November 1992 Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate, is elected president.
August 1994 A federal court appoints former Bush Solicitor General Kenneth Starr as independent counsel to investigate whether President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, committed fraud in connection with the Whitewater Development Corporation, an Arkansas real estate venture in which the Clintons were partners from 1978 to 1992.
November 1994 The Republican Party takes control of both the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Newt Gingrich, a fierce critic of President Clinton, assumes leadership as speaker of the House.
April 1996 Vice President Al Gore attends a fundraiser at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles and raises US$140,000 for the Democratic National Committee, the party's fundraising wing. The event itself was illegal-tax-exempt religious institutions are not allowed to host political fundraisers. Furthermore, a substantial portion of the money turned out to have been illegally funneled through nonexistent donors.
November 1996 Clinton is re-elected president.
December 1996 The House Ethics Committee issues a report concluding that Speaker Newt Gingrich used US$300,000 in tax-exempt public funds for his own political gain, and then misled authorities investigating the matter. The House formally reprimands Gingrich and fines him US$300,000.
February 1997 Clinton releases a list of 938 guests who stayed overnight in the White House's famed Lincoln Bedroom, insisting that they did not have to pay for the privilege. The maneuver is in response to an August 1996 report by the nonprofit investigative journalism organization the Center for Public Integrity revealing that more than 75 Democratic donors and fund raisers had been invited to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom.
July 1997 The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee begins hearings into possible fund-raising abuses in the 1996 presidential campaign, when the Clinton-Gore campaign and the Democratic Party allegedly accepted illegal foreign donations. The following March, the committee concludes the Clinton administration deliberately evaded campaign-finance rules but makes no recommendations that anyone be prosecuted.
September 1998 Kenneth Starr reports to Congress that he has found evidence of 11 impeachable offenses by Clinton. The next month, the House votes to hold a full inquiry into whether or not to impeach the president.
November 1998 In congressional elections, the Democrats gain five seats in the House, though leaving the Republicans with an overall majority. Speaker Gingrich steps down from leadership after the unexpected surge defies his predictions of large Republican gains.
November 1998 Legislation implementing the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials in International Business Transactions takes effect, bringing the United States in line with international anti-bribery standards.
December 1998 The House votes to impeach Clinton on two articles, charging him with perjury and obstructing justice to cover up his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
January 1999 Following a 21-day trial in the Senate, senators vote to acquit Clinton of both impeachment charges. A follow-up motion for censure also fails.
February 1999 Vice President Gore hosts the first global conference on fighting corruption among security, justice and budget officials.
October 1999 Kenneth Starr resigns as independent counsel and is replaced by his assistant, Robert Ray. Ray continues investigating until the last day that Clinton holds office, when he reaches a deal stripping Clinton of his law license for five years and fining him US$25,000 in exchange for not criminally prosecuting him following his presidential term. Ray clears the Clintons of all wrongdoing related to Whitewater and several other charges.
September 2000 The Inter-American Convention against Corruption is ratified and deposited at the Organization of American States.
October 2000 Congress passes the International Anti-corruption and Good Governance Act of 2000, which authorizes the president to establish foreign aid programs that improve governmental transparency and accountability.
November 2000 The polls close on Nov. 7, with no clear winner in the presidential election. While Vice President Al Gore earns more overall votes nationwide, Texas Governor George W. Bush appears to have earned more electoral votes. However, the apparent victory by Bush is complicated by voting irregularities in Florida, where Bush wins by only a few hundred votes. Over the course of 36 days, state and federal courts, and eventually the Supreme Court of the United States, weigh in on the matter until a politically divided Supreme Court orders state officials to stop recounting the ballots and allows Bush to be declared the winner.
January 2001 On his last day in office, President Clinton issues 140 executive pardons and commutes the sentences of 36 felons. Among those pardoned is international fugitive Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a major donor to the Democratic Party, Clinton's presidential library and the Senate campaign of her close friend Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rich faced up to 300 years in prison for evading more than US$48 million in taxes. Several people convicted in the Whitewater investigation and officials tied to the investigation of Mike Espy, Clinton's former secretary of Agriculture, are also pardoned.
January 2001 Bush refuses to publicly release former President Ronald Reagan's records as mandated by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. He instead issues an executive order giving himself and all past and future presidents the authority to veto the release of presidential records. Both Bush's father and several high-level officials in his government had worked for Reagan. The censored papers are believed to contain information related to arming radical Islamist forces in Afghanistan, building up the Iraqi military and supporting dictators in Asia and Latin America. Bush eventually releases 68,000 pages of Reagan's records.
