With all the scandals leaking out of Donald Trump’s White House, A&E will revisit the last time a president was impeached with ‘The Clinton Affair.’ Get to know the woman at the heart of the controversy, Monica Lewinsky.
“The comprehensive three-night documentary series The Clinton Affair from Academy Award® and Emmy®-winning producer Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions and Emmy®-winning director Blair Foster weaves together never-before-seen archival footage with exclusive new interviews to examine the biggest political scandal of a generation and its lasting influence and reverberations on our country,” the Clinton Affair website reads. At the center of that “biggest political scandal” was a then 22-year-old intern named Monica Lewinsky. Monica, now 45, will offer “in-depth reflection(s) on the topic” during the docu-series, so get to know more about the woman who had an affair with President Bill Clinton, 72.
1. She was born in California and landed a White House internship while in college. Born Monica Samille Lewinsky in San Francisco in 1973, Monica grew up in an “affluent” family, per CNN, as her father owned a chain of cancer therapy clinics in Los Angeles. After graduating from Bel Air Prep in West Hollywood, she enrolled in Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Through her family’s connections, she landed an unpaid summer White House internship in the office of White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. She began in July 1995, which brought her in contact with then President Clinton.
2. She had nine sexual encounters with President Clinton. Monica and Bill started flirting soon as she started her internship. One day, she blurted out, ‘” have a crush on you,” and he answered with, “Well, do you want to come into the back office?” (per The Guardian). After WH staffers noticed how much time she was spending in the West Wing, she was transferred to the Pentagon. That is where she met Linda Tripp. After Monica confessed the affair, Linda began recording their conversations in Sept. 1997.
As part of Paula Jones’s case against Bill Clinton (when he was Governor of Arkansas) Monica submitted an affidavit in Jan. 1998, in which she denied having a physical affair. Linda Tripp, knowing her friend lied under oath, gave the tapes to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr (as part of his Whitewater investigation.) This led to Clinton denying the affair – “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” – which in turn led to his impeachment (though he was acquitted of both perjury and obstruction of justice.) Monica was granted transactional immunity in exchange of her testimony. She testified that she had nine sexual encounters, which included fellatio and other acts but not sexual intercourse.
3. She was made into a national joke, which nearly drove her to suicide. “I felt like every layer of my skin and my identity were ripped off of me in ’98 and ’99,” she told the Guardian in 2016. “It’s a skinning of sorts. You feel incredibly raw and frightened. But I also feel like the shame sticks to you like tar.” While she never attempted suicide, she said she “came very close.”
Every late night host at the time made fun of her. Even feminists trashed her, like Nancy Friday. When asked by the New York Observer to speculate on Monica’s future, post-scandal, she said, “She can rent out her mouth.” For what felt like a decade, Monica was a target of slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and just outright bullying.
“I think it’s fair to say that whatever mistakes I made, I was hung out to dry by a lot of people – by a lot of the feminists who had loud voices,” she added. ”I wish it had been handled differently. It was very scary and very confusing to be a young woman thrust on to the world stage and not belonging to any group. I didn’t belong to anybody.”
4. She has a Master of Science degree. Her immunity agreement restricted what Monica could talk about. She had a few high-profile interviews, following her scandal, and a few major pop-culture appearances. She appeared in commercials for Jenny Craig in the start of 2000, and began a line of handbags. Yet, her notoriety followed (with the never-ending supply of hate) and by 2005, she retreated from the public eye. She enrolled in the London School of Economics and in Dec. 2006, she graduated with a Master of Science degree.
5. She works now to combat cyber bullying. “My current goal is to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums,” she wrote in Vanity Fair in 2014. In 2015, she became an ambassador and strategic advisor for the Bystander Revolution, an anti-bullying organization. In Oct. 2107, she tweeted the #MeToo hashtag but in March 2018, said the relationship was consensual. However, she argued that the relationship constituted an “abuse of power” on Clinton’s part.