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The Trial Of William Jefferson Clinton. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 05, 2020 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: The following is a CNN Special Report.
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BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've been watching events never witnessed by anyone living.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought this is the most perilous moment we have faced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House is the bully pulpit, but it should never be occupied by a bully.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prevented, obstructed and impeded justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked her directly if she had had sexual relationships with the President.
MONICA LEWINSKY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN: I probably blushed or giggled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Betrayed his trust as President.
CLINTON: I never told anybody to lie, not a single time. Never.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man had lied to me, to my face and then sent me out to lie to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That none of us is above the law is a bedrock principle of democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is not, should he stay? What if he stays?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it the best thing for the country to remove this person from office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I put my head in my hands, and I felt just how much can this country take?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is easily the most important vote you will ever cast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the respondent, William Jefferson Clinton, guilty or not guilty?
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Midway through President Bill Clinton's second term, 100 U.S. senators gathered to determine if the 42nd President of the United States was guilty or not guilty of impeachable offenses.
Their decision would either keep him office or send him away in shame.
The trial of William Jefferson Clinton was the first presidential impeachment trial in 130 years, only the second in U.S. history. And it began then, just as the next one will after months of posturing, threats and dramatic gestures from the opposing sides.
The result was a unique moment in time, shrouded in partisanship and steeped in history.
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FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: We are awaiting a historic day that begins here.
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BLITZER (voice over): It was January 7, 1999.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As they leave the House chamber in somewhat solemn procession.
BLITZER (voice over): And for these U.S. Members of Congress, it was a small walk with big significance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming across to the United States Senate.
BILL MCCOLLUM (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: I thought this was going to be a real experience because House members just don't go on the Senate floor.
BLITZER (voice over): House members were headed to the Senate floor because the U.S. Constitution dictates that only House members can impeach a President and only senators can host an impeachment trial and vote to remove him.
MCCOLLUM: It was a very big deal to be, you know, managing an impeachment trial. BLITZER (voice over): Then Congressman, Bill McCollum had been named
a House manager for the trial. Meaning, he would help make the case against the President.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Prosecution is actually done by Members of the House of Representatives, House managers, they're called. Back in 1999, there were 13 of them.
BLITZER (voice over): Once on the Senate side --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate would come to order.
BLITZER (voice over): There was an official convening of the trial.
JAMES ZIGLAR, FORMER SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. All persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, Articles of Impeachment against William Jefferson Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The managers on the part of the House will be received and escorted to the well of the Senate.
BLITZER (voice over): Then, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was sworn in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pleased to welcome you.
BISKUPIC: Chief Justice William Rehnquist presided because the Constitution states that when a President is impeached, the Chief Justice presides.
STROM THURMOND (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You are to do impartial justice, according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God.
WILLIAM REHNQUIST, FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE: I do.
BISKUPIC: Then he administered an oath to all 100 senators.
REHNQUIST: Do you solemnly swear --
BISKUPIC: Who then proceeded to come up and sign an oath book. It's all very formal, very dramatic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Finegold.
RUSS FEINGOLD (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: When I took that oath, I thought this is serious. This is a sacred oath under our nation's laws. And I felt that it was essential that I -- that I listen to the House managers and see if they had a case.
BLITZER (voice over): Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin says he began the trial, undecided and open minded.
FEINGOLD: I felt that was my absolute obligation.
BLITZER (voice over): All of the solemnity and pageantry stood in stark contrast to the tawdriness that triggered the trial.
A trial that would not have happened without independent counsel, Ken Starr.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Kenneth Starr was appointed to investigate Whitewater, which was a land deal in which the Clintons had invested and went bad. And there were questions about whether the Clinton's exercised any sort of improper influence.
BLITZER (voice over): Over time, Starr's inquiry expanded to include smaller Clinton scandals.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ken Starr investigated Whitewater, Travelgate, file gate --
BLITZER (voice over): They never turned into a case against the President until --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: The President had had this issue with Paula Jones.
