John A. Quayle blueoval at SGI.NET
Sun Dec 19 22:41:37 MST 1999

The Mandate -

Impeachment Files are Sealed for 50 Years
ed. de Garth

Ref., Lance Gay - Scripps Howard News Service, 12/19/1999

The congressional impeachment files are sealed for 50 years, the furniture
used in the Senate trial is marked with special labels, and the Senate's
historical office is setting aside other impeachment memorabilia to be
shipped to the National Archives next year.
Only a year after the nation was thrown into a constitutional crisis when
the House voted to impeach President Clinton Dec. 19, the long impeachment
saga that ended with the Senate acquittal Feb. 12 is being quickly buried
in the history books.

It's rarely mentioned directly on the campaign trail, where Republican
candidates refer to the fight in passing by talking about restoring the
integrity and grandeur of the presidency. Since February's votes in the
Senate acquitting Clinton, both the president and Congress have sought to
put last winter's confrontation behind them.

But will history be as forgiving?
"Historians will remember him as the first elected president ever to be
impeached, and that will be an indelible stain on his reputation."
historian Arthur Schlesinger said.

Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached, in 1868, had been
elevated to the White House from vice president after the assassination of
Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House
ratified a committee's move to impeach him.
Schlesinger says he doubts the Clinton impeachment saga will result in
anything like the backlash that followed Johnson's impeachment: a
half-century of weak presidents and what Woodrow Wilson called
"congressional government."

"Around the margin there has been some reduction in authority,"
Schlesinger said. But "there's not a dramatic shift as there was after
Andrew Johnson."

Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who led a four-year, $47 million
investigation of Clinton, said he also doesn't see any shift of Washington
powers resulting from the fight or lasting damage that can't be corrected
by a strong future president. "Very few of our actions will have
irreparable effects on strong institutions," he said.

Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the managers of the impeachment trial
in the Senate, disagrees and points to court decisions made in the months
before the fight in Congress that rearranged Washington's power structures.

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