Monica Lewinsky - Dress, Bill Clinton and Now

Monica Lewinsky - Dress, Bill Clinton and Now

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The Monica Lewinsky scandal began in the late 1990s, when America was rocked by a political sex scandal involving President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern in her early 20s. In 1995, the two began a sexual relationship that continued sporadically until 1997. During that time, Lewinsky was transferred to a job at the Pentagon, where she confided in coworker Linda Tripp about her affair with the president. Tripp went on to secretly tape some of her conversations with Lewinsky. In 1998, when news of his extramarital affair became public, Clinton denied the relationship before later admitting to “inappropriate intimate physical contact” with Lewinsky. The House of Representatives impeached the president for perjury and obstruction of justice, but he was acquitted by the Senate.

A Presidential Affair

Born in San Francisco in 1973, Monica Lewinsky was raised in a well-off family in the Los Angeles area. In the summer of 1995, after graduating from Lewis and Clark College, she landed an unpaid internship in the White House chief of staff’s office, working out of the Old Executive Office Building.

That November, when many White House staffers were furloughed during a federal government shutdown, Lewinsky and other interns (who were allowed to keep working since they weren’t on the payroll), were moved into the West Wing to answer phones and run errands.

During this time, Lewinsky flirted with the president and the two had their first sexual encounter on the night of November 15 in the White House. Later that month, she took a paying job in the Office of Legislative Affairs.

According to Lewinsky, in the months that followed she and Bill Clinton had seven more sexual liaisons in the White House. Lewinsky’s visits to the Oval Office drew notice from people in the administration, and in April 1996 a deputy chief of staff had her transferred to a job at the Pentagon.

The president and Lewinsky had two more trysts, the last in spring 1997, and afterward remained in touch by phone.

Linda Tripp and Paula Jones

At the Pentagon, Lewinsky became friends with a coworker, Linda Tripp, in whom she confided details of her affair with the president. Tripp in turn shared the story with a literary agent she knew, Lucianne Goldberg, an anti-Clinton conservative. At Goldberg’s urging, Tripp secretly—and in violation of taping laws in Maryland where she lived—recorded hours of her phone conversations with Lewinsky.

Through Goldberg’s connections, word of Tripp’s tapes made it to lawyers working on behalf of Paula Jones, a former government employee who’d filed a lawsuit against the president for alleged sexual misconduct in 1991 when he was governor of Arkansas.

In December 1997, Lewinsky was subpoenaed by Jones’ attorneys and, after the president allegedly suggested she be evasive, the former intern denied in a sworn affidavit that she’d had a sexual relationship with Clinton.

Kenneth Starr

Around the same time, independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who’d been investigating Clinton and his wife Hillary’s involvement in a failed business venture called Whitewater, found out about Tripp’s recordings. Soon afterward, FBI agents fitted Tripp with a hidden microphone so she could tape her conversations with Lewinsky.

Additionally, Starr expanded his investigation to include the president’s relationship with the former intern, and federal officials told Lewinsky if she didn’t cooperate with the investigation she’d be charged with perjury. When Clinton was deposed that January by Jones’ legal team, he claimed he’d never had sexual relations with Lewinsky.

The Media Frenzy and Grand Jury Testimony

On January 17, 1998, the Drudge Report, a conservative online news aggregator founded in 1995, published an item accusing the president of having a sexual relationship with a former White House intern. The next day, the site revealed Lewinsky’s identity.

The mainstream media picked up the story a few days later, and a national scandal erupted. Clinton refuted the allegations against him, famously stating at a press conference, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

Monica Lewinsky’s Blue Dress

That July, Lewinsky’s lawyers announced she’d been granted immunity in exchange for her testimony. She also gave Starr’s team physical evidence of her dalliances with Clinton: a blue dress with an incriminating stain containing the president’s DNA. At the suggestion of Tripp, Lewinsky had never laundered the garment.

On August 17, 1998, Clinton testified before a grand jury and confessed he’d engaged in “inappropriate intimate physical contact” with Lewinsky. However, the president contended his actions with the former intern didn’t meet the definition of sexual relations used by Jones’ attorneys—so he hadn’t perjured himself.

That night, he appeared on national TV and apologized for his behavior, but maintained he’d never asked anyone involved to lie or do anything illegal.

Starr Report and Clinton’s Impeachment

In September 1998, Starr gave Congress a 445-page report describing Clinton and Lewinsky’s encounters in explicit detail, and putting forth 11 possible grounds for impeachment. The Starr Report, as it became known, was soon made public by Congress and published in book form, becoming a best-seller.

