House votes historic impeachment inquiry; 31 Democrats aboard

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House triggered an open-ended impeachment inquiry against President Clinton on Thursday in a momentous vote cast in the shadow of mid-term elections. Thirty-one Democrats joined majority Republicans in increasing the peril for the embattled chief executive.
The 258-176 vote opened the way for nationally televised impeachment hearings later this year, with possible witnesses ranging from Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr to Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp and other central characters in the sex-and-cover-up drama that has commanded the nation’s attention for nine months.
Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president, becomes the third occupant of his office to face serious impeachment prospects. Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House in 1868 but remained in office after the Senate fell one vote shy of forcing his removal. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 rather than face impeachment over Watergate.
House Democrats argued in vain for an inquiry limited to Starr’s evidence, to be wrapped up by Dec. 31.