New episodes come out every Tuesday for free, with 1-week early access for Wondery+ subscribers.
Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
Tue, 09 Nov 2021 08:01
Monica Lewinsky struggles to build a life on the West Coast. But soon, she gets a chance to start over, and takes a prestigious internship at the White House.
Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/americanscandal.
Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Sarah Flint Shoes - Get $50 off your first Sarah Flint purchase at sarahflint.com/as.
Zebra - Compare quotes for free thezebra.com/as
To listen to American scandal one week early and add free, join Wondry Plus in the Wondri app. Download the Wondri app in your Apple or Google Play mobile app store today. A listener note, this episode contains adult content and may not be suitable for a younger audience. It's January 16, 1998 in Pentagon City, Virginia. Inside a large mall, hundreds of shoppers mill about. Blan music plays over the speakers and the smell of corn dogs wafes out from the food court. Outside a department store, Monica Lewinsky stands staring at a windows display. She gasps and eagerly claps her hands together as she gazes at the colorful throw pillows and oversized candles. Anyone watching her would think she's enthralled by home decor. But for Lewinsky, this is all a performance. There are two FBI agents looming behind her, monitoring her every move and somehow she needs to distract them so she can find a payphone and make an urgent call. The fate of the presidency depends on it. As she turns from the window, Lewinsky glances at her own reflection. She's only 24 years old, but her brown eyes look sunken and her skin pale. It's no surprise why Lewinsky looks so exhausted. She just spent five hours locked in a cramped hotel room across the street. She was surrounded by federal agents and government lawyers, men who were pressuring her to betray her lover. The man she calls Handsome, whereas the rest of the world knows him, President Bill Clinton. But Lewinsky would never betray Clinton. And that's why she has to find a payphone. She needs to warn him that prosecutors have proof of their affair. The Republicans have been investigating Clinton for years, and tomorrow, attorneys will ask him under oath whether he and Lewinsky have had sexual relations. If the president says no, he'll purge her himself and commit a felony. He could be impeached, even removed from office. Lewinsky won't let it happen. Lewinsky turns and continues through the mall, the two agents at her side. This stroll is a lucky break. After being questioned inside the hotel room for hours, she convinced the investigators to let her walk around the mall while they wait for her mother to arrive from New York. It's heater that she hopes to find a payphone. And as she and the agents pass through the crowds, suddenly Lewinsky hatches a plan. Well boys, how about Macy's? They have something for everyone. The taller agent, the one in charge, checks his watch. Okay, but that's the last door. We've got to go back to the hotel. Well thank you, aren't you just as sweet as? We're going to have so much fun. Come on. Lewinsky feels ridiculous, but for this plan to work, these two agents need to think she's nothing but a simple innocent girl. A moment later, they arrive at Macy's. Okay, what should we check out for us? How about the men's section? Miss Lewinsky, me and my fellow agent, we don't need to do any shopping. Oh, I don't know. Look at you. Black suits are so boring. You could use this blasher color, maybe a tie or a pocket square. Miss Lewinsky, I don't think that would be appropriate. And you know, we really should be getting back to the hotel. Oh, just a few more minutes. I need some fresh air. I'll be focused when we start talking again. I swear it's in your self interest, gentlemen. All right, Miss Lewinsky, a few more minutes. Good. Now, let's see. The whiskey turns to the store directorie scanning it frantically. Then she sees the symbol for a payphone on the third floor. Now she just needs to get there without the agent's following her. But I need a favor to ask. Would you mind if I run to the little girl's room? Can't it wait to her back at the hotel? No, you know, lady issues. Lewinsky's heart pounds against her ribcage as the agent scrutinizes her. All right, be quick. Thank you. You're too kind. Lewinsky walks away as calmly as she can to the escalator. Her legs trembling. As soon as she reaches the third floor, she races to the payphone. Right now, there's only one person who can get a message to Clinton who understands the urgency of the moment. And so with her hands shaking, Lewinsky drops in a quarter, dials the number, and waits as the phone rings. The whiskey's mouth goes dry as the phone keeps ringing and ringing. She's running out of time. And if they don't pick up and she can't get this message to Clinton, his presidency may be over. American scandals sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny, and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well, we agree on that, too. Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space, and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, Siting, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to sachiart.com and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. Hi, this is famous Formula One driver, Will Arnett. Join me in comedian, Mika Hakenen, on our new Formula One radio program, The Fast and Loosed Post Show live on amp every race Sunday. Download the amp app today and follow amp presents f1 to join the show. From Wondery, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scan. For many, Monica Lewinsky is a symbol of everything that was immoral about President Bill Clinton and American life in the 1990s. But the Clinton Lewinsky affair was much more than a sex scandal. Political commentators consider Clinton's presidency and his fraught impeachment trial to be a turning point in American politics. It was the start of an increased polarization between the country's two political parties, a snarling animosity that hasn't let up. And in the era of the Me Too movement, there's been a new reckoning with Lewinsky's story. The young White House intern was originally seen as a temptress who lured Clinton to his political demise. But more recently, the public has come to view Lewinsky as the victim, a 22 year old who was taken advantage of by the most powerful man in the world. Yet Lewinsky was more than just a litmus test for feminism or a symbol of political dysfunction. Before she met the president, she was a young woman with her own hopes and her own dreams. Lewinsky battled complicated feelings about infidelity and sought to build a new life in the nation's capital. This is episode one for Bid and Love. It's December 1992 in Beverly Hills, California. Inside a cut rate motel room, Monica Lewinsky removes her cart again and drapes it over a lampshade. Blamp casts a warm red glow over the room and Lewinsky nods to herself. This motel may not be the built more, but with the right lighting, at least you don't see the peeling paint or the stains on the bedspread. Lewinsky surveys the room, trying to see if she's missed anything. Then it hits her, champagne. She's 19 years old and too young to buy it herself, but she could have asked a friend. Disappointment suddenly floods through her with a painful force and Lewinsky digs her nails into her palm. She's always messing up. But Lewinsky breathes slowly in recovers. She reminds herself that even without champagne and even in this cheap motel, tonight will be amazing. Because tonight she and her boyfriend are finally going to make love. Lewinsky will lose her virginity to an incredible man, someone smart, creative, handsome. It's going to be a magical evening, and at the end she'll finally feel beautiful and worthy. There's a knock on the door that startles Lewinsky. This is it. She races to the door and flames it open. And they are standing in the doorway, she finds Andy Blylar. He's 26 years old, seven years older than Lewinsky. With his long blonde hair and pale blue eyes, he's so gorgeous she can barely look at him. Lewinsky knows that Blylar isn't the best choice for a boyfriend. He works for the drama department at her former school Beverly Hills High. And before she even met him, Lewinsky had heard the gossip, how he shamelessly flirted with students and co workers. He seems like the kind of man you're supposed to avoid. But everything changed when Blylar picked her. Lewinsky is nothing like the slim, perfect blonde girls who populate Beverly Hills. She has dark hair and a curvy body, and she's always felt something of an ugly duckling. But Andy tells her she's beautiful. And when he says it, she believes it. As he steps into the motel, Blylar leans down and kisses Lewinsky. Instantly everything feels okay. She doesn't think about how her dad cheated on her mom, or how she's been struggling with her weight. She doesn't fixate on attending community college instead of a four year school like her friends. When she's with Andy, everything is fine. Soon Blylar guides her over to the bed and asks if she's ready. Lewinsky nods. He slowly undresses her, but she doesn't feel embarrassed or shy. And as they begin, seeing Andy respond to her touch makes her feel powerful. Soon it's over. And Lewinsky lies her head on Blylar's chest as he strokes her hair. Lewinsky feels like she's floating in a bubble where nothing can touch her, where she's entirely safe. After several minutes, he kisses her temple and whispers that he needs to tell her something. Lewinsky smiles, ready to hear three words that might make this night truly perfect. But then his voice nonchalant, Andy drops a bomb. He says that his wife Kate is pregnant. Lewinsky struggles to breathe. Now she feels the wedding ring on Blylar's left hand. The one she's been ignoring all night. It's hard and cold against her bare waist. Blylar has been married for over a year. His wedding was just a few months before he and Lewinsky first kissed. And of course, he and his wife want kids. Still the news comes as a painful shock. Lewinsky rolls off Blylar's chest, somehow manages to hold back tears. It's devastating. All this time she thought maybe, somehow, things would turn out differently. Not that Andy would leave his wife. Lewinsky wouldn't want to be the source of someone else's pain. And even though she knew that her relationship with Andy was bound to end, she still clung on to some sort of hope. But now Lewinsky realizes it was foolish, naive. What she needs to do now is get out of LA and far away from Andy. She needs to start living a real life. Stop living a fantasy. It's the spring of 1994 and over a year later. Monika Lewinsky walks down a shaded street in Portland, Oregon. She gazes at the leafy green trees and breathes in the cool, misty air of the Pacific Northwest. Feel so fresh and different from Los Angeles. As she walks down a residential street, Lewinsky notices a group of students studying on a grassy lawn. She adjusts her book back as she passes by and can't help but grin. Finally, Lewinsky feels like she's in the right place and her life is on track. Last fall, she transferred to Lewis and Clark College, a liberal art school in Portland. She's majoring in psychology and she began interning for an organization that serves mentally ill teenagers. The work has been meaningful, and here at school she's surrounded by smart, intellectually curious students. Lewinsky has a sense that she's finally part of something big and