That October, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to proceed with impeachment hearings against Clinton. In December, the House approved two articles of impeachment against him: perjury and obstruction of justice. He was only the second president in U.S. history to be impeached (after President Andrew Johnson in 1868).

On February 12, 1999, following a five-week trial in the Senate, Clinton was acquitted.

Aftermath of the Scandal

Clinton went on to finish his second term in the White House and left office with strong public approval ratings, despite the scandal. During his impeachment proceedings, he agreed to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit for $850,000, but admitted no wrongdoing.

Lewinsky became a household name after the affair was revealed, and endured intense public scrutiny. In 1999, she sat for a TV interview with Barbara Walters that was watched by about 70 million Americans.

Following stints as a handbag designer and spokesperson for the Jenny Craig weight-loss program, among other pursuits, she attended graduate school in London then avoided the spotlight for years. In 2014, Lewinsky, who maintains that her relationship with Clinton was consensual, became an anti-bullying advocate.


Clinton Admits to Lewinsky Relationship, Challenges Starr to End Personal ‘Prying.’ Washington Post.
Where Are They Now: The Clinton Impeachment. Time Magazine.
Clinton on Lewinsky scandal: ‘I did not have sexual relations.’New York Daily News
The President’s Trial: The Betrayal; Tripp Says Her Betrayal Aimed To Get Lewinsky Out of Affair. The New York Times.
The Starr Report. Washington Post.

Bill Clinton says he had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky to ease his own ‘anxieties’

BILL Clinton has claimed that his affair with Monica Lewinsky was something he did to “manage his anxieties”.

The former President, 73, lifts the lid on his fling with the White House intern and claims the extramarital relationship helped with his personal issues.

Speaking in a new explosive documentary which will air on Hulu about his wife, called “Hillary”, he revealed the pair underwent “painful” marriage counselling after his affair.

His relationship with Lewinsky in the 1990s nearly brought down his presidency, and the public backlash resulted in her feeling like "the most humiliated woman in the world".

And he has now recalled the moment he told his wife “exactly what happened” and said he “felt terrible about it”, according to a clip published by

Clinton said: “I went and sat on the bed and talked to her. I told her exactly what happened, when it happened. I said I feel terrible about it.

After Bill and Monica, Drudge Report Continued With Scoops Almost As Big For 20 Years

Nearly 20 years ago, conservative blogger Matt Drudge tipped off the nation to one of the biggest political sex scandals in history. On January 17, 1998, Drudge posted to his "The Drudge Report" site about a Newsweek piece detailing former President Bill Clinton's relationship with 22-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky.

From there, Clinton would issue strong denials, face a grand jury and impeachment trial and eventually admit to an "inappropriate" relationship with Lewinsky that dogged the rest of his presidency and tarnished his legacy.

While it was technically a scoop of a scoop, the story elevated Drudge and perhaps reset the stage for newsgathering just as the Internet was about to take hold of the world. The subsequent fall out involved a media feeding frenzy for all things Bill and Monica, with everything from her stained blue dress to recordings with friend Linda Tripp all thrown to the public.

And for the last two decades, Drudge has continually provided readers with scoops ranging from big to stupendous to head-scratching. Here are some of the biggest scoops belonging to Drudge.

Roger Ailes built Fox News from the ground up in the late 1990s, making it headquarters for conservative media and eventually, President Donald Trump's favored cable news outlet. But when Ailes died in May of last year, it was Drudge&mdashnot Fox News&mdashwho first reported of Ailes' death.

Drudge Report scoops Fox on Ailes death. His widow's statement went straight to Matt.

&mdash Jeremy W. Peters (@jwpetersNYT) May 18, 2017

Amid allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News, Ailes left in July 2016 and received millions from the network, Drudge was the first to report.

The 2016 presidential debates were the highest of theatre and drama the country's experienced in some time, and Drudge further fueled it with a report about Hillary Clinton's request for a step-stool in the first showdown. Then Republican candidate Donald Trump had about 10 inches on Clinton height-wise and Drudge claimed former Clinton campaign manager was worried about how it would like on television.

Known to favor Trump, Drudge also played up heavy speculation about Clinton's health along the campaign trail. His report claimed Clinton had been having coughing fits for weeks and that the first debate would not have commercials, which could expose Clinton to embarrassment over her supposed illness. Prior to the debate, Clinton's doctor said pneumonia was the cause of her stumble at a 9/11 memorial service in New York.