BLITZER (voice over): Paula Jones was an Arkansas State employee you accused Clinton of sexually harassing her while he was governor.
BORGER: Paula Jones accused him of exposing himself to her in a hotel room and it was a civil case.
And so there was the question of whether a President could actually waste his time as it were, if you're his lawyers, that's what you thought being sued in a civil case.
And the courts decided that in fact he could. So the Paula Jones attorneys were going to depose Bill Clinton, and in doing so, a Federal judge said to them, you can look for a pattern of indiscretion.
BLITZER (voice over): The ruling allowed the Jones' lawyers to ask the President about a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.
TOOBIN: And when he did give that deposition, he was asked about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and in simple terms, he lied about it
CLINTON: I never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her.
BLITZER (voice over): Ken Starr believe the President had perjured himself during the Jones deposition, a crime.
CLINTON: These allegations are false.
BLITZER (voice over): So he got permission from the Justice Department to question the President about it in front of a Federal grand jury. Again, Mr. Clinton wasn't fully truthful, and that led to this.
HENRY HYDE (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: I will now read the Articles of Impeachment. House Resolution 611 resolved that William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that the following Articles of Impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate.
The article One, William Jefferson Clinton willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony to the grand jury --
TOOBIN: The strategy of the House managers was really very straightforward. Bill Clinton testified under oath. He lied. Lying under oath is a crime. That's a crime that is a high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution.
HYDE: Article two. In his conduct while President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton has prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.
JOHN KING, CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The House case against the President on obstruction of justice was based on the fact that he met with a number of people, seemed to be trying to make sure everybody's stories were on the same page.
So there was an allegation, for example, well-documented that he met with his personal Secretary Betty Currie, and essentially was leading her, I was never alone with Monica, right? You were always there, right?
BLITZER (voice over): But did any of the allegations against the President, even if true amount to what the founders termed high crimes and misdemeanors?
GREG CRAIG, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: The phrase that is in the Constitution that provides for an impeachment and removal of the President is focused on abuse of governmental power.
The purpose of the impeachment clause is not to punish Presidents for past misconduct.
One of our arguments in the Clinton impeachment was, although President Clinton's conduct was Miss Lewinsky might have been wrong, and blameworthy and something that you could disapprove of intensely, there was no abuse of the presidential power. There's no threat to the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we're getting very close --
JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: I think when people look back on it, they say, oh, that was a partisan exercise and a foregone conclusion. That's wrong. It was not a foregone conclusion at the beginning. It would have been remarkable if the dam had broken, but there was plenty -- there were plenty of warning signs that it could happen. BLITZER (voice over): To happen, the House managers would need to
sway 12 Democrats to get to 67. The two-thirds needed to remove a President from office.
MCCOLLUM: I really don't think any of the impeachment managers thought we were going to get the President removed from office and get 67 votes.
BLITZER (voice over): Unless --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House is pushing for witnesses though --
MCCOLLUM: We were hopeful we could persuade the Senate to let us have live witnesses.
ASA HUTCHINSON (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: Live witnesses is the only way you could move the mood and the attitude and the convictions of the American public.
And that's the only way you move the United States Senate.
BLITZER (voice over): The hope was alive because there was a lack of established rules.
TOOBIN: One of the important things to remember about impeachment trials in the Senate is that the Senate makes its own rules.
FEINGOLD: Would there be live witnesses? Would there be open debate about the charges? Would there be closed debate? None of these things were terribly clear.
BLITZER (voice over): So the senators decided to meet without cameras to hammer out the rules. Eventually, they agreed to some, but left the difficult issue of witnesses for down the road.
Opening arguments would finally get underway a full week after first gaveling to order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almighty God, we ask you for a special measure of wisdom for the women and men of this Senate as they act as jurors in this impeachment trial.
BLITZER (voice over): Two days earlier, President Clinton sent Paula Jones an $850,000.00 check. It was part of a deal he made months earlier to settle the case without admitting wrongdoing.
