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Friday, February 12, 1999 Published at 21:52 GMT

Everybody wins

Senators stand to applaud Judge William Rehnquist

By BBC News Online's Jane Black

The end of the sordid Monica Lewinsky affair has brought victory to everyone - at least if you believe the politicians.

Democratic and Republican senators are both claiming victory after President Clinton was acquitted in a double impeachment vote in the US Senate.

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It was self congratulation from the very beginning. After Mr Clinton's acquittal, the chamber broke out into explosive applause as senators happily bestowed a golden gavel plaque to the Chief Justice William Rehnquist who had presided over the trial.

Then there was the furious reaction that followed. Senators leapt in front of microphones and TV cameras, forcing continuous news channels to surf back and forth between contemporaneous news conferences.

"I think the constitution worked today. The United States Senate decided not to nullify the last election in this country," said Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat from Delaware, one of the first to speak.

"In many ways the Senate as a body is closer for having to go through this together. I think the country should now move on."

Trent Lott: "We've done what we were required to do"
"We've done what we were required to do," added Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott moments later.

"I think there was a general agreement that we needed to do this job, go home to be with our constituents and then come back to begin work on a new legislative agenda."

Not to be outdone, House manager Republican Henry Hyde, who was one of the main architects of efforts to drive Mr Clinton from office, called the verdict a symbol of the "genius" of the constitution.

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"All Americans can take great comfort that Congress is strengthened not weakened ... I have no regrets we fulfilled our oath of office to discharge our duty according to the constitution."

The public however was less impressed with the Senate's self satisfied calls to finally turn their attention to the business of the American people.

"I'm relieved it was over, but it never should have come to this in the first place," said Rick Nelson of Atlanta, Georgia, echoing the attitude of most Americans towards the trial.

"It should have been over a year ago, right about the time it started," he added.

In the end it was Sen Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, who best summed up what senators - and the public - feel about the trial.

"Thank God this is over," he said.

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In this section

Clinton in the clear

Eyewitness: Of all my trials...

World's press takes stock

Relief greets end of trial

A 'pyrrhic victory' for Clinton

Everybody wins

Key moments: In their own words

Timeline: The Clinton investigation