Why is Monica Lewinsky now opening up about Clinton affair?
(CNN) — Saying “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” Monica Lewinsky is writing for the first time about her affair in the 1990s with President 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 that her affair with Clinton 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.
In 1995 Lewinsky, then a White House intern, began a sexual relationship with Clinton. The political scandal and investigation that emerged from that extramarital affair resulted in the Democratic president’s impeachment by the Republican-led House of Representatives. Clinton was subsequently acquitted of all impeachment charges during a trial by the Senate.
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.)”
Lewinky was constantly in the media during and shortly after the controversy. In late 1999 she started selling a line of handbags 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 on Fox TV.
But in 2005, Lewinsky changed course, moving to Great Britain to obtain a masters degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics. She’s stayed out of the spotlight since then.
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 “as I was getting up to speed: If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky. 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).'”
The personal writings of Blair, made public earlier this year, gave insight into the former first lady’s views on the Monica 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.
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