Up next, the House managers make their case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not about sex. This is about obstruction of justice.
LOCKHART: I think there was a feeling, like, boy, I hope our guys are ready for this.
BLITZER (voice over): Thursday, January 14th, 1999. The Republican Congressmen, the House impeachment managers began three days of arguments laying out their case against President Bill Clinton.
ED BRYANT (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: Every trial must have a beginning and this trial begins on a cold day in January 1993.
BLITZER (voice over): Clinton's first inauguration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you please raise your right hand and repeat after me? I, William Jefferson Clinton do solemnly swear ...
CLINTON: I, William Jefferson Clinton do solemnly swear ...
BRYANT: And as we progress throughout the day, I would ask that you be reminded of the importance of this oath.
BLITZER (voice over): An oath that House manager said President Clinton violated by lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice.
BORGER: Their arguments were not a surprise because the arguments have been the same in the House.
JIM SENSENBRENNER (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: Failure to bring President Clinton to account will cause a cancer to be present in our society for generations.
LOCKHART: For the staff, that first day was pretty rough. They laid out a pretty tough case, and I think there was a feeling like boy, I hope our guys are ready for this.
HUTCHINSON: Mr. Chief Justice, Senators. I'm Asa Hutchinson, a Member of Congress from the third congressional district of Arkansas.
BLITZER (voice over): Asa Hutchinson from President Clinton's home state.
HUTCHINSON: These acts of obstruction included attempts to improperly influence a witness in a Civil Rights case.
BLITZER (voice over): Lewinsky was deposed as part of the Federal civil rights lawsuit brought by former Arkansas State employee, Paula Jones.
Jones alleged then Governor Clinton had her transferred after she spurned his sexual advances.
HUTCHINSON: The procurement and filing of a false affidavit in the case --
BLITZER (voice over): Representative Hutchinson took the senators through obstruction of justice allegations step by step, including President Clinton playing a role in his Secretary Betty Currie, retrieving and putting under her bed the gifts the President had given to Monica Lewinsky, after Lewinsky and received a subpoena from Paula Jones's attorneys requiring the gifts be produced as possible evidence.
HUTCHINSON: Betty Currie, a subordinate employee would not engage in such activity on such a sensitive matter without the approval and direction of the President himself.
She retrieved these items and where doe she place them? She hides them under her bed, significantly a place of concealment.
FEINGOLD: I remember going into a break in the desert critic caucus cloakroom and the new senator, John Edwards came over to me and said in his charming way, Russ, what do you think about how the House managers are doing?
And I said, I think they're doing pretty well. And John said to me, so do I.
HUTCHINSON: Listen to the President addressing the American people on the subject of his credibility.
CLINTON: I want you to listen to me, I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, and not a single time, never.
BLITZER (voice over): Repeating the claim he'd made nine days earlier in his deposition for the Jones case.
KING: He just flat out denied it. And I said, whoa, careful, careful, careful. He said relations. He didn't say sex. And so I remember that day just thinking what the hell did that mean?
PAUL BEGALA, FORMER COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: When he likes the country, he lied to me. I then repeated those lies -- that's as a very big deal.
JAMES ROGAN (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: When President Clinton was asked during his grand jury testimony eight months later, how he could have sat silently at his earlier deposition while his attorney made the false statement that there is no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form to Judge Wright.
The President first said that he was not paying a great deal of attention to Mr. Bennett's comments.
QUESTION: Your next statement is a completely false statement, whether or not Mr. Bennett knew of your relationship with Miss. Lewinsky -- the statement that there was no sex of any kind, in any manner, shape or form with the President Clinton, was an utterly false statement, is that correct?
CLINTON: It depends upon what the meaning of the word "is" is. If "is" means is and never has been, that is not -- that's one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.
KING: If you'd covered Bill Clinton for a long period of time, your alarms went off when he started playing tense games. There is no sexual relationship. What does that mean? Does that mean there was no or there is no. Does that mean today? Does that mean now?
BLITZER (voice over): When that day's trial session ended, the House managers then took their case to the court of public opinion.
