Bill Clinton denied that the national climate surrounding the “Me Too” movement has forced him to reexamine his conduct while in the White House, telling USA Today’s Craig Melvin Monday that he “felt terrible then.”
“Through the lens of “Me Too” now, do you think differently or feel more responsibility?” Melvin asked after quoting a Vanity Fair article written by former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who claims she suffered post traumatic stress disorder after being thrust in to the public spotlight due to her affair with Clinton.
“No, I felt terrible then. And I came to grips with it,” Clinton said.
“Did you apologize?” Melvin asked.
“Yes, and nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House sixteen million dollars in debt,” Clinton retorted before attacking the media’s coverage of the events surrounding his sexual impropriety and touting the public support he received as president.
“But you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this and I bet you don’t even know them. This was litigated twenty years ago. Two thirds of the American people sided with me, they were not insensitive to that,” he said.
Clinton then went on to describe his record as an advocate for women in the workplace.
“I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the eighties,” he said. “I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were overrepresented in the attorney general’s office in the seventies, for their percentage of the bar. I’ve had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts.”
Asked to clarify whether he ever personally apologized to Lewinsky after claiming he had apologized to “everyone in the world,” Clinton admitted, “I’ve never talked to her.”
“No, I do not,” Clinton said when he was asked whether he owed Lewinsky an apology.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 4, 2018
Clinton, who was nearly impeached for lying about sexual liaisons he had with Paula Jones as governor of Arkansas, faced a renewed reckoning in recent years as the “Me Too” movement, as well as his wife’s presidential run, prompted a public reexamination of his behavior.
During the campaign, then candidate Trump employed the decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by Juanita Broaddrick and others to fend off the sexual harassment allegations he faced at the time. Trump invited Broaddrick to a presidential debate in October — held soon after the infamous Access Hollywood tape emerged — where she recounted her alleged rape at Clinton’s hands on a Facebook live broadcast.