Bill Clinton clarified his comment about not owing Monica Lewinsky an apology
As the #MeToo movement has unmasked countless sexual predators over the past few months, it has also led us to think critically about what constitutes sexual misconduct. For instance, in March, Monica Lewinsky penned a powerful essay about how the movement has changed her perspective on what took place between herself and former president Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. She wrote that given her young age and the power dynamics at play, she wondered if she could have really ever provided true consent.
Now, Clinton himself has addressed the way that he handled the affair, and the former president says he “did the right thing” in its aftermath. In an interview on the Today show this morning, June 4th, Clinton told NBC News’ Craig Melvin that the #MeToo movement wouldn’t have changed his decision to fight impeachment.
"I don't think it would be an issue," Clinton said in the interview. "Because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts. If the facts were the same today, I wouldn't."
In recent months, some of Clinton’s critics have argued that he should have resigned when reports of the affair surfaced. While addressing these complaints in today’s interview, Clinton defended his decision not to resign. To support this comment, he noted that although President Donald Trump has also been accused of sexual misconduct, he has not faced the consequences that Clinton did.
"I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution," Clinton said.
The former president also acknowledged that he never directly apologized to Lewinsky. And when asked if he owed Lewinsky an apology, Clinton dismissed the idea.
"No I do not — I have never talked to her," he said. "But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That's very different. The apology was public."
In her essay earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote that she had been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of “being publicly outed and ostracized” during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings. After Clinton’s June 4th interview aired, she thanked those who had helped her “evolve + gain perspective in the past 20 years” before tweeting the essay again.
However, on a June 5th appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Clinton clarified his comments, noting that the way the initial interview was edited made it seem like he wasn’t sorry, and that he was “mad at himself” for his choice of words.
"Here’s what I want to say," he told Colbert. "It wasn’t my finest hour but the important thing is that was a very painful thing that happened 20 years ago and I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, to the American people. I meant it then, I mean it now. I’ve had to live with the consequences every day since. I still believe this #MeToo movement is long overdue, necessary and should be supported."
We’re glad Clinton clarified his comments—though he still refused to acknowledge the parallels between what took place between himself and Lewinsky all those years ago and the current revelations of the #MeToo movement.
As always, we stand with all those who have spoken up—and continue to speak up—on harassment and abuse of power.