The affair with Monica Lewinsky was like therapy, former President Bill Clinton admitted this week.
The ex-president revealed in a new documentary that he cheated on his wife Hillary Clinton with the then-White House intern to “manage my anxieties,” the Daily Mail reported. Clinton paired that flippant explanation with a mea culpa of sorts, saying he regretted the impact the scandal had on Lewinsky’s life.
“Everybody’s life has pressures and disappointments, terrors, fears of whatever,” Clinton says. “Things I did to manage my anxieties for years. I’m a different, totally different person than I was, a lot of that stuff 20 years ago.”
Clinton: Lewinsky affair was to “manage anxiety”
Bill Clinton opened up about the affair in the third episode of an upcoming Hulu series about his wife, “Hillary.” The failed presidential candidate revealed in the documentary that she was “devastated” by her husband’s infidelity and his lies to cover up the affair.
“I was just devastated. I could not believe it. I was so personally just hurt and I can’t believe this, I can’t believe you lied,” Hillary Clinton said.
Bill revealed in the documentary that he engaged in the affair to deal with the pressure of running the country. He likened being president to being a prizefighter in a boxing match. “You feel like you’re staggering around, you’ve been in a 15-round prize fight that was extended to 30 rounds and here’s something that will take your mind off it for a while, that’s what happens,” he says.
Bill and Hillary described the painful moment that the former president confessed his affair to his wife and daughter, Chelsea, and the counseling sessions they went through to save their marriage. “I went and sat on the bed and talked to her. I told her exactly what happened, when it happened,” he said in the documentary. “I said I feel terrible about it … I have no defenses, it’s inexcusable what I did.”
Clinton publicly apologized to Lewinsky in 1998, but he revealed in 2018 that he has never apologized to her directly. In the new documentary, Clinton said he felt “terrible” for Lewinsky but appeared to water down his mea culpa:
I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky’s life was defined by it, unfairly I think. Over the years I’ve watched her trying to get a normal life back again but you’ve got to decide how to define normal.
Lewinsky has come back into the spotlight in recent years in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which brought renewed attention to the Lewinsky scandal and allegations of rape against Clinton. She has been vocal about the negative impact the scandal has had on her life and employment opportunities.
The Lewinsky scandal nearly ended Clinton’s presidency when he was impeached in 1998 for lying about the affair, and it has continued to shadow Hillary’s political career. It became an issue in 2016 when then-candidate Donald Trump accused his election rival of turning a blind eye to her husband’s philandering and alleged sexual harassment.
Hillary Clinton has taken flak over the years for “standing by her man” — and telling his alleged victims to get over it, in so many words — but the failed presidential candidate again said in the documentary that she doesn’t regret staying with Bill, according to the New York Post. And she doesn’t think he should have been impeached, either.
“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.