In the first scene, Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) is seen packing a copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” — a gift Lewinsky really got from former president Bill Clinton (played by Clive Owen in the show).
The third and latest “American Crime Story” season, titled “Impeachment,” opens with Lewinsky packing her apartment for a move to New York City.
She’s seen putting away a plushie toy and a copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”
According to a report by independent counsel Kenneth Starr looking into the circumstances surrounding Clinton’s impeachment, the book of poetry was one of the 30 gifts Clinton gave Lewinsky during the former couple’s 18-month-long relationship between 1995 and 1997.
Although the scene takes place in 1998, Lewinsky is also seen putting away a copy of the Washington Post from 1996 announcing that Clinton had won a second term as president.
The front page of the paper, published two years prior, read: “Clinton wins second term.”
FBI agent Mike Emmick (Colin Hanks) is seen going over a document listing what the federal agents plan to have Lewinsky do once they detain her, as well as the jail time they’re going to threaten her with.
Nine FBI agents detained Lewinsky for 11 hours at a Ritz hotel in Washington, DC, hoping that the then-24-year-old would reveal details about her relationship with Clinton.
“Impeachment” re-creates a part of that ordeal in the first episode.
Before the federal agents head out to meet Lewinsky, Emmick is seen going through a document that reveals that they plan to have Lewinsky call Clinton and his associates Betty Currie and Vernon Jordan once she is in their custody.
The same document also shows that they’re planning to tell Lewinsky that she could possibly go to prison for 28 years in connection with witness tampering, perjury, and obstruction of justice.
A scene taking place in July 1993 shows the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on TV at her confirmation hearing.
The first “Impeachment” episode jumps back and forth throughout the ’90s, between 1993 and 1998.
Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson) meets Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco) for the first time in a White House communal bathroom in a moment taken directly from Jane Mayer’s March 1998 New Yorker profile of Tripp.
After bumping into Hillary Clinton at a communal White House bathroom, Tripp says, “Mrs. Bush would rather be catheterized than use a public rest room” — just as the former Pentagon employee is quoted saying in the New Yorker profile.
Tripp has a picture with former president George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, on her White House desk instead of pictures with her friends or family.
Tripp repeatedly compares the Clintons to the Bush family on “Impeachment,” usually to criticize the then-newcomers to the White House.
Later, when she starts working at the Pentagon, she brings the framed photograph of herself with the older Bush couple to her new work desk as well.
Vince Foster (Matthew Floyd Miller) is seen looking at a negative June 1993 Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Who is Vince Foster?”
Foster was a lawyer from Arkansas who was close to Clinton prior to his presidency. Foster served as Deputy White House counsel until he died by suicide in July 1993.
The newspaper clipping featured in “Impeachment” doesn’t have a photo of Foster because, as the story explains, his office told the publication: “Mr. Foster sees no reason why he should supply the Journal with a photo.”
Right next to the WSJ op-ed about Foster is a story about Justice Ginsburg and her views on the “abortion issue” that surfaced during her confirmation hearing.
“Impeachment” re-creates the final moments of Foster’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death.
Earlier that same day, Foster hands envelopes addressed to an Arkansas-based life insurance company to Tripp.
When he gives Tripp the envelope, viewers see a bloody fingernail. Minutes later, he is seen nervously biting his nails after a chat where Nussbaum asks him to go easy on himself because the president had attracted good press that particular day.
Later, Foster heads out without his bag and drives to Fort Macy Park, Virginia. That’s where the real Foster reportedly died by suicide.
When Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) heads to CPAC, she walks past t-shirts with the text “Who killed Vince Foster?,” possibly a play on the WSJ op-ed headline “Who is Vince Foster?”
Foster’s 1993 death has led to decades of conspiracy theories alleging that he didn’t die by suicide and that he was actually killed even though the FBI, Congress, Department of Justice, and independent investigators all ruled out anything suspicious.
Most recently, the then-presidential nominee Donald Trump called the circumstances around Foster’s death “fishy” in 2016, once again drawing attention to the baseless claims that the late attorney was murdered.
“Impeachment” also re-creates a number of contemporary magazine covers, like Life magazine’s iconic 1998 cover story about Princess Diana, published months after her death.
Before meeting Tripp for lunch (which was actually a ruse on Tripp’s part to help the FBI detain Lewinsky), Lewinsky visits a newsstand with a number of recognizable magazine covers and faces from 1998, including Jerry Seinfeld on the cover of Time magazine.