Newt's Comeback Bid

In 2012, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich was in the midst of a political comeback with a bid for the presidency. But, in January of that year, his ex-wife, Marianne Ginther, granted an interview to ABC News that could have proved damning to his candidacy.

Drudge reported that ABC originally questioned whether it should air the interview prior to South Carolina's Republican primary. Ultimately, the network aired it before the primary and Ginther explained that Gingrich wanted an open marriage, among other allegations. They were divorced in 2000, and Gingrich later admitted to carrying on an affair with current wife Callista Gingrich while Bill Clinton faced impeachment proceedings.

Megyn Kelly's Exit

After her public battle with candidate Trump and an alleged rift with former anchor Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly appeared primed to leave Fox News. In December 2016, Drudge reported just that, claiming CNN wanted to snatch her away. A month later, she agreed to join NBC. Kelly's success at the network has been limited.

Prince Harry In Afghanistan Tour

In February 2008, Drudge revealed the United Kingdom's Prince Harry was taking part in a British Army offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then 23 years old and third in royal line of succession, the U.K.'s military decided to pull Harry out of action as a result.

Originally, media outlets knew of Harry's presence in Afghanistan but agreed to an embargo of the story for security reasons. After a German and Australian outlet published stories, Drudge was accused of breaking that embargo even though he claimed the story as an exclusive.

What Happened To Monica's Dress?

The complete story of Monica Lewinsky's navy-blue cocktail dress is included in the report that special prosecutor Kenneth Starr has turned over to Congress.

FBI agents began searching for that dress, mentioned in taped conversations Monica Lewinsky had with Linda Tripp, in January when the Whitewater investigation began to focus on President Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky, a former White House intern.

Our Full Coverage
of this Ongoing Story
Several dresses were seized by agents from Lewinsky apartment in January and sent to labs for analysis, but none turned up any evidence linking th epresident to Lewisnky.

After reaching an immunity and cooperation agreement with the Office of Independent Counsel on July 28, 1998, Lewinsky turned over a blue dress that she said she had worn during a sexual encounter with the president on Feb. 28, 1997. She allegedly had given it to her mother for safekeeping.

According to the Starr report Lewinsky noticed stains on the garment the next time she took it from the closet. She surmised that the stains were the president's semen, but she wasn't sure. Deep in the footnotes of the Starr report is this fascinating tidbit:

According to her grand jury testimony, Lewinsky testified that she did not keep the soiled dress as a souvenir. She said she does not ordinarily clean her clothes until she is ready to wear them again She had dined out after meeting with the president, "[s]o it could be spinach dip or something."

Initial tests, the report said, revealed that the stains were semen. Based on that result, the Office of the Independent Counsel asked the president for a blood sample.

Trending News

After the prosecutors assured the president that they had an evidentiary basis for making the requests, the president agreed to provide a blood sample.

It was taken in the White House map room on Aug. 3. The White House physician drew a vial of blood from the president in the presence of an FBI agent and an attorney from the Office of Independent Counsel.

According to the report, an analysis of the samples by an FBI laboratory concluded that the president was the source of the DNA found in a stain on the dress.

&aposVanity Fair&apos Essay

In early 2018, after the #MeToo movement emboldened women to speak out about experiences with sexual harassment and misconduct, Lewinsky penned a powerful essayਏor Vanity Fair

Noting how "something fundamental changed in our society" after the public revelations of her scandal with Clinton, and that more changes were afoot with the "second year of the Trump presidency in a post-Cosby-Ailes-O’Reilly-Weinstein-Spacey-Whoever-Is-Next world," she wrote that she no longer felt alone after years of being shamed for her part in a relationship with such a mismatched power dynamic.

“I Had the First Orgasm”: Monica Lewinsky & the Politics of Heterosexuality in the 1990s

What happens if we take Monica Lewinsky at her word? How might engaging seriously with her claim that “I had the first orgasm of the relationship” shift our understanding of the politics of heterosexuality on the eve of the twenty-first century? The Lewinsky-Clinton affair has been read in many ways: as a cautionary tale about the dangers of the loss of privacy, as a moment when the rules of engagement of American politics fell apart, as an episode in the culture wars. For some critics, it is proof that second-wave feminism’s insistence that “the personal is political” nearly destroyed American culture. Focusing on Lewinsky’s narration of her experience offers a different perspective, exposing both the institutionalization and the instability of one feminist position: that mutuality could revolutionize heterosexuality. In seeking to explain herself, Lewinsky maintained that mutual desire, intimacy, and pleasure could transform the “president and the intern” into “a man and a woman.” But hers was a story that could barely be heard.