May 2001 Republican Senator James Jeffords quits the Republican Party, allowing Democrats a 50 to 49 majority in the Senate.
October 2001 The USA Patriot Act ("Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism") is signed into law by President Bush. The law, enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, reduces several constitutional protections and enhances law enforcement powers. The law broadens the definition of domestic terrorism, allows the government to detain non-citizens for up to seven days without filing formal charges, expands the government's wiretap powers and allows intelligence agencies to share information with domestic law enforcement agencies.
October 2001 Attorney General John Ashcroft sends a "Guidance Memo" to all federal agencies stating that the Justice Department would stand behind any refusal to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, unless the decision lacks a "sound legal basis" or adversely affects the ability of other agencies to protect other records.
December 2001 Energy Company Enron declares bankruptcy after admitting that it used fraudulent accounting to hide its losses. Enron, which had overstated its earnings by more than US$567 million since 1997, is President Bush's largest campaign contributor, and its leaders had met repeatedly with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The Justice Department launches a criminal investigation in January. Through the course of the year, several Enron officials plead guilty to various charges, and Arthur Andersen, Enron's accounting firm, is found guilty of obstruction of justice for destroying relevant documents. In January 2004, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow pleads guilty to two counts of conspiracy and promises to aid the prosecution. In May 2006, former Chief Executive Officers Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling are convicted on multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy and other charges for lying to investors, regulators and employees about Enron's financial condition. Lay dies in July 2006.
February 2002 In its first-ever lawsuit against the government, the General Accounting Office (GAO) sues Vice President Dick Cheney to get access to records of an energy task force he organized in 2001 to help draft a national energy plan. After a federal court rules in favor of Cheney in December, the GAO drops its lawsuit, allegedly as a result of pressure from Republican lawmakers. Two civil society groups also sue for access to the records, claiming that energy companiesincluding Enron and its then-chairman Kenneth Layhad been given exclusive access while environmental groups were prevented from attending the task force's meetings. A court orders Cheney to release the documents, but in June 2004, the Supreme Court remands the case to a lower court for further proceedings. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is criticized for participating in the decision despite having gone on a duck hunting trip with Cheney after the Court agreed to hear the case. In May 2005, the lower court rules that Cheney does not have to release the documents and dismisses the suit.
March 2002 President Bush establishes the Millennium Challenge Account, a foreign-assistance fund that will disburse money to developing countries that satisfy criteria covering commitment to government transparency, anti-corruption, poverty eradication, and respect of citizens' basic rights.
March 2002 President Bush signs into law the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, a sweeping change in campaign finance regulations which prohibits unlimited donations to political parties and places restrictions on campaign advertisements. Several Republicans and a wide variety of interest groups immediately sue, challenging the constitutionality of the law. In December 2003, the Supreme Court upholds most of the law's key provisions.
June 2002 WorldCom Inc. admits that it inflated its earnings by US$3.8 billion. The figure is later amended to US$11 billion. The Securities and Exchange Commission immediately files fraud charges against the company and top officials. The following month WorldCom files for bankruptcy, costing investors more than US$175 billion. In 2003, the SEC fines WorldCom US$500 million, the largest penalty in the agency's history. In 2005, former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers is convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud and filing false documents with regulators and is sentenced to 25 years in prison.
July 2002 Congress passes the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law designed to protect investors from corporate accounting fraud by requiring executives to personally validate their companies' financial statements.
July 2002 The House of Representatives votes to expel Rep. James Traficant from office. In April, the Ohio Democrat was convicted on 10 counts of bribery, conspiracy, tax evasion, and racketeering charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
September 2002 The Federal Election Commission, the federal agency enforcing campaign finance laws, imposes a record-setting fine of US$719,000 against participants in various 1996 Democratic Party fund-raising scandals. Among those penalized are the Clinton-Gore campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and dozens of individuals and corporations who channeled illegal foreign contributions to Democrats.
October 2002 New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli stops his re-election campaign 36 days before the election. In July, the Senate Ethics Committee found that Torricelli had improperly accepted gifts and cash from a contributor. Seven people eventually plead guilty to making illegal contributions to his 1996 campaign.
November 2002 Republicans win several seats in the Senate and maintain control of both chambers of Congress.
