Bill Clinton says Lewinsky affair was to 'manage anxieties'

Bill Clinton attends a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network in Puerto Rico on Feb 18, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Bill Clinton said he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky to help him deal with the stress of being president as he opened up in a documentary released on Friday (March 6) about the scandal that led to his impeachment.

In the four-part Hulu series, Clinton describes his sexual relationship in the 1990s with the then 22-year-old White House intern as something he did "to manage my anxieties for years".

He said it had been motivated by life's "pressure and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever" and said he felt "terrible" that the affair had defined Lewinsky's life.

"We all bring our baggage to life and sometimes we do things we shouldn't do," Clinton says.

"It was awful what I did," the 73-year-old added.

Bill and Hillary Clinton were interviewed separately about what they recall from that time for the series, entitled Hillary, focusing on the life of the former first lady.

Clinton's sexual relationship with Lewinsky and subsequent denial about it under oath led to his impeachment in December 1998.

He was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999 but the scandal came to define his presidency.

Hillary Clinton says she felt "devastated and so personally hurt" when her husband told her about the affair.

They both talk about how Hillary told him to inform their daughter Chelsea before the news became public.

"So, I did that, which was awful," said the ex-president.

"What I did was wrong. I just hated to hurt her," he added.

Bill Clinton said nobody in his position would have thought about the risks they were taking by having the affair.

"It is you feel like you are staggering around, you have 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 a while. That is what happens," he explained.

The 42nd president also reflects on how the incident affected Lewinsky, saying he thinks her life has been "unfairly" defined by it.

"Over the years, I have watched her trying to get a normal life back again. But you got to decide how to define normal," he told the interviewer.

Both Clintons reflect on Hillary's decision to stand by her husband.

"I was so grateful that she thought we still had enough to stick it out. God knows the burden she paid for that," said the former president.

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