“The statement [Clinton] he came into the room in the morning, I wasn’t up yet, he sat up in bed and told me he had to tell me a story that would be in the paper, ”recalls Hillary Clinton in one of the many long conversations with director Nanette Burstein. The then US President said it was about an alleged relationship with an intern in the White House.
“I had just woken up and couldn’t deal with the matter (…) He said it was unfounded, that was not true. It was categorical and convinced me. ”The next day, Clinton stood in front of the cameras and said the sentence that would jeopardize his presidency:“ I did not have sex with this woman, Miss Lewinsky. ”
The lie told live to the whole country was to be exposed weeks later in one of the scandals that shaped not only the life of the former president but also that of Hillary Clinton. In an unprecedented documentary series, the former first lady and foreign minister of the USA not only addresses the controversy surrounding Lewinsky, but also her long career in the service of feminist concerns, human rights and the public service.
A controversial figure who is often loved or hated led a violent campaign against Donald Trump. She was the first woman to run for the White House from either of America’s two major parties – a unique achievement – but she was also the biggest loser in the 2016 presidential election.
“Hillary,” produced by Hulu, made its debut on the North American platform in 2020 and is now finally arriving on Portuguese television. The four episodes begin airing this Tuesday, October 26th, and will be split into two parts. The second half will be broadcast on Wednesday, the 27th, on the “TV Cine Edition” channel at 10 pm.
The documentary miniseries premieres exactly on the day of Hillary’s 74th birthday and reveals not only herself, but Bill Clinton as well. All of the stories are told by themselves, friends and associates around them, as well as exclusive testimonies from their daughter Chelsea and their friend and former President Barack Obama.
Six months after the president refused to do anything to the woman in that room in the White House, the former president would make another confession at the exact same spot. “I sat on the bed and talked to her. I told him what happened when it happened. I explained to him that I felt bad about everything that had happened, especially what we had been through in the past few years, ”recalls Bill Clinton. “I have no defense. What I’ve done is unforgivable. “
“I was devastated. I couldn’t believe it,” admits Hillary when it has been more than 20 years since the scandal. “I was so hurt, I couldn’t believe I had lied. It was horrible.” He left only one request to her husband: If the case were to be made public, it would have to be he who would admit everything to her daughter before the press explodes.
“What I did was wrong,” recalls the former president. “I hated the fact that I hurt her, but we all carry some baggage for life, sometimes we do things we shouldn’t have done. And what I did was terrible. “
On the day of his presentation to the grand jury, Clinton could not deny the case as he was charged with perjury. He confessed the extramarital relationship he had with Monica Lewinsky in the corridors of the White House, and then repeated it again in front of the cameras in a statement to the nation.
Six months passed between the first rumors and the public confession, during which time Hillary Clinton was the first and foremost public defender of the American President. Days after the private conversation in the room in which Clinton denied everything, the first lady fulfilled her promise and presented herself on the couch of the “Today Show”, where she knew that she would be confronted with the alleged betrayal of her husband. Counselors advised her to abandon the program. Hillary refused.
The Lewinsky affair was not the only topic of conversation. Clinton had linked her name to other harassment cases involving the names Jennifer Flowers and Paula Jones. Hillary didn’t hesitate to answer.
“The President has unequivocally denied the allegations and we’ll see what happens. I think everyone is asking me how I can be so calm and not get upset. We have seen that many times, ”he replied, justifying this with constant attacks from the right. “Bill and I have been charged on everything, including murder, by the very people behind these charges.”
In hindsight, Hillary was right. The trial was led by Kenneth Starr, the same politician who led the investigation into the suicide of Vincent Foster, a government adviser, and who raised suspicions of the possible murder of the Clintons. Something that turned out not to be true.
While most Americans, Republicans, and even Democrats were against him, Bill Clinton found his greatest ally in Hillary during the six months that rumors penetrated the press, but especially after the private and public confessions of the extramarital affair. In the days following the reveal, the couple left the White House and sought refuge in their private home with their daughter.
All cameras were aimed at Hillary and gestures were analyzed with a magnifying glass. “I still haven’t spoken to him, I didn’t want anything to do with him,” the first lady at the time recalls. “He spent his time playing golf.”
Daughter Chelsea, holding hands with her parents on her first public appearance after her confession.
However, the nation seemed to sympathize with Hillary’s drama and public opinion was largely on their side. The first lady had never been so popular with the Americans. When he returned to Washington, that was his trump card in an unexpected battle.
Contrary to expectations, Hillary Clinton became the main opponent of the impeachment process that was imposed on her husband. “I carried the burden of being involved in the 1974 deportation process. I had researched what was considered a crime or a minor offense: I knew what the requirements for deportation were, and I knew they didn’t exist in it Case.”
“He shouldn’t have done what he did and shouldn’t have tried to hide it, but that wasn’t a reason to fire him,” Hillary recalls of her position.
It wasn’t the only help he gave the then president and husband, and especially the Democratic Party. Not only was he a public voice against impeachment, but he also served as the face of the presidency in the midterm election campaign. None of the candidates wanted to be seen next to the controversial president – but all wanted to take the stage hand in hand with the first lady.
“I kept sticking to my schedule because I thought it was important. To be honest, I didn’t want to continue to be portrayed as a victim. So every day I got up and went out to do what I could. “
What Hillary Clinton did was remarkable, and she is described by many as one of those responsible for the unlikely Democratic victory in the mid-term elections, even with a presidency in crisis and the risk of impeachment.
Almost a year after the Lewinsky case appeared in the newspapers, the Senate published its final impeachment decision – the final vote acquitted the President of allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice.
“I defended him and stood by him because I thought the removal process didn’t make sense, but that wasn’t necessarily my answer to what I would do in my marriage. They were different things for me, ”he remembers. “I still had to decide if I wanted to stay in this relationship, if I thought there was something worth saving.”
Hillary next to her husband while he (still) publicly denied the case.
The next few years were restless. The Clintons stayed together and solved their problems through the use of couples therapy. “Those were painful discussions,” admits the former first lady.
“The therapy was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was necessary. [A Hillary] deserved it, Chelsea deserved it and I needed them, ”admits the former president.
In the end, Hillary decided to move on with her husband. “There are those who think I made the right decision, others who think I made the wrong decision,” he clarifies. “I received praise and criticism for my decision. We live in weird times when public opinion has shifted from ‘it’s so noble that she stayed married’ to ‘incomprehensible that she should stay married’.
Not only did she hold onto her husband, but she used Bill Clinton’s retreat from political life to catapult her own ambitions. For years he was foreign minister and a leading figure in the Democratic Party. The only reason she could not fulfill her dream of holding the professorship that once belonged to her husband was because she was the victim of a difficult election campaign and had undermined much of what had happened to her in the past, both in her political and private life . It is the former president himself who recognizes him.
“I am infinitely grateful that she believed that what was left between us was enough to hold us together,” he confesses in the documentary. “God knows what a burden she had to bear because of that decision.”