TIME politics

5 Shocking Things Monica Lewinsky Told TIME About the Clinton Affair in 1999

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky reignited conversation about her affair with President Bill Clinton this week, thanks to a forthcoming Vanity Fair story titled “Shame and Survival.”

Lewinsky has kept a low profile since the affair. When she has returned to the spotlight, she has often drawn controversy. In 1999, Lewinsky gave a rare interview to TIME. See what she had to say about her mistakes, humiliation and becoming a celebrity.

1) She had regrets.

“I really feel the worst about what this has done to my family and friends. And then I think second to that would be Chelsea and Mrs. Clinton, and I do feel bad about my part in how the country has had to deal with this. I made a lot of mistakes. I mean, that’s probably a bipartisan issue. Everybody in the world would agree on that.”

2) She thought she was “pretty discreet.”

“I didn’t have the maturity to realize exactly how serious this was. Although some people may find this hard to believe, me actually only telling 10 people was being pretty discreet for me. But I still feel horrible about how indiscreet I was. That was a real betrayal. I betrayed the President in that way. I didn’t have the foresight to see what the possible ramifications of this could be. “

3) Talking is the best (and worst) punishment.

“I got into trouble because I didn’t stop talking about the relationship, and now my punishment is that I have to keep talking about it.”

4) It’s all about eye contact.

“It was definitely inappropriate. And the way he was flirting with me was inappropriate. So I think was the eye contact. And the way he looks at women he’s attracted to. He undresses you with his eyes. And it is slow, from the bottom of your toes to the top of your head back down to your toes again. And it’s an intense look. He loses his smile. His sexual energy kind of comes over his eyes, and it’s very animalistic. And if you’re someone who is comfortable with your sensuality, you’re in touch with that, you’re receptive to it if you find that person attractive.”

5) She didn’t want to be celebrated.

“I don’t consider [myself] a celebrity, because I think that the root of the word is celebrated: someone society should celebrate, and while I haven’t given autographs, people have asked, which is so bizarre to me. I don’t feel that I should be honored for what I’m known for.”

Read TIME‘s entire exclusive interview with Monica Lewinsky here.

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