A Man Familiar With Impeachment

There is no one on Capitol Hill quite like Alcee Hastings.

The Florida Democrat and ousted federal judge is the only member of Congress who has faced impeachment personally.
Our Full Coverage
of this Ongoing Story

"It was numbing. Devastating. Awesome," Hastings told CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger.

Hastings was made a judge in 1979. Two years later, he was charged with bribery. A jury acquitted him, but Congress impeached him, convicted him and threw him off the bench.

Hastings lost one job and quickly won another. He ran for Congress and was elected. Now, he is considering the impeachment of President Clinton alongside many of the same members who voted to impeach him.


He didn't like the process the first time around. He doesn't like it now.

"As I'm sitting there watching an unfair process, I feel as helpless as when it was happening to me," Hastings says.

He remembers his own impeachment as a rush to judgment, with members of Congress voting against him without hearing all the evidence. He doesn't believe the people who are now his colleagues will hear all the evidence in the President's case either.

"Ain't gonna happen," he says. "Didn't happen with me and that was mind-boggling. I couldn't believe it. These people were taking away a part of my life and not paying attention."

The Alcee Hastings case taught Congress a thing or two about impeachment. In many ways, when it threw the book at Hastings, Congress was writing the book on the process.

"Certainly the trial in the Senate is the only really modern trial of an impeachment," says attorney Alan Baron.

Baron presented the case against Hastings in what could be considered a dress rehearsal for the Clinton case.

"Virtually every nut and bolt in the Constitutional machinery was tested," he recalls.

But Hastings argues that his case set bad precedent for President Clinton.

"If they had learned anything, they would have learned that you don't hurry," Hastings says.

Hastings has a dubious place in place in history, but a secure place in the House.

"You just learn to get up every day and learn to say -- as I did -- that succeeding is the best revenge," says Hastings.

He is running for his fourth term this year -- unopposed.

Reported By Richard Schlesinger
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter