Classic Scandal of the Month: Monica Lewinsky


On the first Thursday of every month, we throw it back to a classic political scandal. Today: the GOAT American sex scandal.

The Scandal: President receives blowjob, denies receiving blowjob, lies under oath, is impeached.

The Scandalized: President Bill Clinton.

The Short Version: From 1995 to 1997, Bill Clinton had an affair with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

At the time, Clinton was already dealing with two other scandals. First, there was the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Looking to establish a pattern of sleaziness, Jones’ lawyers sniffed around at rumors of the Lewinsky affair. Then there was the Whitewater scandal, which is a Classic Scandal of the Month for another month. For our purposes, just know that Whitewater had prompted an independent investigation headed up by Kenneth Starr, who used his broad powers to look at all the testimony from the Jones scandal, too.

Lewinsky had been confiding in a friend named Linda Tripp. That wasn’t the best idea, because Tripp was busy recording their conversations. When Lewinsky asked Tripp to help her lie in the Jones case, Tripp handed her tapes over the Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who must have been pretty stoked.

Then the story was broken by Drudge Report (yes, that Drudge Report), and Clinton was forced to respond. He famously declared that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

But Clinton very much did have sexual relations with that woman, and he was forced to admit to an “improper physical relationship” in grand jury testimony. That contradicted statements he made under oath in the Jones case. Clinton explained the discrepancy by asserting that he understood the term “sexual relations” to cover having sex and giving oral sex, but not receiving oral sex, which is all that he claimed to have done (selfish!).

Clinton’s sexy wordplay did not convince Kenneth Starr or the Republicans in the Capitol, and he was impeached. However, the Senate failed to vote to convict him, and he remained in office.

Scandal Level: 4 Starrs.

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