Bill Clinton On Whether He Owes Monica Lewinsky An Apology: "No"

The former US President was asked if he would have acted differently towards Monica Lewinsky in light of the #MeToo movement.

What you need to know
  • Bill Clinton says he believes he "did the right thing" in regards to the Monica Lewinsky scandal
  • He has not privately apologised to her, nor does he intend to
  • Lewinsky has written about her PTSD diagnoses after the affair
  • Clinton has reaffirmed his support for the #MeToo movement

Former US President Bill Clinton doesn't believe he owes Monica Lewinsky an apology.

In a heated interview that aired on NBC News on Monday -- about his new book, co-authored by James Patterson -- was asked about the scandal that has followed him for the last twenty years, and if he would have acted differently in light of the #MeToo movement.

"I think I did the right thing," he told NBC's Craig Melvin. "The American people, two-thirds of them stayed with me. And I've tried to do a good job since then, and with my life and with my work. That's all I have to say."

When pressed, however, he said that he has "not talked" to Lewinsky since the fallout.

"Do you feel like you owe her an apology?" asked Melvin.

"No," replied Clinton. "I do not. I never talked to her. But I did say publicly, on more than one occasion that I was sorry."

They sat in silence for a beat. "That's very different," Clinton continued, pointing a finger at Melvin. "The apology was public."

The affair almost ended Clinton's presidency. In 1998, he became only the second ever president to be impeached, for lying to investigators about his relationship with Lewinsky.

Although he was eventually acquitted and remained in office, the affair hung over the heads of himself and the women closest to him for two decades. Hillary Clinton had every significant political achievement marred by her husband's affair, and Lewinsky's name became synonymous with "blow job".

Earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote for Vanity Fair about suffering PTSD as a result of the vicious fallout. While she has always maintained that the affair was consensual, she wrote about reckoning with the power dynamics at play.

"He 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."

Clinton's admission that he had never privately apologised to Lewinsky -- and that he feels he has no need to -- was slammed by critics, including vocal #MeToo advocates Rose McGowan and Asia Argento.

"Here is the truth of it: a human life was altered & destroyed due to your selfishness. Because. You. Could," tweeted McGowan. "You now only wiped your semen on a young girl's dress, you left a stain on society. You actually owe EVERYONE an apology, especially her."

Lewinsky even reposted her Vanity Fair piece in the wake of Clinton's interview, tweeting: "Grateful to the myriad of people who have helped me evolve and gain perspective. "

In the fallout, Clinton used the opening of his book tour event in New York to respond to the interview and the fallout, but did not confirm if he would extend a private apology to Lewinsky.

"The truth is, the hubbub was I got hot under the collar because of the way the questions were asked. And I think what was lost were the two points that I made that are important to me," he said, by way of explanation.

"The suggestion was that I never apologized for what caused all the trouble for me 20 years ago. First point is, I did. I meant it then, I meant it now. I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family and to the American people before a panel of ministers in the White House, which was widely reported. So I did that. I meant it then and I mean it today. I live with it all the time.

"The second is that I support the #MeToo movement and. Think it is long overdue, and I have always tried to support it in the decisions and policies that I advanced. Beyond that, I think it would be good if we could go on with the discussion."