February 2003 The Center for Public Integrity publishes a leaked government document detailing a secretly drafted sequel to the USA Patriot Act. Apparently drafted by the Justice Department and shared with Vice President Cheney and the speaker of the House, the draft bill would authorize secret arrests, ease restrictions on racial profiling, block prisoners' access to information, create a DNA database of suspected terrorists and allow deportation of anyone identified by the government as terrorists. Following public outcry, the draft bill is never formally proposed.
January 2004 The Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal requesting the identity of more than 700 men imprisoned at a U.S. military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba following Sept. 11. In June, however, the Supreme Court rules that Guantánamo Bay prisoners have basic due process rights. Military tribunals set up by the Bush administration to try the prisoners are struck down by the Court in 2006 as an illegal extension of presidential powers and a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
April 2004 The national media break the shocking story of Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi prison at which U.S. military personnel subjected detainees to acts of abuse and torture.
November 2004 George W. Bush wins a second presidential term.
September 2005 Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is indicted on a charge of criminally conspiring to funnel illegal contributions into 2002 Texas state elections that helped the Republican Party solidify its control of the House. He resigns from Congress in June 2006.
October 2005 Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements during an investigation into whether administration officials deliberately blew the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003 in order to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who claimed that Bush had distorted intelligence to justify the Iraq war. It is later confirmed that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove discussed Plame with reporters. As of August 2007, Rove avoids prosecution. He announces that he will step down from his post at the end of August 2007. Subsequent court filings also indicate Cheney had a role in the effort to discredit Wilson. Libby is sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for lying and obstructing Judiciary.
November 2005 Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigns from Congress after pleading guilty to taking more than US$2 million in bribes from defense contractors.
December 2005 The New York Times reports that in 2002 President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the e-mail, phone calls and fax communications of U.S. citizens without obtaining a warrant, in apparent violation of the law.
January 2006 Influential Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to corruption, fraud and tax evasion charges related to his lobbying activities. As part of his plea deal, Abramoff agrees to cooperate with authorities in an ongoing influence peddling investigation that seems certain to bring down many other lobbyists and lawmakers.
March 2006 Claude Allen, President Bush's domestic policy adviser, is arrested for stealing more than US$5,000 from Washington, D.C.-area retail stores through a fraudulent merchandise return scheme. He eventually pleads guilty to misdemeanor theft and is sentenced to probation and US$850 restitution to retail stores.
May 2006 The Federal Bureau of Investigation raids Democratic Congressman William Jefferson's congressional office after Jefferson had been videotaped accepting US$100,000 from an FBI informant, allegedly intended as a bribe, and later stashed the money in a freezer in his home. The raid, the first time the FBI has searched a congressional office, provokes a constitutional showdown between the legislative and executive branches over separation of powers. Jeferrson is indicted on June 2007 for money laundering and taking bribes worth more than US$400,000 for years by trying to arranging business deals in Africa.
June 2006 David H. Safavian, former chief procurement policy officer in the White House, is convicted of lying to investigators and obstructing justice during an investigation into his ties to Jack Abramoff.
July 2006 The American Bar Association, the country's pre-eminent lawyer organization, issues a report condemning President Bush's excessive use of signing statements, which presidents use to claim the authority to selectively enforce -or even outright ignore- the laws they sign.
August 2006 Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko is sentenced to nine years in U.S. federal prison and fined US$10 million for money laundering and extortion via American banks while he was the prime minister of Ukraine.
November 2006 The Democratic Party gets control of the Senate and House of Representatives in mid-term elections. Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female leader of the House of Representatives.
November 2006 Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld steps down.
February 2007 A Grand Jury fills indictment against three Army Reserve officers and two civilians. The indictment says US$8.6 million in reconstruction funds were awarded to a contractor in exchange for kickback including vehicles, jewelry and real estate. U.S. Army Reserve Col. Curtis Whiteford, being the top military official, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Debra Harrison, and Army Reserve Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler are the officials indicted.
June 2007 World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz resigns. The resignation decision comes soon after the World Bank executive directors meet to discuss his sending Shaha Riza, an employee in the Bank with whom he had a relationship, to the State Department for an assignment in 2005. Ms Riza's salary at the State Department was raised to US$193,590, a pay rate better than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's salary. The increase is claimed to be more than double what she would have got at the World Bank. A panel of executives at the World Bank says that President Paul Wolfowitz broke bank rules in awarding a pay rise to his girlfriend.
Robert Zoellick, former deputy secretary of state, becomes the new president of the World Bank.