The value of mutual desire to a well-functioning heterosexuality was a fixture of American sexual ideology since early in the twentieth century. From companionate marriage in the 1920s to “togetherness” in the 1950s, it has been a truism that heterosexual relationships and marriages work better when women’s and men’s experiences are somehow “in tune.” Yet by the 1960s the meanings of mutuality were hotly contested, as the second-wave feminist critique of the “myth of the vaginal orgasm” revealed. Sex “experts” promoted mutual orgasm as a means of adjusting women to their reproductive destiny and to male authority. Women’s liberationists advocated a “true” mutuality that made female sexual pleasure a measure and mechanism of social equality. As the eruption of the feminist sex wars by the early 1980s suggests, this project turned out to be enormously divisive, as some feminists posited that certain sex acts—s/m, participation in pornography and prostitution, or particularly “degrading” practices such as anal sex or fellatio—were inherently inimical to mutuality and equality, while others sought to multiply the possibilities for female sexual pleasure even under conditions of inequality. This conflict structured Lewinsky’s understandings of the affair, as well as the responses to the scandal.

In fact, the feminist ethic of mutuality made Lewinsky a public figure, for it was embedded within the law of sexual harassment under which her affair with Bill Clinton came to light. In Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court defined sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination and established “welcomeness” as the measure of permissible workplace sex. The justices agreed that since what looked like consent under conditions of inequality might merely be acquiescence, welcomeness was a way of more robustly assessing the dynamics of a relationship: Was sexual conduct between coworkers agreeable and pleasing to both? Was there mutual desire? Since welcomeness could be difficult to challenge or substantiate, in 1994 Congress loosened federal rules to permit the introduction of evidence of “similar” conduct in sexual harassment cases. Similar conduct could include any sexual encounter in the workplace, even if there had been no allegation of unwelcomeness. As a result, when former Arkansas employee, Paula Jones, filed a sexual harassment suit against ex-governor Clinton, her lawyers were permitted to question him about his relations with Lewinsky.

Ironically, Clinton’s position, articulated in his deposition in the Jones case and maintained throughout the scandal, offered an unexpected take on the logic of mutuality. In official proceedings, he was confronted with a peculiarly narrow definition of sex, cobbled together from the federal law on sexual assault: “a person engages in sexual relations when the person knowingly engages in or causes contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” He made use of the definition to his own advantage, consistently denying that he had “sexual relations” with Lewinsky: he had not touched the specified places on her body with the intent to arouse or gratify. He ultimately admitted to “inappropriate” intimacy that included fellatio, but mutuality was not its hallmark, Lewinsky’s pleasure was beside the point, and therefore it was not sex.

Lewinsky told a very different story about what happened between her and Clinton, describing in great detail a mutually satisfying and increasingly intimate heterosexuality, in which female and male pleasure could not be separated. In ten in-person sexual encounters, she claimed, there were nine acts of fellatio, but Clinton also touched her breasts with his hands or mouth on all ten occasions, manually stimulated her genitals four times, and pleasured her in other ways. He wanted to arouse her and one time had “focused [on her] pretty much exclusively.” If he came on two occasions near the end of the affair, he brought her to orgasm in three of their encounters, and she had at least 7-10 orgasms (not counting phone sex) over the course of their affair. Indeed, his orgasms were proof of their mutual caring, since he allowed himself to ejaculate only because it was so important to her as a path toward greater intimacy. Clinton had presented their touching as one-sided and limited, but Lewinsky believed that their relationship was much more than “sexual servicing,” even if it was also frustrating, disappointing, and in the end, marked by betrayal.

This account of mutuality mediating the inequality (of age, status, and power) between partners was met on almost all sides with disbelief, not least because of the prominence of oral sex within their sexual repertoire. Even as cunnilingus and fellatio became increasingly ordinary practices for Americans, fellatio, particularly if “unreciprocated” (i.e., not accompanied by cunnilingus), stood as a degrading act of subordination. It may have shed its older reputation as a “perverted” practice indulged in only by prostitutes and homosexuals, but it retained its gendered meanings as an act that confirmed the social inferiority of the individual who gave but (allegedly) did not receive pleasure. It was this logic that simultaneously allowed Clinton’s lawyers to suggest that Lewinsky had invented a tale of mutual touching in order to “avoid the demeaning nature of providing wholly unreciprocated sex,” and prompted radical feminist Andrea Dworkin to describe the oral sex in this relationship as a “fetishistic, heartless, cold sexual exchange” that placed Lewinsky in a “state of submission.” These interpretations left little room for Lewinsky’s attempt, in scholar Maria St. John’s words, to “rewrite the history of heterosexual fellatio” by declaring that fellatio could be an intimate, passionate, and mutual act between “sexual soulmates.”

