Former President Bill Clinton says he would not have done anything differently even if the Monica Lewinsky scandal had taken place amid the #MeToo movement. “I don’t think it would be an issue,” Clinton said in a tense interview that aired on NBC’s Today show, “because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts. If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t.”
The revelation of Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky, a White House intern, led to his impeachment by the House in late 1998. Clinton was subsequently acquitted in the Senate.
Lawmakers have drawn parallels between the Lewinsky saga and President Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. And some, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have suggested Clinton should have resigned. The former president said his critics are engaging in revisionist history.
“A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work, I think partly because they were frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office. And his voters don’t seem to care,” Clinton said. “I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.”
The 71-year-old former president, who is promoting a new book he co-wrote with James Patterson, said he supports the waves of women coming forward in the wake of rape and sexual assault allegations against filmmaker Harvey Weinstein. “I like the #MeToo movement. It’s way overdue,” Clinton said. “I think that it doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made.”
In March — the 20th anniversary of the Ken Starr investigation that revealed her affair with Clinton — Lewinsky penned a Vanity Fair essay in which she said the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements had changed her perspective about the ordeal.
“Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern,” Lewinsky wrote, adding that even though what occurred between herself and Clinton wasn’t sexual assault, “we now recognize that it constituted a gross abuse of power.”
“He was my boss,” she added. “He was the most powerful man on the planet. He was 27 years my senior with enough life experience to know better. He was at the time at the pinnacle of his career, while I was at my first job out of college.”
On Today, Clinton was asked whether he now feels more responsibility for his actions. “No,” Clinton said. “I felt terrible then. And I came to grips with it.”
But when pressed by NBC’s Craig Melvin about whether he personally apologized to Lewinsky, Clinton became testy. “Nobody believes that I got out of that for free,” he said. “I left the White House $16 million in debt. But you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this. And I bet you don’t even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago. … I apologized to everybody in the world.”
“But you didn’t apologize to her,” Melvin said. “Do you feel like you owe her an apology?” “I do not,” Clinton replied. “I’ve never talked to her. But I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry.”
Lewinsky, for her part, seemed to take the high road. “Grateful to the myriad people who have helped me evolve + gain perspective in the last 20 years,” she tweeted on Monday afternoon, adding a link to her Vanity Fair essay.