The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation

By Steven M. Gillon | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FOURTEEN “Monica Changed
Everything”

EARIY ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, January 21, Erskine Bowles arrived at his office in the White House at his usual 7:00 AM starting time. He liked to spend a few hours getting caught up on the news in preparation for his daily 9:00 AM briefing with the president. The day was already packed with events, and Bowles was trying to wrap up the details of the State of the Union address scheduled for the following week. While some White House officials had learned the previous evening that the Washington Post was running a story about the president having an illicit affair with an unnamed White House intern, Bowles learned about it for the first time when he opened the paper sitting on his desk. There across four columns at the top of the paper read the headline: “Clinton Accused of Urging Aide to Lie; Starr Probes Whether President Told Woman to Deny Alleged Affair to Jones’s Lawyers.”1

The story, and investigations that followed, revealed the intrigue taking place behind the scenes to bring down the Clinton presidency. After their initial encounter on November 15, 1995—the second day of the government shutdown—the president and Monica Lewinsky continued their clandestine meetings for the next twenty months. After the lovesick Lewinsky was transferred to work in the Pentagon, a conniving Linda Tripp befriended her and cajoled her to share the tales of her sexual trysts with the president, which she secretly taped. Eventually, there would be seventeen tapes covering twenty hours of conversation. Through an interlocking network of conservative lawyers and activists, Tripp managed to tip off the attorneys for Paula

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