Former President Bill Clinton appeared to bristle at questions about Monica Lewinsky during an interview on The Today Show.
Asked about the perspective of the #MeToo movement and his affair with the former White House intern, Clinton seemed to get defensive, accusing NBC’s Craig Melvin of “giving one side” of his past.
“This March, Monica Lewinsky penned an op-ed in Vanity Fair, taking responsibility for her part in the scandal but also admitting that years later, she was diagnosed with PTSD from the unrelenting public scrutiny,” Melvin said, before reading from Lewinsky’s piece. “Looking back, through the lens of #MeToo now, do you think differently or feel more responsibility?”
“No, I felt terrible then,” Clinton replied, quickly leaning forward in his seat, arms crossed. “And I came to grips with it.”
“And nobody believes that I got out of that for free,” he added, saying that he did apologize to Lewinsky and left the White House $16 million in debt.
“This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me,” Clinton said. “They were sensitive that I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the ’80s. I had two women chief of staff when I was governor. Women were over-represented in the attorney general’s office in the ’70s.”
The former president got heated as he continued speaking, finally confronting Melvin.
“I’ve had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts,” Clinton said.
Melvin defended himself and said he was “not trying to present a side.”
Clinton then confusingly argued about whether he had apologized to Lewinsky personally, saying he did so publicly.
“Do you feel that you owe her an apology?” Melvin asked.
“No. I, I do not, I have never talked to her,” Clinton responded. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public. ”
Author James Patterson, who was with Clinton for the interview as the two have co-written an upcoming novel, interjected.
“It’s 20 years ago, come on. Let’s talk about JFK. Let’s talk about — you know, LBJ. Stop already,” he said.