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President Donald Trump may be the one fighting in the Senate to keep his job, but on Capitol Hill and across the country, it can feel like someone else is still on trial: Bill Clinton.

Clinton’s own impeachment trial, once a fading cultural artifact in the C-SPAN archives, has suddenly received new life. The Washington figures who lived through it are enjoying a nostalgic return to the spotlight and lawmakers are squabbling over the 20-year-old event. And that C-SPAN archive is now a treasure trove for anyone looking to score political points.

Come Tuesday, the public will also be reintroduced to one of the most memorable Clinton impeachment figures — Kenneth Starr, who oversaw the most contentious parts of the yearslong probe into the Democratic president’s behavior. Trump on Friday placed Starr on his legal team, with an eye toward the TV optics of having the legal nemesis of the last impeached president now on the other side, defending this impeached president.

There are logistical reasons to revisit Clinton’s Senate trial — it’s the only modern precedent of its kind. But there are also cultural reasons — the country is trying to grapple with how Trump’s current predicament fits into the sweep of American history. In short, how did we get here?

“It’s natural to want to reach back into history and try to find parallels to the last time an impeachment happened,” said Leon Neyfakh, producer of Slate’s popular “Slow Burn” podcast series that featured an entire season focused on the events leading up to Clinton’s impeachment. “I think there’s a desire to set expectations for ourselves. We want to not only know what to expect, but we want to properly calibrate our expectations.”

It’s a phenomenon that has come to define each step of the Trump administration — the president winds up in a largely unprecedented scenario, and everyone goes looking for historical comparisons. Read more

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