Lawmakers clash on Trump, Clinton impeachment comparisons

Lawmakers clash on Trump, Clinton impeachment comparisons
© Greg Nash

Republicans and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday clashed over comparisons between the impeachment case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE and the one decades ago against President Clinton. 

The disagreement was led by two members of the panel who were both in Congress and on the Judiciary Committee during the Clinton era.

Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenWhite House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump's impeachment team Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers Meet Pelosi's 7 impeachment managers MORE (D-Calif.), who was also a congressional staffer during the Nixon impeachment drama, said most Democrats in the Clinton era did not see sex as an impeachable offense. She contrasted that position with the crimes that Democrats are accusing Trump of having committed: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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Republicans in the Clinton era said the president had lied to Congress, but Lofgren argued he had just lied about an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

“I would just like to note that the argument that somehow lying about a sexual affair is an abuse of presidential power, but the misuse of presidential power to get a benefit somehow doesn’t matter,” Lofgren said. 

“Lying about sex, we could put Stormy Daniels’s case in front of us. We don’t believe that’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” she added. “And it is not before us, and it should not [be] before us, because it is not an abuse of presidential power.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said Lofgren was missing the point of Clinton's impeachment.

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“The important thing is that Bill Clinton lied to a grand jury,” responded Sensenbrenner, who was a key figure in the Clinton impeachment fight. 

“That is a crime. The article of impeachment that passed the House accused Bill Clinton of lying to a grand jury, a crime and something that obstructs the ability of the courts to get to the truth. This is not what is happening here. Big difference.”

The Judiciary panel is expected to vote on articles of impeachment against Trump later on Thursday.