HUTCHINSON: If you're going to win the day, you have to communicate with the American public as well. And so the managers would be going on media in the evening and then doing late night work sessions.
BLITZER (voice over): The next day, Congressman Bill McCollum address the senators.
MCCOLLUM: These impeachment proceedings aren't before you because of one or two lies about a sexual relationship. This is not about sex. This is about obstruction of justice.
MCCOLLUM (on camera): There was a pattern of obstructing justice. You see we had Monica Lewinsky at that point very supportive of what we were doing. She was more than agreeable at that juncture. And so he had -- we know coached her to do an affidavit that was false that was submitted to the Paul Jones court.
BLITZER (voice over): McCollum hammered home the point.
MCCOLLUM: He lied when he said he wasn't paying attention. He lied when he said he told Monica Lewinsky, she should turn over the gifts and he lied when he told the grand jury he only told the truth to his White House aides.
MCCOLLUM (on camera): You could see that he had planned to obstruct justice, tampering with witnesses, tampering with evidence, not just himself lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
BLITZER (voice over): On their third and final day, House managers urged senators to convict and remove President Clinton.
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: But I would suggest to you ladies and gentlemen of the Senate that if you believe he is a perjurer, that he obstructed justice in a civil rights lawsuit. The question is not should he stay? What if he stays?
BLITZER (voice over): The House managers had presented a very strong case against the President.
KING: I remember clearly being told by people at the White House, wow. That was good. They were good. They were powerful. That was a great presentation. They sold it on television. And they had this moment of step back saying, whoa, we need to worry about this, and we better be able to answer it.
LOCKHART: We were all a little worried because the House managers had done better than we thought they were going to do.
BLITZER (voice over): Next --
KING: Dale Bumpers just get up and said, essentially, you know, [bleep].
BLITZER (voice over): The President's defense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see or hear somebody say, this is not about sex, it's about sex.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye.
BLITZER (voice over): On Tuesday, January 19th. Just before 1:00 p.m., President Bill Clinton's lawyers took on the House prosecutors' impeachment case.
BEGALA: They were the best lawyers in America. That was our team. So it's like you look up and you have the dream team here. You know, I've got LeBron James. And just James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Chuck Ruff was White House counsel. He had a brilliant opening statement.
BLITZER (voice over): Ruff opened on a humble note.
CHARLES RUFF, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL DURING CLINTON TRIAL: There is no one who does not feel the weight of this moment.
BLITZER (voice over): Then struck a harsher tone.
RUFF: The managers have constructed out of sealing wax and string and spiders webs a theory that would lend to a series of otherwise innocuous and indeed, exculpatory events, a dark and sinister cast.
LOCKHART: It's a perfect pitch. He managed to criticize the President for his behavior, but to put into context what the Senate was debating.
RUFF: You are free to criticize him to find his personal conduct distasteful. But ask whether this is the moment when for the first time in our history, the actions of a President have so put at risk the government the framers created that there is only one solution.
BLITZER (voice over): Ruff had set the stage for the defense arguments, but that would have to wait until the next day. This night was reserved for the President's State of the Union address.
LOCKHART: The idea that the defense would open their arguments on the day of the State of the Union, I think to people on the outside would think, oh my God, that's the most bizarre thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President of the United States.
BLITZER (voice over): Bizarre and nerve wracking. Everyone wondered if the comeback kid could rise up from the impeachment scandal to address the nation.
CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you.
LOCKHART: The President dove into that speech.
CLINTON: This year, our deficit is projected to be $10 billion and heading lower.
LOCKHART: I've never seen him more engaged.
CLINTON: We can unite a diverse people in freedom and mutual respect. We are many. We must be one.
BORGER: There is no way that Republicans could not stand up and applaud that along with Democrats. It was very important for the American public to see that Bill Clinton was still doing his job.
BEGALA: The ratings by the way went up over time, people were like calling their friends saying, hey, you've got to check this out.
