President Breaks Silence on Monica Lewinsky|
Clinton Faces the Nation
Aug. 17, 1998
Following is the text of President Clinton’s address
to the nation on his relationship with Monica
This afternoon in this room, from this chair, I testified
before the Office of Independent Counsel and the grand jury.
I answered their questions truthfully, including questions
about my private life, questions no American citizen would
ever want to answer.
Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions,
both public and private. And that is why I am speaking to you
As you know, in a deposition in January, I was asked
questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While
my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer
Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that
was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a
critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for
which I am solely and completely responsible.
But I told the grand jury today and I say to you now that
at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence
or to take any other unlawful action.
I know that my public comments and my silence about this
matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even
my wife. I deeply regret that.
I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First,
by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my
I was also very concerned about protecting my family. The
fact that these questions were being asked in a politically
inspired lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, was a
In addition, I had real and serious concerns about an
independent counsel investigation that began with private
business dealings 20 years ago, dealings, I might add, about
which an independent federal agency found no evidence of
any wrongdoing by me or my wife over two years ago.
The independent counsel investigation moved on to my
staff and friends, then into my private life. And now the
investigation itself is under investigation.
This has gone on too long, cost too much and hurt too
many innocent people.
Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love
most—my wife and our daughter—and our God. I must put it
right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so.
Nothing is more important to me personally. But it is
private, and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family.
It’s nobody’s business but ours.
Even presidents have private lives. It is time to stop the
pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives
and get on with our national life.
Our country has been distracted by this matter for too
long, and I take my responsibility for my part in all of this.
That is all I can do.
Now it is time—in fact, it is past time—to move on.
We have important work to do—real opportunities to
seize, real problems to solve, real security matters to face.
And so tonight, I ask you to turn away from the spectacle
of the past seven months, to repair the fabric of our national
discourse, and to return our attention to all the challenges and
all the promise of the next American century.
Thank you for watching. And good night.
Copyright 1998 by The Associated Press. All Rights
Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.