Bill Clinton says affair with Monica Lewinsky helped “manage my anxieties”

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(CBS News) — Former President Bill Clinton says that his affair two decades ago with White House intern Monica Lewinsky helped ease the pressures of the presidency. He also implied that there were other behaviors to regret beyond his affair with Lewinsky during that period in his political career. 

“We all bring our baggage to life and do things we shouldn’t do and it was awful what I did. Everybody’s life has pressures and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever, things I did to manage my anxieties for years .. I’m a different – totally different person than I was,” Mr. Clinton said in a newly released Hulu documentary. 

“What I did was bad, but it wasn’t like I thought, ‘Let’s see, how can I think about the most stupid thing I could possibly do, and do it?'” he paused and added, “It’s just not a defense. It’s an explanation. It’s — it was awful.” 

The former president also said he feels “terrible” about the affair’s consequences on Lewinsky’s life. 

“I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky’s life was defined by it, unfairly, I think. You know, over the years, I’ve watched her try to get a normal life back again,” Mr. Clinton said. “But you’ve gotta decide how to define ‘normal.'”

Clinton last spoke about the affair two years ago. At the height of the #MeToo uproar, asked in an interview if he had ever apologized to Lewinsky, he told NBC’s Craig Melvin, “I have.” Melvin asked, “You’ve apologized to her?” The former president replied, “I apologized to everybody in the world” but admitted that he had not spoken to her. 

In September 1998, three months before he was impeached by the House, Mr. Clinton told a White House gathering of religious leaders, “It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine: first and most important, my family; also my friends, my staff, my Cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness.” In the same remarks, he mentioned that he would “instruct my lawyers to mount a vigorous defense, using all available appropriate arguments” in the battle ahead for his presidency.

First published on March 6, 2020 / 11:15 AM

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