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Saturday, December 19, 1998 Published at 19:40 GMT

Clinton impeached

A historic day in the House

William Jefferson Clinton has become only the second president in the history of the United States to be impeached.

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The first vote was 228 to 206 in favour of impeaching President Clinton for perjury in front of a grand jury. Congressmen also passed another charge on obstruction of justice by 221 to 212.

However, he will not yet be removed from office.

Both votes were split down partisan lines, with only five Republicans abandoning their party in the first instance.

Article One is passed: Clinton Impeached

The House also voted down two other articles which accused Mr Clinton of perjury in the Paula Jones civil case and abuse of power.

On a count of 435 members, 218 votes are needed for a majority. (For full vote results click here.)

Earlier, the White House affirmed that Mr Clinton will not resign in the event of an impeachment vote. He is expected to address the American people later on Saturday.

Constitutional procedure states that Mr Clinton must now go to the Senate for a full-scale trial that could last anything between a few days and several months.

Sensational day in House

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The second and final day of the impeachment debate began with a bombshell when Republican Bob Livingston resigned as incoming speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mr Livingston, who was due to take over the speaker's job from Newt Gingrich in the new year, said he was stepping down after it was revealed earlier this week he had been unfaithful in his marriage. He pledged to leave the House altogether in six months.

His announcement stunned fellow representatives and may have hardened resolve among conservatives who want to oust Mr Clinton from office over his handling of the Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones affairs.

But the day was not without drama on the Democrats' side. Minority Leader Dick Gephardt led a walkout after a censure motion was ruled irrelevant to the impeachment debate.

The congressmen and women returned 10 minutes later to begin voting on the first article of impeachment.

13-hour session

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The Saturday session follows 13 hours of back-and-forth debate on Friday.

However, the underlying arguments remained the same until that session finally broke up at 2200 (0300 GMT).

While Republicans insisted Mr Clinton's actions amounted to the "high crimes and misdemeanours", the definition of impeachment, Democrats claimed censure would be more appropriate.

On Friday, Vice President Al Gore said there was more chance of a "meteor strike" than "the resignation of the president".

With a Republican majority in Congress, the vote was all but a foregone conclusion.

Full vote:

Article 1: Yes - 228 No - 206
Article 2: Yes -205 No - 229
Article 3: Yes - 221 No - 212
Article 4: Yes - 148 No - 285

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