Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a recently announced presidential candidate, reportedly comforted herself with mocha cakes and made then-president Bill sleep on the couch during the fallout from the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.
A new book on life in the White House provides a look into how Hillary, who just announced a bid for the presidency in the 2016 election, handled the affair when she served as first lady.
Although Bill and Hillary initially denied that Bill had an inappropriate relationship with former intern Lewinsky, sources who spoke to former White House reporter Kate Andersen Brower for “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House” said the affair was something of an open secret among staffers.
From the book (in an excerpt published by Politico):
Though the public did not learn about Monica Lewinsky until January 1998, some residence workers knew about the affair when it was still occurring. The butlers saw the president and Lewinsky in the family movie theatre, and the two of them were seen together so frequently that the workers started letting one another know when they’d had a Lewinsky sighting.
One household staffer, who asked not to be named, remembers standing in the main hallway behind the kitchen that was used by East Wing and West Wing aides. “That’s her — that’s the girlfriend,” a butler whispered, nudging her as Lewinsky walked by. “Yep, she’s the one. She was in the theatre the other night.”
Once the rumours about the affair started to surface in the press, the mood in the White House residence reportedly started to change. A White House maid told Brower that “things were definitely more tense” and said “you could feel the sadness” in the family’s private living quarters.
According to the book, Hillary “routinely” missed afternoon appointments and made Bill sleep on a couch in the study attached to their bedroom for three or four months in 1998.
The first lady’s temper was reportedly “notoriously short” during the media frenzy that followed the press rumours of the Lewinsky affair.
A former storeroom manager told Brower that the affair fallout “was just so overwhelming for her and if you said something to her she’d snap.” But he said he was sympathetic toward her and that he would love to work for her again.
Pastry chef Roland Mesnier also did what he could to help Hillary. Mesnier said her favourite dessert was mocha cake and that he “made many, many mocha cakes” during the height of the scandal.
Hillary would reportedly call the pastry shop in the late afternoons and say, in a “small, unassuming” voice, “Roland, can I have a mocha cake tonight?”
She also circumvented security protocol once so she could get some alone time, according to the book. Hillary reportedly asked an usher to escort her to the pool and made it clear that she didn’t want to see anyone while she was there. He worked out a plan with her lead Secret Service agent to make it happen.
While 1998 was a difficult year to work at the White House, several former staffers had good things to say about Hillary and how she handled the scandal.
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