Bill Clinton’s return to the spotlight was supposed to help make his new novel a best seller, but the ex-president has found interviewers in the #MeToo era unwilling to turn the page on his checkered past with women.
The former president is on the interview circuit in promotion of his new political thriller co-authored with James Patterson, “The President is Missing.” But in an environment where powerful figures are being held to account for their past mistreatment of women, Clinton is facing inevitable questions about the controversies that have engulfed him since the '90s -- and before.
Clinton had a heated interview on Monday with NBC’s Craig Melvin, accusing the reporter of ignoring "gaping facts" when he brought up Monica Lewinsky. Clinton went on to downplay his own conduct, identify with the #MeToo movement and liken himself to John F. Kennedy while pushing back on the notion he should have resigned.
“I like the #MeToo movement; it's way overdue,” Clinton said on NBC Monday. “It doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions that have been made.”
The #MeToo movement was kicked into high gear last year when Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was outed as a sexual predator. The scrutiny has since ensnared a host of political and entertainment figures -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- but Clinton has faced a reckoning from some in his own party. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said last year he should have resigned.
Clinton was asked directly about Gillibrand's resignation comment in a separate interview with "CBS Sunday Morning."
“I just disagree with her,” Clinton said, claiming she’s living in a “different context.”
In the NBC interview, Clinton bristled when asked if he would have resigned over his affair with then-22-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky should it have taken place during the height of #MeToo.
“I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts. If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t [step down,]” Clinton said. “A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work, I think partly ‘cause they are frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don’t seem to care.”
Clinton attempted to pivot to President Trump’s alleged sexual encounter with adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2006, which he said “hasn’t gotten anything like the coverage you would expect.”
Daniels was paid $130,000 in exchange for her silence about the alleged sexual affair by Trump attorney Michael Cohen in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Trump has also been criticized for using vulgar language to describe women, as revealed in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape released in October 2016.
Both issues have been widely covered.
Clinton, meanwhile, also suggested in the NBC interview that he didn't owe Lewinsky an apology as he's already apologized to the world.
At a separate appearance in Harlem on Monday evening, though, Clinton acknowledged he got “hot under the collar” during the NBC interview.
“The truth is, the hubbub was I got hot under the collar because of the way the questions were asked,” Clinton said.
Clinton added, again, that he supports the #MeToo movement, saying that it was “long overdue.”
The book tour, meanwhile, has opened Clinton up to renewed scrutiny over other long-simmering sexual assault and harassment allegations -- which he has denied through a lawyer.
During the 1990s, Clinton faced allegations of sexual misconduct by women like Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones—Hillary Clinton famously called it a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Broaddrick has alleged that Bill Clinton raped her in April 1977 and that Hillary Clinton intimidated her in an effort to keep her silent. Broaddrick gave an interview to NBC in 1999 but the network did not air her account until Clinton’s impeachment process concluded with an acquittal.
Broaddrick tweeted following Clinton’s NBC interview, slamming both the former president and the network for ignoring her claims.
“This is so disgusting,” Broaddrick tweeted. “Is there ANY reporter willing to ask Bill Clinton about RAPING me?”
She added: “Would the NBC TODAY show like for me to come on and talk about my RAPE by Bill Clinton since they don’t have the ‘balls’ to ask him?”
“Oh..Wait…..you are the same Network that delayed my interview until after the scumbag’s impeachment hearing was over,” she said.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.