Lewinsky’s claims of mutuality also were undermined by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s efforts to impeach the president, even as they were crucial to demonstrating that Clinton had lied under oath. Her testimony about mutual touching structured the Starr Report, but the decision to make central to his case her blue dress—stained with Clinton’s semen during one of their last trysts—contributed to public perceptions of Lewinsky as simply providing a sexual service. Starr forced her to produce the dress in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Relatively new DNA “fingerprinting” technologies made it possible to analyze the stains and link them with “a reasonable degree of scientific certainty” to Clinton. While these technologies did prompt the president to admit to “wrong” (but still not sexual) contact with Lewinsky, the dress’s role as physical evidence attested only to his arousal and, in that sense, was irrelevant to the question of perjury. Nonetheless, it was featured as “Exhibit No. 1” in the Starr Report.

A photograph of the blue dress worn by Monica Lewinsky and stained during a sexual encounter with President Bill Clinton. (Getty Images)

The forensic uses of the blue dress silenced Lewinsky’s testimony and refocused attention on phallic pleasure. In a sense, the dress took on a life of its own. It stood in for Lewinsky herself, inviting spectators to imagine her as a body to be used rather than a desiring subject. Further, the dress was portrayed in ways that linked to broader characterizations of her as not serious, not smart, and not qualified. Even though Lewinsky had been a salaried federal employee from the affair’s beginning, she was widely represented as concerned more with consumption (obsessed with food, shopping, and sex) than with production or work. Fantastical descriptions of the dress as a cocktail dress, “a little blue dress,” “Monica’s Love Dress,” and many variations on the theme, contributed to this portrayal. Even Starr’s assistant Karin Immergut, whom one might expect to know something about the matter, questioned Lewinsky about “the day you wore the blue cocktail dress.” Lewinsky retorted, irritatedly, “It’s not a cocktail dress… I’m a little defensive about this subject… It’s a dress from the Gap. It’s a work dress. It’s a casual dress.” As Lewinsky described it, the dress was a utilitarian item, one that situated her in the respectable arenas of work and family. Within the scandal, however, the dress confirmed that she was, variously, a seductress, an immature child (“I’ll never wash it again!,” she was alleged to have said), a victim, or a bimbo, anything but what she claimed to be: a young working woman who happened to have had a difficult but also passionate, exciting, and mutually welcome relationship with her boss.

Over the past two years, Monica Lewinsky has reinvented herself as a public intellectual, writing and speaking about her experience in the 1990s in order to “have a different ending to my story.” Lewinsky did not feel shamed by her sexual interactions with Clinton, but as she said in 2014, becoming known as “America’s premiere blow job queen” constituted public humiliation on a global level. That reputation depended on ignoring, disbelieving, or silencing her account of her sexual pleasure. We need not accept that Monica Lewinsky’s experience in the relationship was the same as Bill Clinton’s to ask why giving it voice subjected her to almost universal ridicule and contempt, even among those who imagined themselves to be her defenders. While there was more feminist support for Lewinsky than has been acknowledged, that “support” as frequently took the form of naming her a victim—of Clinton’s “notorious persuasiveness” or of her own romantic delusions—as honoring her sexual choices. Many second-wave feminists may have thought mutuality was a good thing—they even succeeded in enshrining it in law—but they had trouble believing that it was possible in a world structured by gender inequality.

Even more recently, in a context of heightened concern about slut-shaming and cyberbullying, some dismiss Monica’s story of mutual desire, pleasure, and intimacy as a chimera. Sociologist Chrys Ingraham, for example, identifies Lewinsky as an example of the heterosexual imaginary, a young woman whose self-understanding was distorted by ideologies of romantic love that distract women from the exploitative social relations of patriarchal heterosexuality. Lewinsky’s continuing efforts to regain control over her own narrative have been met with mixed results: her Ted Talk was highly praised, but recent public opinion polls reveal that she remains a scorned figure, and that she continues to be used as an instrument of partisan politics rather than recognized as a speaking subject. Remembering that her orgasm came first is unlikely to change these political realities, but it serves as a reminder that her humiliation helped silence a particular feminist politic about the possibilities of some women’s sexual self-determination within apparently unequal systems of sexual exchange. It remains to be seen if we’ve yet arrived at a moment when this story can have a different ending.