CLINTON: Ladies and gentlemen, the State of our Union is strong.
BEGALA: And he knocked it out of the park, standing ovations during an impeachment trial.
BLITZER (voice over): The next day, Clinton's dream team was back on deck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought we nailed it every day.
BLITZER (voice over): Attorney Gregory Craig was the President's designated quarterback during the trial. Craig launched a point by point attack on the perjury charges against the President arguing against the assertion that Clinton allowed his lawyer, Robert Bennett to unknowingly make false statements to the Judge in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.
House managers replayed a now infamous excerpt from Clinton's August 1998 grand jury appearance.
QUESTION: The statement that 'there is no sex of any kind, in any manner, shape or form with President Clinton" was an utterly false statement. Is that correct?
CLINTON: It depends upon what the meaning of the word is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may find it frustrating. You may find it irritating when you watch him do this. But he is not committing perjury. He is committing the offense of nitpicking and arguing with the prosecutors.
BLITZER (voice over): Craig wrapped with a strongly worded plea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you convict and remove President Clinton on the basis of these allegations, no President of the United States will ever be safe from impeachment again and it will happen.
BLITZER (voice over): Deputy White House counsel, Cheryl Mills followed Craig.
KING: I thought it was a calculated decision to put Cheryl Mills on the team. The way he treated a young White House intern, to have a young woman attorney come in and fight for him was a critical part of the White House defense strategy.
BLITZER (voice over): Mills arguing against the House's obstruction of justice charges. One of those was the Clinton had instructed his secretary, Betty Currie to retrieve the gift she had given to Monica Lewinsky trying to keep them out of the Paula Jones case.
CHERYL MILLS, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL IN CLINTON TRIAL: Why does she agree to hold the box of gifts for Miss Lewinsky? Because she's a friend. And that is not obstruction of justice.
BLITZER (voice over): And Mills fought back on the House prosecutors' assertion that this was a civil rights case.
MILLS: This President's record on civil rights, on women's rights, on all of our rights is unimpeachable. I can assure you that your decision to follow the facts and acquit this President will not shake the foundation of the House of Civil Rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a home run. It was very powerful. At the end of the second day, the momentum had shifted entirely.
BLITZER (voice over): The third and final day saw arguments from two more of the President's defense team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Presiding Officer recognizes Mr. Counsel, Kendall.
DAVID KENDALL, CLINTON IMPEACHMENT ATTORNEY: They told you that they had painted a picture with circumstantial evidence. I think what they've in fact done is given you a Rorschach test.
BLITZER (voice over): The final defense attorney was revered Senator Dale Bumpers.
DALE BUMPERS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY DURING CLINTON TRIAL: I know a lot of people thought you were rid of me once and for all.
BEGALA: I went around in the White House and had made sure all the TVs were on, made sure all the young people were watching because Bumpers was from a different era.
BUMPERS: If you have difficulty because of an intense dislike of the President, rise above it. He is not the issue. He will be gone. You won't.
KING: His job was to just pull the reset lever. The Republican argument had been this is not about sex. And so Dale Bumpers just got up and said essentially, you know, bullshit.
BUMPERS: H.L. Mencken said one time when you hear somebody say, this is not about money, it's about money. And when you hear somebody say, this is not about sex, it's about sex.
None of us is perfect. But I can tell you this. The punishment of removing Bill Clinton from office would pale compared to the punishment he has already inflicted on himself.
BEGALA: It was a masterclass in summing up a legal case.
BLITZER (voice over): Clinton's defense team had wrapped their case. And in Los Angeles, Monica Lewinsky boarded a plane headed to Washington.
Coming up --
QUESTION: And for the record, would you state your name once again.
KING: They knew it was Hail Mary time.
MCCOLLUM: The House definitely holds to the position that we should call witnesses.
KENDALL: What would the witnesses add?
ASA HUTCHINSON (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: The need for witnesses is so basic and fundamental to our truth seeking system of justice in this country.
GREG CRAIG, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON (on camera): We didn't know whether there were going to be live witnesses, whether there would be any witnesses.
