The public has heard Bill Clinton’s apology for having an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky while married to Hillary Clinton in the ’90s, but not his reason. Over two decades later, the 73-year-old former United States president is finally telling his truth in his wife’s upcoming documentary, Hillary, which will be released on Hulu on March 6. HollywoodLife has watched the documentary ahead of the premiere, and in it, this is Bill’s reasoning behind the shocking infidelity that led to his infamous 1999 impeachment trial: “You feel like you’re staggering around, you’ve been in a 15 round prize fight that was extended to 30 rounds and here’s something that will take your mind off it for a while, that’s what happens.”
For Bill, Monica was a source of relief; he adds, “Because there, whatever life – not just me. Everybody’s life has pressures and disappointments, terrors, fears of whatever. Things I did to manage my anxieties for years. I’m a different, totally different person than I was, a lot of that stuff 20 years ago.”
Looking back on the controversy now, Bill confesses, “I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky’s life was defined by it, unfairly I think.” Monica, who was only 22 years old at the time her affair with the former POTUS became public knowledge, later admitted in a 2016 Guardian interview that she came “very close” to committing suicide after facing the country and media’s scrutiny. Monica has since become an advocate for anti-cyber bullying measures, and Bill says in the new documentary, “Over the years I’ve watched her trying to get a normal life back again, but you’ve got to decide how to define normal.”
But how did Hillary, 72, react to all this? Bill also reveals the moment he had to come clean to his longtime wife, whom he married in 1975. “I went and sat on the bed and talked to her. I told her exactly what happened, when it happened. I said I feel terrible about it. We’ve been through quite a bit in the last few years. I said I have no defense, it’s inexcusable what I did,” Bill says in the documentary. Hillary did not see the confession coming, especially after Bill memorably said on national television in 1998, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
“I was just devastated. I could not believe it. I was so personally just hurt and I can’t believe this, I can’t believe you lied,” Hillary now reveals in the documentary. That led to counseling, which “was one of the hardest things” Bill says he ever had to do. However, he believes it was “necessary” because Hillary and their daughter Chelsea Clinton, who was 18 years old when she learned about the affair, both “deserved it.”
This isn’t the first time the 42nd U.S. president has looked back on the painful memories of his betrayal to Hillary. However, this reflection was much more empathetic than his 2018 interview on NBC’s Today. When asked if he feels like he owes Monica an apology, Bill had said, “No, I do — I do not. I’ve never talked to her. But I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.” Following his impeachment trial, Bill was acquitted of both articles of impeachment in Feb. 1999.