Monica Lewinsky speaks out on affair that led to Clinton impeachment
She says in Vanity Fair article that she "deeply" regrets what happened
Lewinsky says her "boss took advantage of me," but the relationship was consensual
She responds to reports of how Hillary Clinton responded to the scandal
Saying that “it’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” Monica Lewinsky is writing for the first time about her affair with Bill Clinton.
“I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened,” says the now 40-year-old Lewinsky in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair.
Lewinsky maintains the relationship in the 1990s was one between two consenting adults.
“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position,” Lewinsky writes.
While a White House intern in 1995, Lewinsky began a sexual relationship with Clinton. The ensuing political scandal and investigation resulted in the Democratic President’s impeachment by the Republican-led House. The Senate acquitted him of the charges.
Lewinsky has stayed virtually silent about the affair the past decade. She writes in Vanity Fair that “the buzz in some circles has been that the Clintons must have paid me off; why else would I have refrained from speaking out? I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.”
But she adds that it’s time to stop “tiptoeing around my past – and other people’s futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)”
Lewinsky was constantly in the media during and shortly after the controversy.
She sold a line of handbags in 1999 and the next year she appeared in commercials for diet company Jenny Craig. In 2002, she appeared in an HBO special on the affair, and the next year she hosted a reality dating program.
Lewinsky changed course in 2005, moving to Britain to obtain a masters degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics. She’s stayed out of the spotlight since.
In the Vanity Fair article, Lewinsky responds to reports made public in February that Hillary Clinton, in correspondence with close friend Diane Blair during the 1990s, had characterized Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony toon.”
Lewinsky writes that her first thought was: “If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky.”
She continued, “Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him. Although she regarded Bill as having engaged in ‘gross inappropriate behavior,’ the affair was, nonetheless, ‘consensual (was not a power relationship).’”
Blair’s personal writings gave insight into the former first lady’s views on the Lewinsky scandal, as well as a host of other issues. The papers were donated by Blair’s family to the University of Arkansas.
Asked about those conversations between Hillary Clinton and Blair, Lewinsky writes: “Yes, I get it. Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband’s mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the Woman-not only me, but herself-troubling.”
And she rejects the “narcissistic loony toon” label, saying that she refused to cooperate with interrogators offering the then-24 year old immunity from the threat of jail time in return for wearing a wire to monitor staged conversations with two of Clinton’s confidantes.”
“Courageous or foolish, maybe,” Lewinsky writes, “but narcissistic and loony?”
The full article will appear in the June issue of Vanity Fair, which will be available in New York and Los Angeles and on the iPhone, iPad, Nook, and Kindle - on May 8. The magazine will hit national newsstands on May 13.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.