President Bill Clinton has revealed he never personally apologized to Monica Lewinsky, in an interview in which he became visibly uncomfortable while being grilled about the #MeToo movement.
Asked if he should have resigned from the White House, Clinton said he had "done the right thing" and "defended the Constitution" by staying on through the impeachment process.
Clinton was on the Today show Monday to promote his upcoming novel, The President Is Missing, he became riled during his interview with Craig Melvin, particularly upon being asked if he felt worse about his behavior toward Lewinsky in the wake of #MeToo.
Lewinsky previously said the #MeToo movement had made her re-evaluate her affair with Clinton and the nature of sexual consent. Writing in Vanity Fair in March, she said: “[Clinton] was my boss. He was the most powerful man on the planet. He was 27 years my senior, with enough life experience to know better. He was, at the time, at the pinnacle of his career, while I was in my first job out of college.”
Asked if he thought differently about his affair through the lens of #MeToo, Clinton said no because he felt “terrible” about it at the time. The former president then became defensive over his record on gender equality, and accused the interviewer of failing to understand the Lewinsky case.
“You, typically, have ignored gaping facts in describing this and I bet you don’t even know them,” said Clinton. “This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me.”
He added: “I had a sexual-harassment policy when I was governor in the ’80s. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were over-represented in the attorney general’s office in the ’70s. I’ve had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts.”
Clinton revealed he has never apologized personally to Lewinsky, saying: “I have never talked to her, but I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”
Clinton went on to ask the interviewer if he believed that President Kennedy or President Johnson should have resigned over their alleged affairs, before shutting down Melvin’s line of questioning.
“Someone should ask you these questions because of the way you formulate the questions,” said Clinton. “I dealt with it 20 years ago plus and the American people, two-thirds of them stayed with me. And I’ve tried to do a good job since then with my life and with my work. That’s all I have to say.”
Speaking after the interview aired on Today, Melvin said that Clinton remarked to him off-camera that “standards in society have changed” in the wake of #MeToo, which, Clinton said, was a good thing.
“[Clinton] also reiterated how the facts of his case make it very different from some of the high-profile cases that have been spawned as a result of #MeToo,” said Melvin.