Monica Lewinsky moved on after news of her affair with former President Bill Clinton broke almost 15 years ago, but their friends are speaking out publicly for the first time.
Bill Clinton’s colleagues still remember the scandal as if it were yesterday, and friends of Monica Lewinsky are still in disbelief and feel a sense of betrayal this month in a much-anticipated four-hour documentary about the former United States president.
The two-part biography, which premieres in Britain and the US on February 20, chronicles the former President’s struggle with his unruly libido from the beginning of a political career he was determined would take him to the White House. His loyal adviser, the pollster Dick Morris, will tell of the moment the president rang him just before evidence of his affair was about to be made public.
“Bill said to me: ‘Ever since I got to the White House I have had to shut down my body’,” says Morris, adding that Clinton told him he had been weak in the case of the 23-year-old intern and had done enough with her to be in serious trouble. He then asked Morris to conduct polls on how he should handle the crisis. Ken Gormley, a legal expert working in the White House, also recalls the sexual tension between the president and Lewinsky.
As a result, Clinton pulled out of the race at the last minute. Marla Crider, who worked with Clinton in Arkansas and had an affair with him, describes women as being “literally mesmerised”. “It was like flies to honey. I don’t think there is any question Hillary was hurt,” she says.
The documentary, which was partly funded by US government grant and partly by donation, details early difficulties such as the scandal surrounding Clinton’s affair with Gennifer Flowers, the sexual harassment suit brought by Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, and the devastating suicide of the Clintons’ close friend, Vince Foster, at the time that the suspected Whitewater land fraud first case came to light.
“Monica Lewinsky gave him something that he needed at that time: to be adored,” says Crider. When the affair became public, however, it fuelled the inquiry into Clinton’s presidency being run by Kenneth Starr and led to the impeachment of a president for only the second time in US history.