But she says their affair was consensual and if there was any abuse involved it came afterward, when Clinton’s inner circle tried to discredit her and the president’s opponents used her as a political pawn.
The former White House intern, now 40, writes about her life in the next issue of Vanity Fair magazine, out this month.
In released excerpts, she says she’s perhaps the first internet-era scapegoat and wants to speak out on behalf of other victims of online humiliation.
Her willingness to step forward may come at an inopportune time as former first lady Hillary Clinton considers running for president. Republicans have signalled they don’t consider her husband’s scandal from the late 1990s out of bounds in the realm of 2016-style political dialogue.
Lewinsky writes that she deeply regrets the affair and made a point of staying silent through several presidential campaigns to avoid becoming a distraction. Now, she writes, it’s time to stop “tiptoeing around my past — and other people’s futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet.”
Invoking her headwear from endlessly repeated TV clips and the stained garment considered as evidence against Clinton, she writes: “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.”
But these aren’t her first public words on the scandal. Lewinsky broke her silence in 1999 with a blockbuster interview with Barbara Walters, gave several subsequent interviews and cooperated with author Andrew Morton on his book the same year, entitled Monica’s Story.
“Sure, my boss took advantage of me,” she writes now, “but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”
Lewinsky added, “I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and president Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”
Lewinsky dropped from sight after the scandal. She got a master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics and has lived in Los Angeles, New York and Portland, Oregon.
“I turned down offers that would have earned me more than $10 million (€, because they didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” she said.
She interviewed for numerous jobs in communications and branding with an emphasis on charity campaigns, but, “because of what potential employers so tactfully referred to as my ‘history,’” she writes, “I was never ‘quite right’ for the position. In some cases, I was right for all the wrong reasons, as in ‘Of course, your job would require you to attend our events.’ And, of course, these would be events at which press would be in attendance.”
Lewinsky said she was strongly tempted to kill herself several times during the investigations and in one or two periods after.
Her name resurfaced in US political discourse in February when former first lady and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton was quoted as calling her “a narcissistic loony toon” in an article based on the papers of a Clinton friend, Diane Blair “My first thought, as I was getting up to speed: If that’s the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky,” Lewinsky wrote in response to that insult.
“Mrs. Clinton, I read, had supposedly confided to Blair that, in part, she blamed herself for her husband’s affair (by being emotionally neglectful) and seemed to forgive him. Although she regarded Bill as having engaged in “gross inappropriate behaviour,” the affair was, nonetheless, “consensual (was not a power relationship).”
“(Hillary Clinton) may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the Woman — not only me, but herself — troubling.”
Spokesmen for the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation in New York had no immediate comment on the article.
Lewinsky said she was motivated to speak out by the 2010 suicide of a Rutgers University student who killed himself after a video of him kissing a man was streamed online.