Bill Clinton says he would not respond any differently today to reports of his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky than he did in 1998.
“If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t,” the former US president told NBC’s Today programme.
When asked if, in light of the #MeToo movement, he thought his handling of the scandal had been correct, he said: “I think I did the right thing.”
Mr Clinton was impeached for lying to investigators over the relationship.
The House Republicans’ move against Mr Clinton in 1998 made him only the second US president to have been impeached. However he was later acquitted in the Senate and remained in power until 2001.
Speaking to NBC on Monday, Mr Clinton appeared defensive, saying he felt it was unnecessary for him to resign following the revelations of an affair with Ms Lewinsky, who was 22 years old at the time.
Mr Clinton also said he had never apologised personally to Ms Lewinsky. He was then asked if he thought he should do so.
“No, I do not,” he said, adding: “I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 4, 2018
Ms Lewinsky has maintained that her relationship with the former president was consensual, but she called it a “gross abuse of power””.
“Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position…” she told Vanity Fair in 2014.
News of the relationship dominated the US news agenda in the late 1990s after the then-president first denied the affair, before later admitting to “inappropriate intimate physical contact”.
Mr Clinton’s initial response to the media reports in 1998 – “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” – has gone down as one of US politics’ most memorable quotes.
Lewinsky on #MeToo
The #MeToo movement is a campaign against sexual harassment and abuse that has swept through Hollywood and beyond.
It was established last year following reports of numerous allegations from women of sexual harassment, abuse or rape against the film executive Harvey Weinstein.
In 2018, Ms Lewinsky discussed the movement in a Vanity Fair essay.
She wrote that she was moved to tears after being contacted by one of the leaders of the #MeToo movement, who expressed sympathy that Ms Lewinsky was “so alone” as news of the affair with Mr Clinton unfolded.
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) October 16, 2017
“Isolation is such a powerful tool to the subjugator. And yet I don’t believe I would have felt so isolated had it all happened today,” she writes.
“There are even some people who feel my White House experiences don’t have a place in this movement, as what transpired between Bill Clinton and myself was not sexual assault, although we now recognise that it constituted a gross abuse of power.”