CRAIG: We're not afraid of witnesses. But we do want fairness.
KING: The big uncertainty was, is Monica Lewinsky going to be a live witness? Is she going to be sitting there in the well of the Senate on national television, on global television saying those things?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): I never expected to feel this way about him and I'm not kidding you.
KING: And if that happened, would the Democrats stay with the President?
JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: We were worried and we had reason to worry. Byrd was the one that in some ways we were most worried about because he was the President's harshest critic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to very briefly intrude on the question and answer period here to bring you some news that we've just gotten.
BLITZER (voice over): Friday, January 22nd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a statement we've received from U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat from West Virginia.
BLITZER (voice over): Robert Byrd, widely respected on both sides of the aisle, announced his plan to bring a vote to end the trial altogether.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says witnesses won't add anything.
MCCOLLUM: We really thought he would be the one Democrat who would support witnesses and might be the most likely Democrat to vote to remove. When he did that it took away that hope all together.
BLITZER (voice over): But that didn't stop House managers from pursuing their star witness.
QUESTION: Monica, how do you feel about possibly having to testify?
BLITZER (voice over): The day after Byrd announced this plan, Lewinsky returned to Washington ordered by a Federal judge to meet with House managers.
QUESTION: What will you be asking Monica? How long will you be in there?
BLITZER (voice over): Congressman Ed Bryant, Bill McCollum, and Asa Hutchinson.
HUTCHINSON: I was in the pre interview with Monica Lewinsky, which I will never forget.
MCCOLLUM: We agreed to meet a Sunday evening at the Mayflower in a suite.
HUTCHINSON: She came in there with about three lawyers and I've never seen somebody more prepared.
MCCOLLUM: I must say she was charming.
HUTCHINSON: She was smart.
MCCOLLUM: She was very open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here come the managers now. Bill McCollum is the one who was coming to the microphone to talk with us.
MCCOLLUM (on camera): I was the lead on this, so we went down and press availability was outside the Mayflower. I said very little. I just said we'd had a very good meeting --
MCCOLLUM: ... with Monica Lewinsky. We found her to be a very personable and impressive young woman. And we found that that she might be a very helpful witness to the Senate, if she's called.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Chair recognizes the Senator from West Virginia.
ROBERT BYRD (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Mrt. Chief Justice, I send a motion in writing to the desk.
BLITZER (voice over): The following day, Senator Byrd follow through on his plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senator from West Virginia, Mr. Byrd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moves that the impeachment proceedings against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, be and the same are duly dismissed.
BLITZER (voice over): Senators would not come to a vote of the motion that day, but the following afternoon, they would finally address the issue they had long been avoiding.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), FORMER MAJORITY LEADER: We are now prepared to hear arguments regarding the subpoenaing of witnesses and the taking of their depositions.
HUTCHINSON: They first said, well, show us your three most important witnesses. If we were going to have three witnesses, who would they be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The three people that the prosecutors would like to depose are in fact Vernon Jordan, Sidney Blumenthal, and Monica Lewinsky.
KING: They knew it was Hail Mary time that if you were going to remove the President from office, the only way to do that was to just have a tornado moment. And that tornado moment would have been Monica Lewinsky sitting there as a live witness.
BLITZER (voice over): Hours later, January 27th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment.
BLITZER (voice over): Both motions came to a vote. Up first, the motion to dismiss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote the yeas are 44, the nays are 56. The motion is not agreed to. BLITZER (voice over): The trial would go on. But the vote counts
sent a powerful message on the state of play.
TOOBIN: Senator Byrd's motion show that there was absolutely no way there were 67 votes to convict Clinton.
BLITZER (voice over): But there was some good news for the prosecution, two. Witnesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate was voted no to dismiss this case. And yes, to have these three witnesses.
BLITZER (voice over): The so-called crossover vote on both measures, the Democratic senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold.
