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Monday 22 September 2014

Lewinsky opens up on Clinton affair

Published 07/05/2014 | 04:07

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Monica Lewinsky, pictured in 2001, said there was no question Bill Clinton "took advantage" of her (AP)

Monica Lewinsky has said there was no question her boss Bill Clinton "took advantage" of her when he was US president.

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But she said their affair was consensual and if there was any abuse involved, it came afterwards, when Mr 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, wrote about her life in the next issue of Vanity Fair magazine. In released excerpts, she said she was 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 Rodham Clinton considers running for president. Republicans have signalled they do not consider her husband's scandal from the late 1990s out of bounds in the realm of 2016-style political dialogue.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a likely Republican presidential contender, answered criticisms of the party's record on women's issues by saying in January that the last Democratic president engaged in "predatory behaviour" with a woman, Ms Lewinsky, who was 22 when her liaisons with Mr Clinton began in 1995.

Mr Clinton's lies about the relationship contributed to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998; the Senate acquitted him.

Ms Lewinsky wrote that she deeply regrets the affair and made a point of staying silent through several presidential campaigns to avoid becoming a distraction.

Now, she said, it was 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 Ms Clinton, she writes: "It's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress."

But these were not her first public words on the scandal. Ms Lewinsky broke her silence in 1999 with a blockbuster interview with renowned US broadcaster Barbara Walters, gave several subsequent interviews and co-operated with author Andrew Morton on his book the same year, entitled Monica's Story.

"Sure, my boss took advantage of me," she wrote in Vanity Fair, "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."

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