Friday, June 25, 2004

LONDON — Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky scorned Bill Clinton’s explanation that he had an affair with her “just because I could,” and accused the former president of failing to correct the record and make it clear in his new memoir that their relationship was mutual.

In her first public comments on the book “My Life,” Miss Lewinsky accused Mr. Clinton of trying to destroy her with his characterization of the affair as something dirty and wrong and argued the liaison was one of mutual affection.

“I really didn’t expect him to go into detail about our relationship” in the book, the 30-year-old Miss Lewinsky told the Daily Mail newspaper.

“But if he had and he’d done it honestly, I wouldn’t have minded. … I did, though, at least expect him to correct the false statements he made when he was trying to protect the presidency.

“Instead, he talked about it as though I had laid it all out there for the taking. I was the buffet, and he just couldn’t resist the dessert,” she was quoted as saying.

In an interview with Independent Television News (ITN) broadcast yesterday, Miss Lewinsky said she was especially upset by Mr. Clinton’s assertion on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he embarked on the affair “for the worst possible reason. Just because I could.”

“I was really upset when I first heard it,” Miss Lewinsky said.

She said she had spent the past several years trying to “move on” and build a life.

“It has been so difficult because of so many of the lies that he has told about me and about what happened,” she told ITN.

“I can understand someone wanting to save his presidency. But I don’t accept that he had to completely desecrate my character, which not only affected me, but my family, my friends and my future.”

Miss Lewinsky noted that when prosecutors began pressuring her about her affair with the president, she was the same age his 24-year-old daughter, Chelsea, is now.

“How would he feel if [Chelsea] was trashed by the person she had had the relationship with — a person who has denied it to save himself — if she was called a liar, a stalker, crazy, stupid?” the Daily Mail quoted Miss Lewinsky as saying.

She said Mr. Clinton, 57, tried to rewrite history in his book.

“Having read some accounts of what was in this book, I was already disappointed, but curious,” she told ITN. “Probably still a bit naive, thinking, well, maybe there’s a surprise, maybe he’ll be a different, more mature person than what we have seen in the past few days. But I was wrong.

“I really didn’t expect him to talk in detail about the relationship, because he is a married man and he has worked hard to stay married and it would be inappropriate, I think, to discuss the details.

“But what I was hoping, and did expect, was for him to acknowledge and correct the inaccurate and false statements that he, his staff and the [Democratic National Committee] made about me when they were trying to protect the presidency. His strategy to try and defeat [former special prosecutor] Ken Starr was to debase my character.

“In the process, he destroyed me.”

Miss Lewinsky said her relationship with Mr. Clinton had been mutual, “from the way it started, all the way through.”

“My memories of it were much more positive. I think that I had enjoyed someone being so happy to see me, and certainly the gifts that were exchanged were touching.”

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