Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar asked on Twitter: “Have we ever had an impeached President, deliver the State of the Union address while he is on trial in the Senate?” Answer: Yes. President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Omar tweeted the inquiry on Feb. 2, two days before President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, adding, “Given the audience in the room will be both his prosecutors and jurors on said trial.”
Trump will deliver his speech tonight, after having been impeached by the House on Dec. 18 and while the Senate trial is still ongoing. But he’s not the first president to give a State of the Union address under those circumstances.
Clinton was impeached by the House on Dec. 19, 1998, and the Senate trial began on Jan. 7, 1999. He gave his State of the Union speech on Jan. 19, 1999, without mentioning the ongoing impeachment trial, as a transcript, and video, of the address archived by the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara shows.
“Several GOP House members boycotted the speech to show their displeasure with Clinton, who faces removal from office for charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky,” CNN reported at that time.
Clinton was acquitted by the Senate on Feb. 12, 1999, more than three weeks after his address. On the morning of Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, Feb. 4, the Senate trial was wrapping up, with senators speaking from the floor about the articles of impeachment. Trump is expected to be acquitted on Feb. 5.