Bill Clinton Addresses Weinstein, Franken, Changing Norms

Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Franken

Former President Bill Clinton promoted the new political thriller he wrote with James Patterson Thursday in an interview with PBS’s Judy Woodruff, who grilled him on Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, and changing sexual harassment “norms.”

In the context of the #MeToo Movement, Woodruff asked Clinton, who was at one time close personal friends with the disgraced film producer, if he ever had any inkling of Weinstein’s increasingly well-documented sexual misdeeds.

“I’ve thought about this a lot, but every time we were together — I believe — over those years, was either at a charity event or a political event, if he was alone, or when his family was around,” the former president told Woodruff. “So I didn’t know. No one ever said anything to me. ”

Woodruff turns her attention to anther “MeToo’d” Clinton confidante, resigned Minnesota Senator Al Franken. Clinton offered something of a defense of Franken, who was photographed with hands cupped over a sleeping woman’s breasts over her body armor vest. The woman, Leeann Tweeden, also accused Franken of aggressively kissing her during a skit rehearsal. Clinton told Woodruff:

The Franken case, for me, was a difficult case, a hard case. There may be things I don’t know. But I — maybe I’m just an old-fashioned person, but it seemed to me that there were 29 women on Saturday Night Live that put out a statement for him, and that the first and most fantastic story was called, I believe, into question.

Too late to wade into it now. I mean, I think it’s a grievous thing to take away from the people, a decision they have made, especially when there is an election coming up again. But it’s done now.

Clinton also addressed the most famous of his own sex scandals, telling Woodruff, “The price that I paid mostly was the pain I caused to my wife and daughter and feeling terrible about the exposure she had, and the way I let me staff down, the Cabinet. I mean, it was awful. But I had to live with this.”

Monica Lewinsky also paid “quite a price” Clinton acknowledged, saying:

I was glad to see when she went back to school and made another career, had a television show, gave a really compelling TED Talk, you know, did other things — is that I was afraid that, you know, she would be frozen in the public mind for the rest of her life and what happened.

“In general, I think it’s a good thing,” Clinton said when asked about changing norms around sex and conduct. “I think it’s a good thing that we should all have higher standards.”

“I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work,” Clinton explained. “You don’t have to physically assault somebody to make them, you know, uncomfortable at work or at home or in their other — just walking around. That, I think, is good.”

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