Former President Bill Clinton said Monday that the #MeToo movement is “way overdue” but that criticism of his own behavior during the Monica Lewinsky scandal is partly the product of frustration that President Donald Trump has yet to face meaningful consequences for the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
“A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work,” Clinton told NBC’s “Today” show when asked about his decision to fight the articles of impeachment passed by the House in 1998. “I think partly because they're frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the oval office and his voters don't seem to care. I think I did the right thing. I defended the constitution.”
Accusations of sexual misconduct, most famously his affair with Lewinsky, a White House intern, have been given fresh scrutiny in recent months as a series of high-profile men in entertainment, media and politics have faced consequences for allegations of misbehavior. Clinton has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women, including one who says the former president raped her in 1978. Clinton has denied the allegations.
Trump, too, has been accused of an array of sexual misconduct by at least 19 different women, ranging from unwanted kissing and groping to sexual assault and harassment. His first wife, Ivana Trump, once accused the president of raping her but later recanted the allegation. Trump has denied the accusations against him, claiming they are politically motivated.
Clinton told “Today” that he does not believe Trump has gotten a pass on the accusations against him, “but it hasn't gotten anything like the coverage you would expect.”
Asked if felt differently about the Lewinsky scandal differently in light of the #MeToo movement, Clinton said he did not because “I felt terrible then. And I came to grips with it.” He told NBC’s Craig Melvin that “nobody believes that I got out of that for free” and that he was $16 million in debt when he left office in 2001.
The former president said he has not apologized privately to Lewinsky – nor spoken to her at all – and that he does not believe such an apology is necessary because he has repeatedly done so publicly.
More broadly, he said he is supportive of the #MeToo movement writ large even as he expressed skepticism over certain aspects of it.
“I like the MeToo movement. It’s way overdue. But I think – it doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made,” he said, without specifying which decisions he questioned.