Bill Clinton says the #MeToo movement hasn't changed his opinion of how he handled his affair with former staffer Monica Lewinsky.
Former US president Bill Clinton celebrated the #MeToo movement in a new interview but said that it would have done little to change his response to the scandal that prompted his impeachment.
“I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts,” he said in the interview on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.
When asked whether he would handle the response to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, then a White House intern, any differently, Clinton said, “If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t.”
He also said that he had never privately apologised to Lewinsky and that he did not feel he needed to.
“I have never talked to her,” Clinton told interviewer Craig Melvin of NBC News. “But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”
In the run-up to this year’s midterm elections, Clinton has been virtually invisible on the campaign trail because of new scrutiny of his past treatment of women, including Lewinsky.
For years, he had deflected allegations of sexual harassment and assault from several women, but several of his accusers have felt empowered recently as the #MeToo movement gained momentum.
Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones, three of the women who have accused Clinton of sexual harassment, said in November that they felt newly vindicated.
“It’s like me and Juanita and Kathleen have been screaming for years for someone to pay attention to us on the liberal side and it’s like no one would hear us,” Jones told The New York Times in November.
That same month, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said that Clinton should have resigned after the Lewinsky affair.
“Yes, I think that is the appropriate response,” she said after being asked whether he should have stepped down.
But Clinton bristled during the NBC News interview when asked whether he felt he had done enough to address the scandal.
“Nobody believes that I got out of that for free,” he said. “I left the White House with $16 million in debt.”
In a piece in the March issue of “Vanity Fair,” Lewinsky wrote that the #MeToo movement had helped clarify her thinking about the affair, which she had previously characterised as fully consensual.
“I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent,” she wrote. “Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station and privilege.”
After the NBC News interview aired on Monday, Lewinsky posted links to the piece on Twitter.
While Clinton praised the #MeToo movement in the interview, he admitted to having reservations about how some of it has unfolded.
“I like the #MeToo movement,” he said. “It’s way overdue. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions that have been made.”
Clinton was being interviewed alongside James Patterson, the prolific author with whom he wrote the new novel “The President Is Missing.”