Andrea Friedman is an Associate Professor of History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. She is the author of two books: Citizenship in Cold War America: The National Security State and the Possibilities of Dissent (University of Massachusetts Press, 2014) and Prurient Interests: Gender, Democracy, and Obscenity in New York City, 1909-1945 (Columbia University Press, 2000). She is currently at work on a book on sexual politics during the Clinton presidency.

Monica Lewinsky Says She Thought Bill Clinton's Jizz on Her Dress Was Spinach Dip

“And so we moved to the bathroom and were more intimate. There was some attention paid on me and then I was reciprocating, where up until that point he had always stopped before completion on his part,” Lewinsky said, delicately trying to explain their encounter.

“I sort of stood up and said I wanted to move past that stage and so he finally said OK.”

That’s when the dress was soiled, but Lewinsky didn’t notice at the time.

“So that finished and then I hugged him after. And he hugged me,” she said. “And off I went.”

In 1998 grand jury testimony, she said she initially thought the marks on her dress “could be spinach dip or something.”

I don’t know if there’s ever been a public figure harder to pin down than Monica Lewinsky. She’s been a household word now for 20 years and for the life of me, I just can’t get a read on her. Because nobody toggles back and forth between completely different public personae than she does.

One interview she’s a victim of workplace harassment. The next, she was an independent woman in total control of her own sexuality. Then she’s an early pioneer of #MeToo. Next, she’s been bullied and slut-shamed like nobody ever has. Then it’s she and Clinton had a mutually respectful relationship, before switching back to she was coerced into blowing him by the imbalance of their power paradigm.

I mean, which is it? How many times have we heard her talk about how difficult it was to have her name become a noun? THE go-to shorthand for when you wanted to make reference to blowjibbers in polite company. To her it was mortifying and an invasion of privacy. Now it’s 2018 and she’s pretty much back to bragging about it. Telling the story like you’d brag to your friends about scoring Dumpster Head out back behind the club. And even here she can’t make up her mind about whether it was nice, simple, loveless hookup with a happy ending or a romance. “Leaves of Grass”? Really? Like Gale Boetticker gave to Walter White in Season 3? This one story sounds half like a post on a Reddit sex thread and half like a passage from a romance novel at the same time.

Which is fine by me. Monica is a grown woman. One of the few who can say she gave nogging to the most powerful man in the world in his office. So you do you. It’s just a little hard to say a thousand times how much you’re trying to put that all in the past and then do a TV docuseries where you get into the details and compare the President’s boy butter to spinach dip. Even after 20 years, we can’t stop talking about it until she stops talking about it first.

‘Zippergate’ 20 years on: How Monica & Bill changed the course of world history

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of 'Midnight in the American Empire,' How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of 'Midnight in the American Empire,' How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge

In January 1998, Washington was reeling from rumors that then President Bill Clinton, 49, had been involved in a sexual relationship with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Despite repeated denials from Clinton, the media was not about to loosen its grip on such a salacious story.

On January 21, Clinton went on television with wife Hillary at his side to deny the reports, saying, &ldquoI want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.&rdquo

If Clinton thought that terse statement would put the media hounds off the scent, he was sadly mistaken.

Unknown to Clinton at the time, Lewinsky had been confiding her darkest state secrets to Linda Tripp, a woman Lewinsky befriended while the two of them were employed in the Pentagon&rsquos public affairs office (bear with me, dear reader, these tedious details will end soon).

Tripp responded to poor Monica&rsquos pleas for help like any true confidant would: She proceeded to break the law by taping her phone conversations with her young, impressionable friend, and then handed over the audio evidence to the lawyer Kenneth Starr. Thus began months of breathless speculation, with the media dragging out all the dirty details of the case with unabashed enthusiasm. In the course of the deliberations, for example, the world was made privy to the news that Monica had hid away in her closet a semen-stained blue dress Tripp, who was allegedly taking advice from the literary agent, Lucianne Goldberg, advised Lewinsky not to seek the services of a dry cleaner. Tripp then delivered this incriminating article of clothing to Starr, along with the tapes. Which begs the question: With friends like this, who needs enemies?

