Former president Bill Clinton said in an interview that aired Monday that he would not handle the Monica Lewinsky scandal any differently today, even in light of the #MeToo movement, and that he never privately apologized to the former White House intern with whom he had a sexual relationship.
“If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t,” Clinton told NBC News “Today” correspondent Craig Melvin when asked if he would have approached the accusations against him any differently today.
“I don’t think it would be an issue,” Clinton said. “Because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts. . . . A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work.”
In an interview that turned testy, Clinton said he had apologized “to everybody in the world” for the 20-year-old episode but acknowledged he had not spoken directly to Lewinsky about the affair.
“I’ve never talked to her,” Clinton said. “But I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”
Clinton also noted that there had been negative consequences for him related to the episode, which led to his impeachment by the House but acquittal by the Senate.
“Nobody believes that I got out of that for free,” he said. “I left the White House $16 million in debt. “
Clinton also said he was right to fight his impeachment, telling Melvin: “I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.”
Clinton sat for the interview to promote his new novel with author James Patterson titled, “The President is Missing.”
In a Vanity Fair essay earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote that she was viewing the affair with Clinton through a “new lens” because of the #MeToo movement.
“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,” she wrote.
In his NBC interview, Clinton said that he likes the #MeToo movement, calling it “way overdue.”
He also said that critics of his behavior with Lewinsky partly are “frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office. And his voters don’t seem to care.”
Asked by Melvin if President Trump has gotten a pass on women accusing him of sexual misconduct, Clinton said, “No.”
“But it hasn’t gotten anything like the coverage that you would expect,” he said.