Former president Bill Clinton was asked about his past of sexual misconduct on the context of the Me Too movement on Monday, and his answer stirred up controversy.
Clinton stopped by the Today Show on NBC to discuss his new book, The President Is Missing. In the interview, which aired on Monday, NBC News' Craig Melvin took a moment to ask him about the sexual misconduct scandal that shocked the nation while he was in office. President Clinton appeared reluctant to talk about Monica Lewinsky and how their affair looked in the era of the Me Too movement and the Time's Up campaign.
"I dealt with it 20 years ago, plus," President Clinton said. "And the American people, two-thirds of them stayed with me. And I've tried to do a good job since then, and with my life and with my work. That's all I have to say."
The subject seemed to set Clinton on edge. He accused Melvin on "omitting facts" about the case, and seemed to resent being associated with the other men taken down by the movement. He was especially upset to see the issue rehashed 20 years later while the sitting president faces far more allegations. He said that President Trump's sexual misconduct allegations have not "gotten anything like the coverage you would expect."
"A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work, I think partly because [Trump's supporters] are frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant in the Oval Office," he said. "And his donors don't seem to care."
He stood by a recent statement where he said that he had made the right decision by not resigning from office.
"I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution," Clinton said.
One of the most inflammatory things Clinton said was about the Me Too movement itself. He claimed to support the effort, but not everything that it has brought about."I still have questions about some of the decisions which have been made," he said.
Meanwhile, the movement has led many to take a closer look at Lewinsky's side of the story, and re-examine how the national narrative treated her. Lewinsky was a 22-year-old intern at the time of the scandal. In March, she wrote about the scandal at length in Vanity Fair. She said that her affair with Clinton "was not sexual assault," but it "constituted a gross abuse of power."
"He was my boss. He was the most powerful man on the planet," she wrote. "He was 27 years my senior, with enough life experience to know better. He was, at the time, at the pinnacle of his career, while I was in my first job out of college. (Note to the trolls, both Democratic and Republican: none of the above excuses me for my responsibility for what happened. I meet Regret every day.)"
Clinton was on screen with author James Patterson on Monday. The two co-wrote a fictional political thriller titled The President Is Missing. Patterson seemed equally surprised to hear Melvin bring up the old scandal.
"It's 20 years ago. Come on. Let's talk about JFK. Let's talk about, you know, LBJ. Stop it already," Patterson said.