- Former President Bill Clinton attempted to explain on Monday the defensive comments he made about his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
- “The truth is, the hubbub was I got hot under the collar because of the way the questions were asked. And I think what was lost were the two points that I made that are important to me,” he said at a book event.
- In an interview that aired Monday, Clinton said he does not view his affair with Lewinsky differently in light of the #MeToo movement, and that he never personally apologised to Lewinsky.
Former President Bill Clinton attempted to explain on Monday the defensive comments he made about his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, arguing that the “points” he wanted to get across were lost in the media’s reaction to his heated answers.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” that aired on Monday, Clinton said he would not change the way he handled the aftermath of his affair with Lewinsky, who was then a 22-year-old White House intern, and that he never personally apologised to her.
Clinton argued that it wasn’t the substance of his comments that sparked widespread criticism on Monday, but the way in which he made them.
“The truth is, the hubbub was I got hot under the collar because of the way the questions were asked. And I think what was lost were the two points that I made that are important to me,” Clinton told a New York audience at an event for his book tour on Monday evening.
Clinton insisted that he had provided a sufficient apology for the scandal that led to his impeachment.
“The suggestion was that I never apologised for what caused all the trouble for me 20 years ago,” Clinton said. “First point is, I did. I meant it then, I meant it now. I apologised to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family and to the American people before a panel of ministers in the White House, which was widely reported. So I did that. I meant it then and I mean it today. I live with it all the time.”
He added that he supports the movement against sexual harassment and assault and that he has a long record of promoting women in the workplace.
“The second is that I support the Me Too movement and think it is long overdue, and I have always tried to support it in the decisions and policies that I advanced,” he said. “Beyond that, I think it would be good if we could go on with the discussion.”
During his controversial “Today” interview, Clinton argued that the relitigation of the Lewinsky affair was unfair, and in part a result of frustration about the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct President Donald Trump faces.
“A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work,” Clinton told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview that aired Monday. “I think partly because they’re frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don’t seem to care. I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.”
Earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote in an essay that the #MeToo movement had caused her to reexamine her relationship with Clinton through a new lens, and she concluded that the affair constituted a “gross abuse of power” on Clinton’s part.
“He was my boss,” she wrote. “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 in my first job out of college.”
Clinton told “Today” that he never privately apologised to Lewinsky for the affair or its aftermath, but he noted that he apologised to her and her family publicly.
“I have never talked to her. But I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry,” he said. “That’s very different. The apology was public.”
Clinton added that he paid a price – both politically and literally – for the affair, even though he remained in office.
“Nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $US16 million in debt,” he added. “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. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me and they were not insensitive to that.”
And he mentioned that he didn’t agree with all the change the #MeToo movement has brought.
While he called the reckoning “way overdue,” he added, “it doesn’t mean I agree with everything.”
“I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made,” Clinton said.
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