The world was also forced to ponder, along with the prosecution, some very embarrassing questions. For example, does oral sex constitute bona fide, skin-slapping sex? Or does it belong in an entirely different category? Needless to say, this was not America&rsquos finest hour on the global stage. It was due to this apparent confusion over simple semantics that led Clinton to deny that he had any sexual relations with Miss Lewinsky. This slick denial opened up the president to charges of perjury, which set in motion impeachment proceedings against him.

And then the fireworks really began. On August 20, in true &lsquoWag the Dog&rsquo fashion, Clinton ordered the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that produced aspirin. Yes, aspirin. Apparently the strategy here was to ensure that the wily Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network would be deprived of headache relief.

Whatever the case may be, the timing of the attack &ndash on the very day of Lewinsky&rsquos return to the grand jury trial &ndash was suspicious to say the least. &ldquoSources in US intelligence apparently claimed that there was only one &lsquowindow&rsquo through which to strike at bin Laden, and that the only time&hellip Was on the night of Monica Lewinsky's return to the grand jury,&rdquo the late Christopher Hitchens wrote in Salon.

However, there were far greater global implications of the Clinton-Lewinsky case than just the destruction of a pill factory in Sudan, bad as that was. In fact, the short-lived tryst between Clinton and Lewinsky could have actually changed the course of world history.

Let&rsquos assume that the Clinton-Lewinsky thing never happened. Who would have benefited most from such a magical historical revisionism? Yes, you guessed. Vice President Al Gore, who many analysts believe would have been an easy shoe-in for the presidency if not for Zippergate. After his defeat in the 2000 presidential election against George W. Bush, Gore said the Clinton scandal had placed a &ldquodrag&rdquo on his campaign.

And considering how Bush won the extremely tight election, which went down to a vote determined not by the people, but by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court, it seems safe to say that Gore would most likely have defeated Bush had the Clinton affair not muddied the political waters.

Thus, America, by default, got arguably the worst president in American history at a time when it would demand nothing less than the best. That&rsquos because in just nine months&rsquo time, the United States would be attacked by 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists who would strike at the heart of America&rsquos business and military centers, killing some 3,000 people in the process.

Although it is unlikely that Gore could have prevented the attacks from happening had he been president, we can speculate that his response to the attacks would have been radically different than Bush&rsquos. Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of modern American foreign policy was the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003. By now, we are all too familiar with the bit of theater then Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered at the UN General Assembly, as he shook a vial of faux anthrax, suggesting that Saddam Hussein possessed enough of the deadly bacteria to wreak havoc.

Powell, whose testimony was later determined to have been built on &ldquobad intelligence,&rdquo says his UN speech would be a permanent &ldquoblot&rdquo on his record. Nevertheless, it succeeded in doing what so many hawks in the Bush administration had been advocating for a long time: provide a premise for launching an attack against Iraq.

The UK under Tony Blair backed up the bad intelligence, saying Hussein's chemical weapons were on "standby" to use within 45 minutes. That claim also turned out to be false.

Needless to say, that illicit war will forever stain the reputation of the United States. The Bush administration - despite protests from UN weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq, who reported they were unable to find any evidence pointing to the existence of weapons of mass destruction in the country - went ahead and opened its military offensive anyways.

"There were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction,"said Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat who served as UN chief weapons inspector from 2000 to 2003.

Today, Iraq continues to suffer deaths as a direct result of America&rsquos decision. According to the Iraq Body Count website, between 180,093 to 201,873 civilians were killed as a result of that conflict.

Meanwhile, and equally disturbing, is that the Iraq war gave rise to one of the most heinous terrorist organizations in history: Islamic State. Although there is no guarantee that Gore would not have taken the same steps as George W. Bush had he been president, it seems likely, given what we know about the neoconservatives that were prevalent in the Bush administration, there would have been no such course of action against a country totally unconnected to the attacks of 9/11 and weapons of mass destruction.

That should serve as a reminder to any future leader &ndash male or female &ndash who may happen to be tempted by the charms of a fellow colleague. The potential far-reaching consequences of such a dalliance are just not worth it.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Edie Falco cast as Hillary Clinton in 'Impeachment: American Crime Story'

It’s the most infamous stained dress in presidential history, but Monica Lewinsky says when she wore it after her widely chronicled hookup with President Bill Clinton, no one noticed.

