IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Bill Clinton opens up about Monica Lewinsky affair in new documentary: 'It was awful what I did'

In a new documentary about Hillary Clinton, the former president says he pursued the affair with intern Monica Lewinsky to help manage his "anxieties" and the pressures of the White House.
/ Source: TODAY

Former President Bill Clinton is speaking openly about his remorse over his affair with Monica Lewinsky and the reasons why he did it in a new documentary about his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton admitted to the affair with Lewinsky, then a White House intern, in 1998 after initially denying it, leading to an impeachment trial. Since leaving office 20 years ago, he and his wife have not spoken much about what went on behind the scenes at the time.

The four-part documentary, titled "Hillary," was released on Hulu Friday.

"We all bring our baggage to life and sometimes we do things we shouldn't do,'' Clinton says in the documentary. "It was awful what I did."

He also talks about the moment he revealed the affair to his wife, saying he explained to her "exactly what happened."

"I was just so personally hurt,'' Hillary Clinton says in the film. "I can't believe this. I can't believe you lied."

Bill Clinton also recalls the acute pain of having to explain what he'd done to their daughter, Chelsea, who was a teenager at the time.

"(Hillary) said you have to go tell your daughter — that's worse than me,'' the former president says. "So I did that, which was awful."

Clinton blamed the strain of being president for triggering the affair with Lewinsky, who was 22 when the affair began.

"You've been in a 15 round prize fight that was extended to 30 rounds, and here is something that will take your mind off of it for awhile,'' he said.

"Everybody's life has pressures and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever. The things I did to manage my anxieties for years — I'm a totally different person than I was."

Hillary Clinton also explained her reasons for not distancing herself from her husband in the aftermath.

"I defended and stood by him because I thought the impeachment process was wrong, but that wasn't the necessary answer to what I would do with my marriage,'' she said.

In February, the former first lady and New York senator spoke to Ellen DeGeneres about why she decided to revisit that painful moment in time for the film.

"It was a really emotionally draining experience to go through it again, but I have to say, once I saw the whole four hours of the documentary, I hope that our talking about this, my willingness to address all of this, really does help other people," she told DeGeneres. "People need to be thoughtful about the decisions they make in their own lives, and we should be kinder and more supportive to everybody who makes the best decisions that they think they can make."

In 2018, Bill Clinton spoke to Craig Melvin about the affair on TODAY, saying that he "felt terrible" but did not feel he owed Lewinsky a personal apology.

"I've never talked to her,'' he said. "But I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry. That's very different. The apology was public."

In the documentary, the former president says it was "unfair" that Lewinsky was demonized due to the scandal.

"I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky's life was defined by it, unfairly I think,'' he said. "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."