The aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal has created a climate where once hidden incidents of sexual harassment and assault are coming to light. Accusations have been made against powerful figures in Hollywood, business, journalism, and now even the White House.
Media attention about Donald Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct has some people talking about former president Bill Clinton and accusations brought against him. However, one of those relationships was consensual. It is the relationship between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Hillary Clinton didn’t speak much about the affair between her husband and Lewinsky, but later on in her memoir and in documents released by a close friend of hers, we get a peek into how she was really feeling about the scandal.
Here is Hillary Clinton’s painful reaction to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s affair (the details of her reaction can be found on Page 5). We’ll also take a quick look at other famous presidential mistresses.
How it all started
In June 1995, Monica Lewinsky began working as an intern in the office of Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. By November of that year, Lewinsky and Clinton started a sexual relationship, reports CNN. Clinton and Lewinsky often met in the Oval Office for secret meetings. The Washington Post reports they had several sexual encounters in his office. Lewinsky is quoted in Kenneth Star’s report that she would gain entrance to the former president’s office under the pretense of delivering paperwork.
Next: How the dark secret came out
The secret is out
Lewinsky got a little too comfortable with fellow White House colleague Linda Tripp. During their conversations, Lewinsky told Tripp about her affair with Clinton. However, Tripp didn’t plan on keeping those confessions to herself. Instead, Tripp began secretly recording their conversations and eventually shared her knowledge of the affair with Newsweek reporters. She then delivered the taped conversations to her lawyer. Eventually, an investigation ensues.
Next: This wasn’t Bill Clinton’s only secret lady.
Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky didn’t come as a total surprise to some. Clinton had been accused of behaving inappropriately with other women in the past. Among them is Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Clinton of raping her almost 20 years ago. Another high-profile accuser is Paula Jones, to whom Clinton agreed to pay $850,000 in exchange for her dropping a sexual harassment suit.
Next: What ultimately happened to Bill Clinton?
A presidency under fire
Bill Clinton did not emerge from the scandal completely unscathed. He was impeached on December 19, 1998. The House of Representatives charged him with perjury and obstruction of justice. He was the second president in American history to be impeached. However, Clinton remained in office and finished his term. On February 12, 1999, Clinton was acquitted on both articles of impeachment.
Next: Hillary’s painful reaction
Hillary’s painful reaction
Although Newsweek delayed running the story about Lewinsky and Clinton, a gossip site and several news organizations caught wind of the scandal. Bill Clinton denied the reports. However, the investigation did find evidence of an affair. Hillary was quoted as saying Lewinsky is “a narcissistic loony toon,” in documents written by close friend Diane Blair. Blair (who died in 2000) also said Hillary told her the former president unsuccessfully tried to end the affair.
In Hillary’s memoir, Living History, she wrote about the pain she felt after finding out about her husband’s indiscretion. Clinton said she was “dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged,” after the former president confessed. “Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him. What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?” recalled Hillary in her book.
Next: People still debate the infamous affair and what should’ve happened.
People are still talking about the affair
Nearly two decades later, the affair between Clinton and Lewinsky is still a hot topic. In response to a question about whether the former president should have resigned after the affair was made public, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response,” reports The New York Times.
Next: Where’s Monica today?
Lewinsky said she felt shamed as a result of the harsh media attention. She told Vanity Fair she even contemplated suicide in 1998 during the height of the scandal. Lewinsky said she was humiliated and made a scapegoat.
Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position … The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.
Lewinsky tried her best to go back to a normal life and pick up the pieces. She started a handbag line, went back to school for a master’s degree in social psychology, and made a few television appearances. After spending almost 10 years out of the spotlight, she is now an anti-bullying advocate.
Next: These are the other mistresses of the most famous presidents
Rumor has it that Jennifer Fitzgerald, former assistant to George H.W. Bush, had an affair for years with her boss, according to Politico. Bush had known her since 1973 and she worked closely with him for a long time. George H.W. Bush’s son, George W. Bush, supposedly knew his father was having an affair and was extremely upset about it.
Next: All’s fair in love and war?
A well-respected president, WWII Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower allegedly had an affair with Kay Summersby, a member of the British Mechanised Transport Corps during World War II. She worked closely with Eisenhower while he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.
In 1975, as Summersby was dying from cancer, she had a ghostwriter pen her autobiography, Past Forgetting: My Love Affair with Dwight D. Eisenhower. It references “stolen kisses” along a woodland path and aboard “a darkened plane to Cairo,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Next: JFK’s affair with a 19-year-old
President John F. Kennedy invited 19-year-old White House intern Mimi Alford to take a swim with him during her first week at work. She accepted, and then she agreed to take a White House tour. That tour ended with a sexual encounter and an affair lasting almost eight months, according to The Daily Mail.
After the relationship ended, she was still allowed to keep her job. Alford kept the affair a secret, but in 2003 researchers discovered declassified documents pointing to the affair. In 2011, she wrote Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.
Next: The most famous presidential mistress of all time
Yup, JFK again, this time with Marilyn Monroe, who sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to him back in 1962 — in the sultriest way imaginable. She is rumored to have slept with JFK before her performance, according to Woman’s Day. Many also believe the rumors that Monroe repeatedly called the White House to talk to JFK and was ignored.
There is a number of conspiracy theories about Monroe and JFK. She died at 36, the year before Kennedy passed. Some think the Mafia had something to do with her death and some think the Kennedys did. Most agree that if she was killed, it was because she couldn’t leave JFK alone.
Next: Even Thomas Jefferson had an affair, along with maybe six children.
Thomas Jefferson shook the 19th-century world by having an affair with his slave Sally Hemings, according to History.com. Jefferson allegedly had six children with Hemings — and promised her freedom. It looks as if the third president of the United States didn’t live a squeaky clean life, although he did wait until his wife died to take Hemings as a mistress. Jefferson owned around 200 slaves, many of whom he set free.
Next: This president promised to quit his affair but just couldn’t.
Eleanor Roosevelt caught Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lucy Mercy cheating in 1918. And FDR promised to cut Mercer out of his life. During his third term as president, however, he began engaging with Mercer again, according to The New York Times, and she was with him when he died.
FDR’s administration tried to hide the affair from the public, but it was futile after former Roosevelt aide Jonathan W. Daniels wrote his 1966 book, The Time Between the Wars.
Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.
Additional reporting by Barri Segal.
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