Inside Impeachment—Diary of a Congressman

Congressman Cliff Stearns was fated to play a key role in the 1999 Senate Impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton—and he takes the reader of this revealing book directly into the searing realities of that major historical event.

Formal impeachment trials as we witnessed then with President Bill Clinton—and twice since with President Donald Trump—can become boiling cauldrons of public and institutional controversy.

Partisanship and ideology can also affect attitudes and votes.

Congressman Stearns’s keen insights provide important illumination of this fraught impeachment process.

In 1999—after many days of hearing the House evidence in a formal Senate trial—and the weight of arguments back and forth— would the Senate by a two-thirds vote decide to convict President Clinton—and remove him from office?

Many outside observers supported the impeachment of President Clinton—for his false testimony, under oath, in the earlier “Paula Jones trial”—believing that Clinton—a lawyer himself—had knowingly committed perjury at that trial. Other troubling personal conduct was also explored.

Each Senator had to decide whether the factual case evidence presented reached the ultimate highest legal constitutional standard required: namely a finding of “high crimes and misdemeanors”—and then a two-thirds majority vote for the president’s actual conviction— and removal from office.

When the House impeachment case was formally and fully presented—the full Senate—having served as a 100 member ‘jury’—had to then render its verdict.

And when each Senator’s name was called—it required each one to stand at their desks and publicly announce their individual verdict.

Cliff Stearns’s honest and penetrating first person account in this book brings it all to life.

—Former Senator Don Riegle. Don Riegle had a twenty-eight-year record of service in the US House and Senate. He served his first six years as a Republican and last twenty-two years as a Democrat—changing his party affiliation in January of 1973. He served with seven US Presidents, Johnson through Clinton. He retired from the Senate at the end of 1994.

“The laws of this country are the great barriers that protect the citizens from the winds of evil and tyranny. If we permit one of those laws to fall, who will be able to stand in the winds that follow?”

— Sir Thomas More (Robert Bolt,
A Man for All Seasons)