RUSS FEINGOLD (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I thought if I depositions could be taken that would at least give us some opportunity to judge the credibility of the charges against the President, which included obstruction of justice.
BLITZER (voice over): The senators decided that did not require live testimony, instead, witness depositions would be videotaped, and excerpts played on the Senate floor.
QUESTION: Bob Franken, what's the significance of that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, huge significance actually, because this now reenters drama into the Senate trial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the record, would you state your name once again? Your full name.
MONICA LEWINSKY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN: Yes, Monica Samille Lewinsky.
TOOBIN: Monica Lewinsky had become one of the most famous people in the entire United States. But no one had seen her give an interview, and so there was intense curiosity.
LEWINSKY: To the best of my memory --
BLITZER (voice over): House prosecutors replay over a dozen exchanges from Lewinsky's deposition --
QUESTION: Prior to being on the witness list, you both spoke about denying this relationship, if asked.
LEWINSKY: Yes. That was discussed.
QUESTION: Did the President ever tell you, cautioned you that you had to tell the truth in an affidavit?
LEWINSKY: Not that I recall.
TOOBIN: The key point about Lewinsky's testimony was not about her sexual relationship with the President. The key point was Clinton never told her to lie.
LEWINSKY: He didn't discuss the content of my affidavit with me at all, ever.
TOOBIN: Once she said that didn't happen. That really made her value to the prosecution very small.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It definitely undercut the argument that the President was involved in some kind of major conspiracy or obstruction of justice.
BLITZER (voice over): The testimonies of Jordan and Blumenthal would prove even less impactful to the prosecution's case on obstruction.
QUESTION: Was your assistance to Miss Lewinsky, which you've described in any way dependent upon her doing anything whatsoever in the Paula Jones case?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
QUESTION: The President never told you that he was not being truthful with you in that January 21st conversation about Monica Lewinsky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never spoke to me about that at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I listened carefully, but the one that sort of was decisive for me was the deposition of Monica Lewinsky.
The Monica Lewinsky deposition gave me the information I needed to know whether I really thought the President was intending to obstruct justice.
BLITZER (voice over): Next --
KING: It was kind of a surreal environment.
BLITZER: The final vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Abraham, guilty. Mr. Akaka, Mr. Akaka, not guilty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almighty God, guide the senators today as they move closer to the completion of this impeachment trial and confront --
BLITZER (voice over): February 8, 1999 began with a prayer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
BLITZER (voice over): As the Senate approach the end of the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton.
LOCKHART: The President is a spiritual, somewhat religious person. I would say the first lady is a full-on religious person.
So I think there are a lot of people in the building relying on their faith.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here ye, hear ye, hear ye.
BLITZER (voice over): Closing arguments would begin afternoon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Chair recognizes Mr. Manager McCollum.
BLITZER (voice over): First up, the Republican House managers.
MCCOLLUM: I was very hopeful that maybe we would persuade one or two.
HUTCHINSON: It was the president that knew he had a dangerous relationship with Miss Lewinsky.
HUTCHINSON (on camera): There was a lot of unknowns as to how individual senators would vote. So we were making the strongest case we could for each individual senator.
JIM SENSENBRENNER (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: An ordinary citizen who lies under oath four times to a grand jury is subject to substantial time in a Federal prison.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Here we are at the end of this very solemn exercise, and this was the last chance for the House managers to make their case.
STEVE CHABOT (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: Will moral fortitude or political expediency rule the day?
KING: We weren't sure of the exact math at that moment. And my take always was, you know, never rule out a surprise trap door, because we had just walked through so many of them or walked into so many of them.
CHARLES CANADY (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: He swore to God to tell the truth, and then he lied.
BLITZER (voice over): While more than a half a dozen House managers came out swinging against President Clinton. One man came to his defense as he had the whole time. White House counsel, Charles Ruff.
CHARLES RUFF, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: William Jefferson Clinton is not guilty of the charges that have been brought against him.
BLITZER (voice over): By now he no doubt knew there were not enough votes to convict his client, but he would leave nothing to chance.
