Bill Clinton Blames His Monica Lewinsky Affair On The Pressure Of Being President

This article contains references to sexual assault. 

The scandal surrounding the affair between then-President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky ultimately cost Clinton his presidency after he was impeached in 1998 on charges of obstruction of justice, abuse of office, and perjury. But according to the 42nd president, who delved into the scandal in the 2020 Hulu docuseries "Hillary," his presidency is what caused the affair in the first place. 

Clinton, who was 49 at the time of the scandal, spoke remorsefully about what happened with the then-22-year-old Lewinsky. He likened his time in office to being in a "15-round prize fight that was extended to 30 rounds, and here's something that'll take your mind off it for a while," adding, "Everybody's life has pressures and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever, things I did to manage my anxieties for years," (via The New York Times).

The Clinton–Lewinsky scandal, as it was often called, left a permanent mark on his presidential tenure and negatively affected the reputation, life, and career of his wife, Hillary Clinton, and the promising young intern whose name would be linked with wrongdoing for decades after the fact. Unsurprisingly, Clinton's description of the affair as "anxiety management" raised more than a few eyebrows on social media. 

Bill Clinton's explanation of the affair didn't do much to boost his public image

Plenty has happened since Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky had an affair in the late 1990s. Bill and his wife, Hillary Clinton, have maintained a united front. They remained married, and Bill later accompanied his wife on the campaign trail as she vied for a presidential nomination in both 2008 and 2016. Even the docuseries in which he described his affair as a way to relieve the anxiety of heading up the highest office in the land was a four-part series documenting Hillary's life — but the audience was less than forgiving. 

"I just read about how Bill Clinton used his affair to 'manage his anxieties,' and as a professional anxiousologist, I have to say, my dude, have you never heard of L-Theanine, meditation, or picking all the skin off of your thumb?" writer Kat Kinsman quipped on X, formerly known as Twitter. Another user wrote, "I love how absolutely NO ONE asked Bill Clinton why he got a blowjob in office and like 30 years later he has a sit down interview about it for no reason at all blaming his anxiety lmao who is this mans publicist???"

Lewinsky, for her part, has worked hard to create some good out of her life-altering experience. She's become an advocate for social change, particularly regarding cyberbullying and the #MeToo movement. Lewinsky even wrote a 2018 essay for Vanity Fair in which she asserted that she was ready to release the burden of the decades-old scandal for good.

The former president has a long history of alleged sexual misconduct

Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky might've been the largest and most consequential scandal of his political career, but it was hardly his first. In fact, Clinton's impeachment stemmed from a different sexual harassment trial in which Paula Jones accused the former president of exposing himself to her in an Arkansas hotel room. When Clinton was asked about his sexual history and denied having relations with Lewinsky, it later led to his impeachment charges. Jones' case was settled out of court for $850,000 amidst Clinton's 1998 impeachment trial. 

A former campaign volunteer, Juanita Broaddrick, also accused the former president of raping her in a hotel room in the late 1970s. However, Broaddrick's varying accounts of the attack — one of which included her saying he did not rape her, which she later claimed she said to maintain her privacy — caused the allegations to fall flat. In a 2016 interview with the far-right website Breitbart News, former TV reporter Leslie Millwee alleged that Clinton fondled her several times in the 1980s. Millwee claimed that she was too afraid to accuse the then-Governor at the time.

These and other accusations made against Clinton were either dropped or overshadowed due to insufficient evidence, failed polygraph tests, or other unknown causes. Though a court has never found Clinton guilty of any of these crimes, the sheer volume of them all makes his comments about finding "anxiety management" in an affair with Lewinsky that much cringier.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).