Timelines, for No Reason in Particular

Because you might find it interesting—FOR COMPLETELY ACADEMIC REASONS—here is the timeline of the Watergate scandal:

  • May 28th, 1972: Operatives under the direction of the President’s reelection campaign, broke into Watergate Hotel to tap opposition phone lines.
  • June 17th, 1972: Operatives reentered Watergate to repair the tap. Because a security guard noticed doors had been taped so that they would not lock, he called the police. Five men were arrested for burglary.
  • June 19th, 1972: A check meant for Nixon’s campaign was found in a one of the burglar’s accounts. This would implicate the reelection campaign. (I’m not sure this was, in and of itself, illegal in 1972; campaign finance has come a long way. Either way, paying for burglars was.)
  • Around this time, Nixon used presidential power to block the FBI investigation.
  • September 27th, 1972: News broke that the Attorney General controlled the finances for Nixon’s illegal spying ring.
  • February 7th, 1973: Senate investigation begins.
  • March 23rd, 1973: Court proceedings revealed that perjury—lying under oath—had been committed in the initial Watergate trial.
  • April 30th, 1973: Nixon demands the resignation of top aids.
  • July 16th, 1973: The bombshell revelation that Nixon had recorded everything in the West Wing. The special prosecutor subpoenaed the President, which was controversial at the time.
  • October 20th, 1973: The President fired the special prosecutor.
  • November 17th, 1973: Nixon famously declared at a press conference, “I am not a crook”.
  • March 7th to April 18th, 1974: A wave of indictments against former high-level Nixon aides.
  • April 29th, 1974: Nixon releases partial transcripts of his tapes, to mixed reviews.
  • July 24th, 1974: SCOTUS orders the full tapes be given to the special prosecutor.
  • July 27th, 1974: The House Judiciary Committee passed Articles of Impeachment for consideration on the Floor of the House; they were considered likely to pass after debate.
  • August 5th, 1974: The White House releases the “smoking gun” tape that proved that the President was, in fact, a crook.
  • August 7th,  1974: Nixon resigns facing imminent and near certain impeachment.

So yeah, from discovery to resignation took 2 years, 2 months, and 10 days. In case anyone is, you know, counting. If someone were drawing lessons from this, it seems it takes awhile to move against the sitting president.

The only post-War impeachment to actually go down involved Bill Clinton:

  • November 1995: Clinton begins affair with Lewinsky.
  • March 1997: The affair ends.
  • January 13th, 1998: The Drudge Report, of all places, breaks the scandal.
  • January 17th,1998: Clinton is deposed in his other sex scandal, a sexual harrasment case brought by Paula Jones. He is asked about Lewinsky and denies ever having sex with her. The definition of “sex”, which he is shown, will later become an issue.
  • July 28th, 1998: Lewinsky received immunity and handed over the “blue dress” that had DNA evidence of Clinton’s infidelity and, more saliently to what was to come, he had perjured himself in the Jones case.
  • December 19th, 1998: Clinton formally impeached by the House.
  • January 8th, 1999: The Senate trial begins.
  • February 12the, 1999: The trial concludes and Clinton is acquitted.

This one was at least simpler! But it took about a year and a month from the initial perjury to get to a trial, and another month to conclude it.

The common ingredients, again, provided as a total hypothetical, seem to be specific illegal activity combined with sustained controversy.

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