RUFF: He did not commit perjury. He did not commit obstruction of justice. He must not be removed from office. Thank you very much.
BLITZER (voice over): The Republicans would get the last word. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: The White
House is the bully pulpit, but it should never be occupied by a bully.
HENRY HYDE (R), HOUSE MANAGER DURING CLINTON TRIAL: There's an old Italian saying says you may dress the shepherd in silk, he will still smell of the goat.
BLITZER (voice over): And then --
LOTT: I now move the doors for final deliberations to be closed and ask consent that the yeas and nays be vitiated.
BLITZER (voice over): For the next three days, the very public process became very private.
BLITZER: What's happening on the Senate floor behind closed doors?
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the mood is a little bit more mellow because the TV lights are off.
KING: The White House certainly expects the President to be acquitted.
KING (on camera): It was kind of a surreal environment. There's not enough critical mass to convict the President. And yet you're still on pins and needles they are behind closed doors. What are they doing? Is there something we don't know? Could something be happening? And so you're just waiting and waiting and waiting.
LOCKHART: We were getting regular reports and the kinds of things that they were debating looked like it could open up some new avenues and the President had lost his patience with it.
BLITZER (voice over): And according to Press Secretary, Joe Lockhart, he was getting concerned.
LOCKHART: We could see the goal line, and all we had to do was not screw it up. And when they went into private session, a hundred senators, there's a high probability that they could screw it up.
BLITZER (voice over): They wouldn't know for sure, until Friday, February 12, when the vote finally began.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special report from CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate is expected to once again open its doors to the public and vote on the two Articles of Impeachment.
FEINGOLD: On the day of the Senate vote, we were obviously highly attuned to it.
My sense of relief occurred when we finally started hearing the yeas and nays.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will be in order.
CRAIG: There was no uncertainty left anymore. We are now going to have the vote and the thing would be over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote guilty or not guilty --
BLITZER (voice over): On the first Article of Impeachment, perjury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senators how say you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Abraham, guilty. Mr. Akaka. Mr. Akaka, not guilty.
BLITZER (voice over): Forty five guilty and 55 not guilty, far short of the two thirds or 67 votes needed to convict.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate judge that the respondent, William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States is not guilty as charged in the first Article of Impeachment.
BLITZER (voice over): Article two. Obstruction of justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Warner. Mr. Warner, guilty. Mr. Wellstone. Mr. Wellstone, not guilty.
BLITZER (voice over): The final tally, 50 guilty and 50 not guilty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The galleries will be an order.
BLITZER (voice over): Short again of the 67 votes needed for conviction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate a judges that the respondent William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States is not guilty as charged in the second Article of Impeachment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very happy.
BISKUPIC: It was such a big moment. I think the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate felt that justice had been served.
In fact, the vote attest to that. That it was a bipartisan result.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a disappointment that there was not any one that crossed the aisle in terms of a Democrat voting for conviction.
BLITZER (voice over): Like the sole Democrat, Senator Russ Feingold, who had crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans not to dismiss the charges earlier, was now back in line with the Democrats.
BEGALA: I think you can conclude that somebody has committed an offense against the country that it is an impeachable offense, but you still don't believe it's appropriate for them to be removed from office because we could harm the country. And so that's what I did.
BEGALA: It was very somber and sad. There was no celebration. The country should have never had to go through, but it was a lot of pain.
BLITZER (voice over): And it was up to the President to heal that pain and division.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is coming out into the Rose Garden here in about a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just one, two testing. One, two, three, four.
BEGALA: I sat down with him and wrote a short statement for him. It just reflected where he was. He didn't try to shift the blame.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say, again, to the American people, how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people.
BEGALA: He truly was sorry, and he truly did want to reconcile and move the country forward.
CLINTON: We will rededicate ourselves to the work of serving our nation and building our future together.
BLITZER (voice over): President Clinton walked away from that podium and back to the White House impeached, but not removed. Left to serve out his remaining two years, his presidency intact, but his legacy forever altered.