Former President Bill Clinton said he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky to “manage my anxieties.”
In a new Hulu docu-series about Hillary Clinton covering her 2016 presidential campaign as well as her life and marriage to Bill, the former president addressed his affair with then-White House intern Lewinsky in the mid-1990s. He said he was under enormous pressure and he slept with Lewinsky to take his mind off the stress that comes with the presidency.
“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’ll take your mind off it for a while,” Clinton said. “Everybody’s life has pressures and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever, things I did to manage my anxieties for years.”
People on Twitter wondered why he didn’t just smoke a little weed instead.
Hillary says Bill sat down on their bed one morning and told her the news was about to break that he’d had an affair. He said there was no truth to the story that was about to run and that he hadn’t slept with Lewinsky.
Hillary believed him. “If they could make up something, they were so partisan that they would do it,” she said. For a time, she defended him publicly, backing up his story that he didn’t have an affair.
Lots of people couldn’t believe he would have an affair. Jennifer Palmieri, a special assistant to the White House chief of staff who went on to become the communications director for Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign, said she didn’t think anything of Bill’s spending time with Lewinsky.
“I didn’t think anything of it because, of course, who would think that Bill Clinton could be that stupid?” Palmieri says.
This isn’t the first time Bill’s spoken out about the affair. He was asked in 2018 whether he’d ever apologized to Lewinsky. He said he hadn’t, and he didn’t feel he owed her a personal apology.
“I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show. “That’s very different. The apology was public.”
The House impeached Bill for lying about his affair with Lewinsky before a grand jury, making him only the second president in history to face an impeachment. Like President Donald Trump, who was the third president to get impeached, the Senate eventually acquitted Clinton — but not before a lengthy trial during which Republicans aired tawdry details of the affair.
“Nobody sits down and thinks, ‘I think I’ll take a really irresponsible risk,’” Bill says in the documentary. “It’s bad for my family, bad for my country, bad for the people who work with me.”
Cover: Former President Bill Clinton attends the Clinton Global Initiative University’s Alumni Gathering at the Bloomberg Center, Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island in New York, NY. November 2, 2019. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)