“I went to dinner that night. None of these people said to me, ‘Hey, you’ve got to go to the bathroom, you’ve got stuff all over your dress,’” Lewinsky said in “The Clinton Affair,” a new A&E series.

She said she also didn’t spot the telltale semen stain that proved she and Clinton were more than just friends.

Lewinsky went into detail about the day the piece of evidence was created, as she continued to carry on a years-long relationship with Clinton in the early months of 1997, after he won re-election.

Clinton had invited Lewinsky to a White House radio address, she recalled.

“He said he had a present for me. I didn’t quite know — would I get to see him alone? Wouldn’t I?” Lewinsky said.

“As I went through to shake his hand after and take a picture with him, he said, ‘Oh, go see Betty, she has something for you.’”

The president was referring to Betty Currie, his personal secretary, whose desk was right outside the Oval Office.

“She brought me into the Oval Office and all three of us went into the back study, and she went into the dining room to hide there,” Lewinsky added.

“Because the illusion to everyone else was that I was not alone with him.”

The president gave Lewinsky a box with a hat pin, telling her he got it for her because “’you always look so cute in hats,’ or ‘you and your hats,’ or something like that,” Lewinsky said.

A photograph of Lewinsky’s dress Getty Images

He also gave her a “really beautiful copy” of “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman.

“It was a very meaningful present to me. It’s an intimate book that you don’t give lightly. Whatever had been nagging in me — is what I’m feeling real? Is that there? Whatever those insecurities were, they kind of vanished in some way with him giving me this gift,” Lewinsky said.

She explained that this was the first time she and the president had been together since she had been “banished” to the Pentagon, a decision she believed was made to keep her from affecting the 1996 presidential election.

“And so we moved to the bathroom and were more intimate. There was some attention paid on me and then I was reciprocating, where up until that point he had always stopped before completion on his part,” Lewinsky said, delicately trying to explain their encounter.

“I sort of stood up and said I wanted to move past that stage and so he finally said OK.”

That’s when the dress was soiled, but Lewinsky didn’t notice at the time.

“So that finished and then I hugged him after. And he hugged me,” she said. “And off I went.”

In 1998 grand jury testimony, she said she initially thought the marks on her dress “could be spinach dip or something.”

In a prior interview, Lewinsky said she didn’t notice the stain until she took the dress out for Thanksgiving. She tried it on for confidante Linda Tripp, who told her it made her look fat.

When the two women figured out that the president’s semen was deposited on the blue Gap dress, Tripp — who was taping Lewinsky — encouraged her to keep it.

“The Clinton Affair,” a six-part series produced by Alex Gibney and directed by Blair Foster, begins airing on A&E on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Lewinsky took on new relevance

Some have viewed the case as particularly relevant amid the #MeToo movement. For example, in November 2017, Pulitzer Prize winner Kathleen Parker wrote in a column for the Washington Post that Clinton &mdash not Lewinsky &mdash was at fault for the affair.

“It doesn&rsquot matter if Lewinsky, then 21, pursued the president and ‘knew’ what she was doing,” Parker wrote. “Obviously, given the long-term effects of this episode on her life, she didn&rsquot.”

A spokesperson for Lewinsky told TIME in 2018 that she wasn’t available for interview. In October 2017, Lewinsky tweeted #MeToo &mdash the hashtag millions of people used to indicate that they had experienced sexual harassment and assault. It was unclear what specifically Lewinsky was referring to in her tweet.

In an essay for Vanity Fair’s March 2018 issue, Lewinsky said the #MeToo movement made her begin to grapple with the power dynamics at play in her relationship with Clinton.

“Now, at 44, I&rsquom beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern. I&rsquom beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot,” she wrote. “But it&rsquos also complicated. Very, very complicated.”

“But I know one thing for certain: part of what has allowed me to shift is knowing I&rsquom not alone anymore,” she added. “And for that I am grateful.”

In recent years, Lewinsky has participated in pop culture’s re-examination of the relationship. She sat for interviews for the A&E docuseries The Clinton Affair, which aired in November 2018. On Aug. 6, Lewinsky announced that she signed on to produce the upcoming season of Murphy‘s acclaimed American Crime Story, which will be centered on the Clinton impeachment. Murphy had previously said he would only do the show with Lewinsky’s participation. Beanie Feldstein will play Lewinsky in the series.

“People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades,” Lewinsky told Vanity Fair on Aug. 6. “In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been fully able to reclaim my narrative.”

Watch the video: 1998: Clinton-Lewinsky scandal breaks on CNN