How an Arizona Republican decided to impeach the president (in 1998)

By Robin Bravender | Arizona Mirror

Ahead of the U.S. House vote to impeach President Bill Clinton, Arizona Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe’s office was inundated with calls from constituents hoping to sway him. 

He received more than 5,000 calls, faxes, letters and notes during a single week in December 1998, he told the Associated Press at the time. He was one of a few moderate Republican House members at that time who hadn’t publicly declared whether they planned to vote to impeach Clinton. Kolbe was viewed ahead of the vote as one of Clinton’s most likely GOP supporters. 

“We had to bring on temporary volunteer staff to answer phones,” the former congressman recalled to Arizona Mirror this week in an interview. Some of the comments were “angry, sometimes vitriolic, sometimes obscene,” he said. 

He thinks he got more calls opposing impeachment than supporting it, but he doesn’t remember the exact breakdown. 

“I think it’s a mistake for a member to ever count those kinds of things,” Kolbe said. “You have an obligation here of upholding the Constitution.”


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