Clinton on Fumbled Responses to #MeToo Questions: 'I Need to Not React to the Raw Pain' of Reliving Lewinsky Scandal

June 27, 2018

Former President Bill Clinton said Tuesday he needed to "not react to the raw pain" of the Monica Lewinsky scandal when asked questions about the #MeToo movement, following a series of bumbled responses to such questions.

Clinton's conduct in the White House has fallen under fresh scrutiny with the rise of the #MeToo movement, which has led to the downfall of powerful men across numerous industries for sexual harassment and abuse. While in office, Clinton had a series of sexual encounters with Lewinsky, an intern 27 years his junior, and he was eventually impeached for lying under oath about the affair.

Clinton was panned for his recent responses to a range of questions about #MeToo, beginning with him attacking NBC News reporter Craig Melvin for his queries about the Lewinsky scandal earlier this month. Clinton also defended former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D.) against allegations of sexual misconduct, and he at one point commented, "the norms have really changed" regarding what "you can do to somebody against their will."

"Daily Show" host Trevor Noah said he had studied Clinton's responses about how the conversations had shaped his understanding of the #MeToo movement.

"Has it been hard for you to reprogram your brain?" Noah asked. "Has it been difficult for you to go, 'I have to relearn something that is happening now, as opposed to how I've always seen the world?'"

"It means that I need to not react to the raw pain of having to relive something that happened 20 years ago, and I need to be aware that, unfortunately, there are still millions of people every day who face objectification, disrespect, discrimination and sometimes outright abuse, in the workplace, on the street, and at home," Clinton said.

"And now we're all alive to it in ways we weren't before, and we're all trying to work our way through—not all of us, but most of us are—trying to work our way through how we can use this moment to build a better country in person after person after person's life," he said.