- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2003


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, acknowledging tirades and tears over her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, says President Clinton lied to her about the relationship until the weekend before he admitted as much to a grand jury.

The former first lady, now a Democrat senator from New York, vividly describes her pain over the betrayal in “Living History,” her new memoir covering her eight years in the White House. A copy of the book, which goes on sale Monday, was obtained by the Associated Press.

“The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York,” she writes.

She says she accepted her husband’s story at first — that he had befriended the White House intern when she asked for job-hunting help and he “had talked to her a few times,” and that the relationship had been horribly misconstrued.

“For me, the Lewinsky imbroglio seemed like just another vicious scandal manufactured by political opponents.”

More than six months later, with the president preparing to testify before a grand jury, Mrs. Clinton was still adamant that her husband had done nothing wrong and was the victim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Then, on the morning of Aug. 15, 1998, he woke her up, paced at the bedside, and “told me for the first time that the situation was much more serious than he had previously acknowledged.”

“He now realized he would have to testify that there had been an inappropriate intimacy. He told me that what happened between them had been brief and sporadic,” Mrs. Clinton writes.

He was ashamed and knew she would be angry, she recounts.

“I could hardly breathe. Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, ‘What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?’ I was furious and getting more so by the second. He just stood there saying over and over again, ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea.’”

Mrs. Clinton’s 562-page book has been highly anticipated. Simon & Schuster, expecting large sales, ordered an extraordinary first printing of 1 million copies.

The first lady-turned-senator was paid a $2.85 million advance toward the $8 million book deal. Foreign rights have already been sold in 16 countries. List price is $28.

The publisher billed the book as a complete, candid accounting of her years in the White House.

Mrs. Clinton said that up until that August morning when her husband confessed, she believed he was being railroaded and had merely been foolish by paying any attention to Miss Lewinsky. She was incredulous that he would endanger their marriage and family.

“I was dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged that I’d believed him at all.”

She ultimately decided she still loved her husband, although “as a wife, I wanted to wring Bill’s neck.”

She said her decision to run for a Senate seat from New York helped save their marriage.

“Bill and I were talking again about matters other than the future of our relationship. Over time, we both began to relax,” she writes.

She concludes that what her husband did was morally wrong, but not a betrayal of the public.

On the Whitewater matter that dogged much of their time in the White House, the former first lady acknowledges only “public relations mistakes in how we handled the growing controversy.”

“Whitewater never seemed real because it wasn’t.”

Mrs. Clinton portrays Whitewater partner Jim McDougall as an embittered man who threatened her several times when she tried to file overdue tax returns for the property.

The final report on the Whitewater investigation questioned the first lady’s truthfulness. Independent counsel Robert W. Ray’s report concluded that the Clintons’ mid-1980s Arkansas land venture benefited from criminal activity and that the president and his wife gave factually inaccurate testimony, but there was not enough evidence to prove the former first family engaged in wrongdoing.

Mrs. Clinton insists she will not consider entering the race for president this year, but has not ruled out a run in 2008.

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