Monica Lewinsky was an intern in the Clinton White House in 1995 and 1996, during which the married president and the intern began an affair which ran until mid-1997. This affair came back to haunt Clinton in 1998 when it was revealed by Matt Drudge (on his website, the Drudge Report). Drudge revealed that Clinton (along with his close associate Vernon Jordan), had encouraged Monica Lewinsky to lie to lawyers in the ongoing Paula Jones case, in which the President was being sued for sexual harassment. After publicly denying the affair for several months, Clinton finally admitted to the affair on August 17, 1998. Shortly afterwards in September, a full report on the affair (and other matters) authored by special counsel Kenneth Starr, which accused the president of betraying his Constitutional duties through a series of "abundant and calculating lies." This led to the impeachment of Clinton on December 19, 1998.
Monica's Early Life
Monica Lewinsky was born on July 23, 1973 in San Francisco, California. Born into an upper class family, Lewinsky's childhood wasn't particularly unusual other than the benefits afforded her due to this status. She grew up in Beverly Hills, literally in the 90210 zip code. In 1989, when Monica was sixteen, her parents divorced, but she continued living an upper class lifestyle, graduating from Bel Air Prep in 1991.
Seeking some degree of "independence," Lewinsky attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, starting in September 1991. L&C was an expensive private college, so she continued to live among the financial aristocracy in America, enjoying all the benefits that the status accorded her.
The White House Years
Another benefit of this social status was the availability of professional advancement out of the reach of most people. Thus, after graduating from Lewis and Clark College in 1995 at age 21, Monica Lewinsky began an unpaid internship at the White House. She appeared just as the Clinton administration was gearing up for re-election.
Shortly after getting the internship, Lewinsky began a sexual relationship with Clinton. By the end of the year, she became a salaried employee in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, and then she moved on to a Defense Department position by April 1996.
While working at the Pentagon, Monica met Linda Tripp, a career government employee. After a while, their friendship blossomed, and Monica began to confide in Linda about her relationship with the president. Tripp, being the caring and honest friend that she was, began recording their telephone conversations in which Monica discussed her relationship with the president.
At the same time, Clinton was in hot water for various legal reasons, including the Whitewater real estate scandal as well as a sexual harassment suit filed by Paula Jones. It was because of the latter legal matter that Tripp began taping the conversations, convinced that some evidence concerning the Jones suit may be uttered.
Sure enough, that very thing happened. One of Lewinsky's conversations made mention of the situation with Paula Jones, in which Lewinsky was being called as a witness. At that point, Linda Tripp contacted the office of Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and provided copies of the tapes, which indicated that Bill Clinton and his friend Vernon Jordan may have strongly encouraged Lewinsky to lie under oath.
The Lid Blows Off
Once the legal situation got rolling, FBI agents and U.S. attorneys working in conjunction with Kenneth Starr questioned Lewinsky about the Jones situation and her relationship with Clinton in late 1997, offering her immunity in exchange for testimony. Her family hired William Ginsburg, a family friend, to represent Lewinsky in this legal matter.
For various reasons (some obvious and some not), Bill Clinton publicly denied having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. However, in January 1998, everyone's favorite internet rumor monger, Matt "Winchell" Drudge, broke the news story of the year on his website when he posted a story claiming that Lewinsky and Clinton had had an affair. When several other news organizations backed up this story, Miss Lewinsky entered into a media firestorm.
Even in the midst of the media and Republican sharks smelling blood in the water, Clinton continued to deny a relationship between himself and Lewinsky. Lewinsky, on the other hand, was in legal trouble herself; her testimony in the Paula Jones case was inherently flawed and she was looking at perjury charges herself.
In July 1998, Lewinsky reached an agreement with Starr in which she and her family received full immunity from all charges resulting from testimony. Along with this, she turned over a blue dress that contained physical evidence of her affair with Bill Clinton.
In August, both Lewinsky and Clinton testified before a grand jury. After the testimony, Clinton admitted publicly to having an affair with Monica Lewinsky.
In October 1998, the House of Representatives impeached the President for abuse of his office, perjury, obstruction of justice, and other charges. In January 1999, the President was tried by the Senate and was acquitted of all charges on February 12, 1999.
Lewinsky cashed in on her notoriety by appearing on several talk shows and sitcoms, making a series of advertisements for Weight Watchers, and launching a signature series of handbags. In late 1999, Lewinsky released her autobiography (written with Andrew Morton), Monica's Story.
Today she rests in semi-obscurity, but her name will forever be linked to impeachment and Bill Clinton.
For more information on the Lewinsky scandal, you may want to read up on the following people:
Hillary Rodham Clinton