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Bill Clinton book tour stop, media appearances derailed by #MeToo questions about Lewinsky

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Former President Bill Clinton visited Manhattan on Tuesday and had to answer a number of awkward questions to the media and members of the public about his apology to Monica Lewinsky.

What's a brief background?

During a Monday “Today” interview with NBC’s Craig Melvin, Clinton said that he did “the right thing” when it came to the Lewinsky scandal that hung like a dark cloud over his presidency.

Melvin also asked Clinton about the #MeToo movement and what its implications on Clinton might be if the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal occurred in 2018.

During the interview, Clinton doubled down on previous remarks that he’d made to “CBS Sunday Morning’s” Mo Rocca in response to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.’s) assertion that he should have resigned from the presidency.

Clinton also said that he would not have approached such allegations any differently today and would not have resigned because he didn’t “think it would be an issue.”

“People would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts,” Clinton explained.

“If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t [resign],” he continued, noting that “a lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work.”

About the affair, Clinton said, “I dealt with it 20 years ago. And the American people, two-thirds of them, stayed with me. And I’ve tried to do a good job since then with my life and with my work. That’s all I have to say to you.”

Melvin later went on to ask if Clinton had ever actually apologized to Lewinsky over the affair.

“I apologized to everybody in the world,” Clinton answered.

Undeterred, Melvin asked Clinton several times if the former president had personally apologized to Lewinsky.

Clinton said multiple times that he’d apologized publicly, but had “never talked to [Lewinsky].”

“I did say, publicly, on more than one occasion, that I was sorry,” Clinton responded. “That’s very different. The apology was public.”

What happened during the book signing?

WCBS-TV reported that Clinton's stop at Barnes & Noble to promote his book with James Patterson, "The President is Missing," was smattered with questions and remarks about his Monday interview in which he said that he never privately apologized to Lewinsky for their White House affair.

At one point, WCBS reporter Marcia Kramer asked Clinton if he thought he should apologize to other women who accused him of sexual misconduct, including Juanita Broaddrick, Gennifer Flowers, and Paula Jones.

"Mr. President, in light of the #MeToo movement is there anything you would like to say to the women who say they had affairs with you?" Kramer asked.

Clinton outright ignored Kramer's question, but she wasn't the only one asking such things.

According to WCBS, "aides had made it clear he didn’t want to say anything more than he had already said in the past few days about a public, not a personal, apology to Lewinsky."

WCBS interviewed several people who attended the book signing, and their comments about the former president's remarks about a Lewinsky apology were a mixed bag.

“I think he’s done that over and over throughout the years," one person said, according to the outlet.

Another added, “I think he should have done that 20 years ago, and I think anybody with a shred of common decency would have resigned the office at that time.”

“I think now would be a good time,” another attendee added.

Larry Levine, a resident of the Upper East Side, seemed to defend Clinton in a manner of sorts.

“Whatever he does, he’s going to get in trouble for it. If I were he, I would say it was a long time ago, I’m an old man, whatever I did, I can’t change,” Levine said. “Whatever he says, he’s going to be wrong.”

Anything else?

Clinton also appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Tuesday, where he discussed Monday's interview.

“I notice you did not enjoy that entire interview,” Colbert told Clinton. “Would you like a do-over on that answer?… Do you understand why some people thought it was a tone-deaf response?”

Clinton responded, “When I saw the interview, I thought that, because they had to distill it, it looked like I was saying I didn’t apologize, and I had no intention to. And I was mad at me – not for the first time.”

“Here is what I want to say," Clinton clarified. "It wasn’t my finest hour."

Clinton added that the "important thing" is that the affair was a "very painful thing that happened 20 years ago."

"I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family and the American people," he said. "I mean it then, I mean it now. I have had to live with the consequences every day since. I still believe this #MeToo movement is long overdue, necessary and should be supported."

Colbert took the former president to task and later quipped, "It doesn't matter how long ago it happened."

“With all due respect, sir, your behavior was the most famous example of a powerful man sexually misbehaving in the workplace, of my lifetime,” the late-night show host added.

Clinton explained that he'd already been asked the question as it pertained to the #MeToo movement and said that he had answered it thoroughly, noting that Monday's interview set him on edge because the tone was set that he had never apologized "and there had been no attempt to hold me accountable, which anybody who lived through that and knew the facts knew wasn’t so."



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