How `an old man' lured Lewinsky

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The Independent Online
MONICA LEWINSKY finally admitted last night what the rest of the world already knew: that Bill Clinton never loved her.

In an interview shown on Channel 4, Ms Lewinsky gave an animated account of her side of the affair with the President and admitted: "I do think that there is a right-wing conspiracy [against Mr Clinton] and I think I've definitely been used as a pawn."

Ms Lewinsky said before she met the President, he was just "an old man with wiry grey hair and a red nose - I did not find him remotely attractive". But in the flesh there was "a humungous contrast".

Ms Lewinsky revealed that for a long time she believed Mr Clinton was only interested in her because a regular girlfriend from the civil service had left the White House. She got close to the President because interns replaced civil servants during the shutdown of government caused by a senate budget crisis.

In a sympathetic interview by Jon Snow, Channel 4's main news presenter, Ms Lewinsky covered the scandal that led to the President's impeachment, including the notorious detail of the blue dress: "This dress was nothing and was really pretty irrelevant. It had no bearing on our relationship. [If they returned it to me] I'd burn it.

"The next time I went to put the dress on after I had been with the President it didn't fit. I had gained weight and yes, I noticed it had been soiled. It was funny and it didn't fit so back it went in the closet. I tended to get things dry-cleaned when I was gonna wear them again."

Because of a gagging agreement with the independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr, Ms Lewinsky was unable to discuss the details of her interrogation by nine FBI men, which she says made her contemplate suicide.

In the background during her interview with Mr Snow, lawyers could be heard arguing with Channel 4 producers, as his questions touched on the day of her arrest for alleged perjury during the Paula Jones investigation.

"I was terrified. Never been so afraid in my entire life. I lost my breath - the whole world flashed before my eyes, the room was spinning - it was terribly, terribly frightening."

It was after that moment that Ms Lewinsky confessed she thought about suicide to protect her family and the President from hurt.

The Channel 4 interview referred obliquely to a period of crisis in Ms Lewinsky's private life, but Mr Snow deliberately decided not to ask her about her abortion of another man's child while she was still in contact with the President. He said before the broadcast that he felt the abortion was off limits because the interview's point of interest was her relationship with Mr Clinton.

Mr Snow's interview was more serious than the one by Barbara Walters, for ABC in America. But it lacked the killer question that Ms Walters used to start her interview. Asking about the way Ms Lewinsky began the relationship by showing him her underwear, Ms Walters exclaimed: "How could you do that to a president?"