On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives impeached Bill Clinton on two charges related to his extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky. (The charges were for perjury and obstruction of justice.) The historic vote, and subsequent trial in the Senate, involved the work of three men who were elected Speaker of the House Of Representatives by the Republican majority, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston and Dennis Hastert.
Almost 17 years later, with the federal indictment of Hastert for illegally concealing up to $3.5 million in hush-money, we finally have a more complete understanding of the men who led this effort.
Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) led the push for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Following a disappointing election in November 1998, he announced he was stepping down as Speaker and resigning from Congress.
Gingrich later admitted that, while he was pushing for Clinton’s impeachment, he was engaged in an affair with a Congressional aide. “There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them,” Gingrich said in 2007. He later said the situation was “complex and, obviously, I wasn’t doing things to be proud of.”
After Gingrich announced his resignation, Republicans unanimously selected Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA) to succeed him. Livingston represented the party as Speaker-elect in the led up to the impeachment vote.
On the day of the impeachment vote, Livingston announced he was resigning following revelations that he had engaged in an extramarital affair. According to Hustler Magazine Publisher Larry Flint, who offered a reward for information about the sex lives of members of Congress, he “found four women who said they had been involved with Mr. Livingston over the last 10 years.”
Following Livingston’s resignation, which occurred on the same day the House voted on impeachment, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) quickly gained support of the Republican leadership to succeed him as Speaker-designate. He began formally serving as speaker in January 1999, and held that role while the Senate conducted their trial on the articles of impeachment.
On Thursday, Hastert was indicted on charges that he illegally structured $1.7 million in payments to an individual in an attempt to cover up prior misconduct. According to reports, the payments were allegedly intended to “conceal sexual abuse against a former male student he knew during his days as a teacher in Yorkville, Ill.” The LA Times also reported that “investigators also spoke with a second man who raised similar allegations that corroborated what the former student said.”
On April 27, Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for improperly structuring payments to cover up the abuse. In open court, a federal judge repeatedly called him a “serial child molester.”