by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Before Pelosi and her fellow Democrats turn down the road to impeachment, they might do well to listen to the last Speaker of the House who tried to remove a president. Newt Gingrich famously led the Republican impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998-1999. Today, he has regrets.
In a recent interview at the Washington Examiner’s Sea Island Political Summit, I asked Gingrich about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent statement that the Republican campaign against Bill Clinton backfired on the GOP. “The business of presidential harassment, which we were deeply engaged in in the late 1990s, improved the president’s approval rating, and tanked ours,” McConnell said.
“I think McConnell is largely right,” Gingrich told me. “I think we mishandled the [Clinton] investigation…and I think that we should have been calmer and slower and allowed the country to talk to itself before we reached judgment.”
Gingrich pointed to another House leader, Democrat Tip O’Neill, who handled House action against Richard Nixon during Watergate. “O’Neill was better than I was at managing that process,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich’s words — and McConnell’s, too — are extraordinary admissions of mistakes. Together, they serve as a warning to Democrats to be cautious when it comes to impeaching Trump.