Tuesday 10 March 2020

Bill Clinton says Monica Lewinsky affair was to 'manage anxiety'

Former president spoke about affair with then White House intern in Hulu docuseries Hillary

Bill Clinton claimed in a newly released documentary that the reason for his 1995 extramarital affair with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky was “to manage [his] anxieties”.

“It’s not a defense, it’s an explanation. It was awful. I feel terrible,” he said before trailing off. The former president also likened the stress of the Oval Office to a boxer who had “been in a 15-round prize fight that was extended to 30 rounds”.

“Here’s something that will take your mind off it for a while … Things I did to manage my anxieties for years,” he continues, adding that he is a “totally different person than [he] was” 20 years ago.

Clinton spoke on the affair in the Hulu docuseries Hillary, which chronicles Hillary Clinton’s historic 2016 presidential election run.
Bill Clinton in Paris on 30 September 2019. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

The third episode concentrates on the Clintons’ rebound from the infamous 25-year-old affair that almost stalled both their political careers and nearly ended their marriage.

Bill Clinton called seeing a marriage counselor “one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do”.

In 1999, the former president was impeached by the US House of Representatives for perjury charges stemming from an earlier deposition in which he denied the affair. He was later acquitted in the Senate.

Hillary Clinton, in the episode, disagreed with the affair being the source of her husband’s impeachment.

“He shouldn’t have done what he did, he shouldn’t have tried to hide it, but it was not an impeachable offense,” she said.

Lewinsky, now 46, had come to see her relationship with the former president as “a gross abuse of power”, based on their 27-year age gap and his position. In the episode, Bill Clinton expressed regret over the treatment Lewinsky received in the aftermath.

“I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky’s life was defined by it. Unfairly, I think.” he said.

The episode, titled The Hardest Decision, is episode three of a four-part documentary series that premiered Friday.

(Source: The Guardian)

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