Former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton
Former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton |Xinhua/Yin Bogu/IANS)

I had affair with Lewinsky to manage my anxieties: Bill Clinton


Washington, March 7, 2020

Former US President Bill Clinton claims that his affair with Monica Lewinsky was one of the "things I did to manage my anxieties".

The former President suggests that he had the fling with the ex-White House intern while he was in office because it helped with his own issues, the Daily Mail reported.

Bill reveals that at the time he met Lewinsky the pressure of the job made him feel like a boxer who had done 30 rounds and he looked at Lewinsky as "something that will take your mind off it for a while".

He makes the claims in an interview featured in the new documentary series that will air on Hulu about his wife Hillary Clinton, called "Hillary" where the former First Lady and Secretary of State candidly reveals that in the aftermath of the scandal the couple underwent "painful" marriage counselling.

Bill offers an apology to Lewinsky in the documentary that will premiere on Friday, and says he felt "terrible" that her life was defined by their affair.

But he said that at some point when things don't return to normal "you've got to decide how to define normal", suggesting the infamous former intern should just move on.

The four-part series features extraordinary access to the Clintons' inner circle and examines Hillary's public life from her student days to losing the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

But the part about the Lewinsky affair - which the political couple rarely address in public - will likely be the most scrutinized.

The scandal led to Bill being impeached in 1998. But he survived the trial in the Senate and remained in office during his second term.

The last time Bill spoke about the scandal was in 2018 and it backfired spectacularly because he said that he did not owe Lewinsky a private apology.

This time he went through in great detail, at times appearing emotional as he talked about the moment he finally came clean to his wife.

His hand was forced in 1998 when it became apparent he had lied to a grand jury investigating his personal affairs by denying the affair.

Bill had also denied it to Hillary - and she believed him.

He said in the interview: "I went and sat on the bed and talked to her. I told her exactly what happened, when it happened. I said I feel terrible about it. We've been through quite a bit in the last few years. I said I have no defence, it's inexcusable what I did".

Hillary tells the cameras: "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 told Bill that he was the one who had to tell their daughter Chelsea, who was 18 at the time. He thought it was worse than telling his wife and he said that doing so was "awful".

Asked why he took such a risk with his family, his marriage and his country, Bill said he wasn't thinking about those things when he cheated.

Instead, the pressures of being in the White House led him to seek a distraction.

"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.

"Because there, whatever life - not just me. Everybody's life has pressures and disappointments, terrors, fears of whatever.

"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," he said.

Bill did not explain exactly what he was referring to, but Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lucinda Franks has claimed that in 1999 Hillary told her Bill confessed that his mother abused him as a boy and caused him to become a sex addict.

In the Hulu documentary, Bill said: "Maybe it's just getting older but I hope it was also going through a lot of this. But whatever, what I did was bad but it wasn't like - how can I think about the most stupid thing I could and do it.

"It's not a defense, it's an explanation. I feel awful".

The family went to Martha's Vineyard for a vacation and when they returned Hillary had decided to stand by her husband and fight his impeachment.

On the helicopter ride there Chelsea took them both by the hand.

An emotional Hillary says in the film: "When she did that, oh my gosh, I thought that's just so incredible, so strong and so wise".

Hillary described the marriage counseling sessions with Bill as "painful, painful discussions".

Bill said: "Counseling was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do but it was necessary. She deserved it, Chelsea deserved it and I needed it.

"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'.

The documentary was directed by Nanette Burstein whose previous work includes a film about eccentric internet entrepreneur John McAfee.

They interviewed Hillary for 35 hours as well as many members of her campaign staff from 2016.

Neither Bernie Sanders, who nearly beat Hillary in the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary, nor Trump were invited to contribute.

Surprisingly the song played during the intro is called "Take Back the Power" by the Interrupters, a punky guitar song.

Hillary told Vanity Fair that she signed up for it "because I'm not running for anything".

"I felt like if I didn't tell my side of the story, who would? At least there'll be a baseline: Here's what actually happened in my life. Here's what I actually said about it."