The Lewinsky industry: `I almost killed myself in a hotel'

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The Independent Online
WHEN THEIR affair was hot, she called him "Handsome". When it cooled, he was "the big creep." In a television interview aired yesterday, Monica Lewinsky says President Bill Clinton was simply "100 per cent politician".

"I felt like a piece of trash. I felt dirty and I felt used and I was disappointed," the former White House trainee says in an ABC television interview with Barbara Walters.

In a separate interview with Channel 4's Jon Snow, whose conversation with Ms Lewinsky airs in Britain tonight, Ms Lewinsky says she briefly considered taking her own life when prosecutors first challenged her about her affair with the President.

The interviews were given to promote the book, Monica's Story. The book, by Andrew Morton, the biographer of Diana, Princess of Wales, is due out in Britain tomorrow.

In the Snow interview, Ms Lewinsky admits that such was her distress and confusion on the day she was first grilled by prosecutors from the office of Kenneth Starr, that suicide seemed a good solution. She tells Snow of the encounter last January in a Washington hotel.

"I remember looking out the window and thinking, `well, I can't begin to fathom what is going to unfold here and I can't begin to think of how this is going to hurt the President, hurt my family'. And I thought, `well, maybe if I'm not here, it won't happen'," she says.

The excerpts released by Channel 4 and ABC TV both show a young woman clearly exhausted by the trauma of the last 13 months and still suffering from conflicting feelings about Mr Clinton.

Recalling with Ms Walters the day last August when the President admitted to the affair, both in testimony to Mr Starr's grand jury and to the nation on network television, Ms Lewinsky says she felt then like "a piece of trash". Asked if she concluded that she had been "servicing" Mr Clinton all that time, she answers that that was "the impression he gave".

Ms Lewinsky describes the President as "a very sensual man" who may be unable to hold back his sexual impulses. "I think he struggles with his sensuality because I don't think he thinks it's OK," she tells Ms Walters. "I think he holds himself back. And then he can't."

There was speculation yesterday that Ms Lewinsky may face fresh trouble from Mr Starr because of some of her statements. Last month, the special prosecutor, who has granted her immunity from prosecution, agreed to the television interviews on the condition Ms Lewinsky did not discuss the conduct of his office.

While Ms Lewinsky apparently steers clear of Mr Starr with Ms Walters, she may have been less cautious with Jon Snow. In Monica's Story, she is thought to go into considerable detail about her experiences with Mr Starr and his associates. The book comes out in the US today.

About being forced to testify over and over about the relationship, Ms Lewinsky told Mr Snow: "This has been a humiliating, violating, frightening experience ... my innermost thoughts - intimate, private moments between two people - being discussed by others all over world. It's disgusting".

Yesterday, a White House spokesman dismissed as "fiction" claims that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, had blackmailed the President after an agent intercepted his passion-filled telephone chats with Ms Lewinsky. The allegations come in a book to be published in Britain next week.

According to Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon's Spies - the Secret History of Mossad, the Israeli agent recorded 30 hours of compromising conversations between the couple.