In an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, Monica Lewinsky opened up about her sex scandal with former US president Bill Clinton.
Lewinsky joined the show to discuss “American Crime Story: Impeachment”, which she co-produced. The series dramatises the incident with the former president, and she reflected on her not being able to get any closure with Clinton.
She said: “There was a long period, before my life changed in the last six or seven years, where I felt a lot in terms of there not being this resolution.
“I’m very grateful that I don’t have that feeling anymore. I don’t need it. He should want to apologise in the same way I want to apologise any chance I get to people my actions have hurt.”
When asked how she would feel about the former president watching the show, Monica Lewinsky said that she wasn’t sure.
“I don’t even know how to really answer that. I do not recommend watching your early 20s be dramatised on TV. Especially in this instance where the truth really was stranger than fiction. (There were) moments where I just thought, ‘Don’t smile back. Don’t talk to her. Don’t confess. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t make bad decisions.’ I think that that was really hard to see,” she replied.
Lewinsky also mentioned that she believed people would react differently to the scandal today. Explaining, she said: “I don’t know that it would be as different as people want to think it would be. But we are having conversations about power differentials in different ways. It’s not just people in power who have voices. The beauty and the beast of social media is more people can be heard. I might have had a little bit of support.”
Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal
In 1995, 21-year-old Monica Lewinsky obtained a position as a White House intern through a family friend and within a few months, she embarked on an affair with then-President, Bill Clinton. Then, Clinton was married to Hillary Rodham Clinton, with whom he shares a daughter, Chelsea.
A year on into the affair, Lewinsky confided in a co-worker, Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded the confessional telephone calls.
Then on 13 January 1998, Tripp allegedly went a step further and was wired by FBI agents to record another conversation about the affair with Monica Lewinsky. A few weeks later, The Drudge Report covered the scandal and it blew up in the mainstream press.
President Bill Clinton then denied everything in a now-infamous interview on 26 January 1998 stating that the allegations were false and delivered his well-known line of “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”.
The then-First Lady, Hillary Clinton, also made several statements to the press supporting her husband.
She stated that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was behind the charges against her husband (who was also accused of groping another staffer, Kathleen Willey, around the same time as the affair leaked, an accusation that Clinton strongly denied as well).
In July of 1998, Lewinsky received total witness immunity in exchange for a grand jury testament about her relationship with the president. DNA evidence was later obtained from a dark blue dress worn by Lewinsky which confirmed that the pair had indeed had a physical relationship.
Then Clinton confessed and delivered a speech on 11 September 1998, addressing the affair at a White House Prayer Breakfast in the presence of many notable figures including his wife.
He said that he had ‘sinned’ and asked for forgiveness. By December 1998, Clinton was impeached on the grounds of perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice. However, he was acquitted and never removed from office.
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