Fact Check: MoveOn.org, Backing Trump Impeachment, Was Founded to Stop Clinton Impeachment

Impeachment MoveOn protest (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
Joel Pollak / Breitbart News

CLAIM: MoveOn.org and other pro-impeachment organizations are concerned about principles, not politics.

VERDICT: False. MoveOn.org was, ironically, founded to protest Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998.

MoveOn.org is the principal organization behind nationwide protests in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump. It led hundreds of demonstrations, big and small, on Tuesday evening, as well as a demonstration on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning as the House of Representatives arrived to debate impeachment.

Speakers from the organization said that their primary concern was standing up for the country and Constitution.

When it was founded in 1998, however, MoveOn.org argued that impeachment was deeply damaging to the nation. Congress, it said, should simply censure President Clinton for his crimes and then “move on” to important issues.

The first MoveOn.org petition (via the Internet archive), which launched the organization, read as follows:

Disgusted citizens organize on the Internet: Urge Congress to Censure and Move On

Across the United States today, a diverse group of online Americans launched an Internet political campaign and petition drive called Censure and Move On. Angry and disgusted by the behavior of our representatives in the nation’s capital, we are using email and the world-wide web to crystalize public opinion.

Censure and Move On is a bipartisan group of concerned citizens organizing around a single issue: speedy resolution of the Lewinsky sex scandal. We are not affiliated with or funded by any other organization. The vast majority of the American public understand that a continuing obsession with this scandal will do great damage to our institutions, our economy, and our power and prestige in the world. We expect our representatives to understand this as well, and show real leadership. Now that the special prosecutor’s report is in, the issue is totally in the political domain. A resolution of Censure is clearly the only path to speedy closure.

Censure and Move On is “flash campaign”, possible only through the organizing capabilities of the Internet. Using email and the web, we can focus a broad and deep consensus in the American public into action. Our strategy begins with an online petition drive to highlight public opinion to our representatives and the president. If the Congress opens an impeachment process or otherwise delays the matter’s resolution, we will shift focus to highlighting this issue in the fall elections.

The Censure and Move On petition is found at www.moveon.org. The petition web page simply states the Congress must, “Immediately Censure President Clinton and Move On to pressing issues facing the country.” In addition, the page includes directions for sending campaign email to friends and associates, and directions for becoming more involved in the campaign.

The email campaign began at 9am PST today, with the first dozen signatories each sending their email notices out to several dozen friends.

On December 21, 1998, the day the House impeached Clinton, MoveOn.org co-founder Wes Boyd said: “On Saturday, we witnessed the most reckless and irrational act in congressional history.

“The only way to save our system from permanent harm is to insure historic consequences for the perpetrators.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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