This Day in History: Drudge Report breaks the Monica Lewinsky scandal
News of the Lewinsky scandal first broke on January 17, 1998, on the Drudge Report, which reported that Newsweek editors were sitting on a story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff exposing the affair.
The mainstream press picked up the story three days later with the Clinton administration quickly making denials, but the call for answers from the White House grew louder and louder.
On January 26, President Clinton, standing with his wife, spoke at a White House press conference, and issued a forceful denial, which contained what would later become one of the best-known sound bites of all time:
Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. 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, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you! (Emphasis added, The Dispatch)
In his deposition for the Paula Jones lawsuit, President Clinton denied having “sexual relations” with Lewinsky.
Based on the evidence provided by Linda Tripp, a blue dress with Clinton’s semen, Starr concluded that this sworn testimony was false and perjurious.
Clinton’s giving false testimony and allegedly influencing Lewinsky’s testimony were crimes of obstruction of justice and perjury and thus impeachable offenses. The House of Representatives voted to issue Articles of Impeachment against him which was followed by a 21-day trial in the Senate.
All of the Democrats in the Senate voted for acquittal on both the perjury and the obstruction of justice charges, but the GOP was split.
President Clinton was thereby acquitted of all charges and remained in office. There were attempts to censure the President by the House of Representatives, but those attempts failed.