important, much more so than her life back in LA. And today, Lewinsky has even more reason to be in a good mood. She is news to share with her housemates, and she hopes they'll be impressed with her accomplishment. Lewinsky reaches her house and throws open the door. As she steps inside, she finds her housemates gathered in the living room, smoking cigarettes and debating welfare reform. Lewinsky flops onto the shabby brown couch in the center of the room. Politics aren't exactly her thing and she only half follows the discussion, but she needs to wait for them to finish before she can announce her news. There's a pause in the conversation. Lewinsky sits up to speak, but before she can, one of her roommates spins up again, arguing passionately about another outrageous development with welfare reform. The debate carries on. Lewinsky hovering unnoticed in the background, but finally she gets impatient and lets out a school heel. She tells her roommates that something really exciting happened today and she needs to tell them. Her housemates fall quiet, and with all eyes on her, Lewinsky tells them she got up the nerve and pitched the idea at work. Her organization, where she works with mentally ill teenagers, is going to let her take 80 teens to a local theater production and experience that could change their lives. The room remains silent, and for a moment Lewinsky fears that she may have blundered. Maybe her idea was a bad one, but then her roommates break out and cheers, begin showering her with congratulations. They say they're proud of her, they're glad to see her so enthusiastic, confident. She seems like an entirely different person than when she first moved in. Lewinsky grins, agreeing. She knows a big part of it was getting away from Andy Blylar. Those last nine months with him were a rollercoaster. They break up and Lewinsky would swear it was the last time. But then without fail she'd go running back. There was something about Andy she couldn't resist. But that's all behind her now. She's even started to think about going to graduate school to get a PhD in psychology. She likes how the field demands that you use both your heart and your brain. And Lewinsky appreciates that in psychology, she can talk about certain taboo subjects she's interested in, like sacks. As Lewinsky answers more of her housemates questions, suddenly the telephone rings. Lewinsky reaches over to grab the receiver. She's been expecting a call from her mother. But the voice on the other line catches her by surprise. It's Andy Blylar. He tells Lewinsky he has some news. He and his family are moving to Portland. Lewinsky gross nauseated. He can't move here. Her life was just getting started. Andy will ruin everything. So with her voice trembling Lewinsky asks for an explanation. Blylar says he doesn't want to raise his son in LA. He remembers something Lewinsky once said how she hated growing up in Beverly Hills that it's not the kind of experience a child should have. Lewinsky is surprised that Blylar remembers this. He must have been paying attention when she spoke. And suddenly that old feeling of warmth starts spreading through her body. The Lewinsky had wanted to get away from Andy and her old life. She was ready to carve out a path for herself to do something important in the world. And in that sense she's gotten everything she wanted. She has smart friends, meaningful work. She has plans to go to grad school, earn a doctorate. Lewinsky is on the right track. But if Andy comes to Portland, there's going to be no stopping it. She will fall back on old pallets. And her life could fall apart. It's the spring of 1995 in Portland, Oregon. Marsha Lewis sits in an upscale bistro. Her carefully coiffed blonde hair framing her angular face. She raises a glass of champagne toward her daughter, Monica Lewinsky. And together the two women toast to Lewinsky's recent graduation from college. Lewis glances around the restaurant. The wood paneled walls and white tablecloths create the perfect ambience for a celebratory meal. But Lewis isn't feeling especially jubilant. Partly it's jet lag. Lewis flew in last night from Washington, D.C., where she recently moved to be closer to her sister. But mostly it's because Lewinsky is back in the clutches of Andy Blyler. Lewis hates what happens to her daughter when she's with that man. Lewinsky is a spirited, capable young woman. A Blyler turns her into some sort of zombie. Worse, Lewinsky bombed her grad school entrance exam. And Lewis is convinced it's because she blew off studying to spend time with Blyler. It seems Lewinsky is willing to throw away her future on a nobody. But Lewis is determined to change things. Lewis hides her daughter who's making her way through a salad. So Monica, graduate schools on whole. What's the plan for next year? Well, I kind of want to apply for a full time job at the Public Defenders office. My internship there is great. I love it. So that would mean staying in Portland. Yes, mom, in Portland. I have a house and friends. And I know you don't like me being with Andy. You don't even like being with Andy. I've lost count how many times you've broken up with him. You yourself has said repeatedly that it's an unhealthy relationship. I know. It's just something about him. Monica, this might hurt, but you need to listen. I know you're hungry for validation. It's almost a craving. Excuse me? Mom, what are you trying to say? What I'm trying to say, honey, is that that craving? It's the wrong impulse. You are beautiful. You're bright. And you deserve better than a life built around an unavailable man. Yeah, Lewinsky sets down her for and looks off into the distance. Well, you could be right. But it's complicated. I don't want to go back to LA. Don't go back to LA. Come to Washington. Live with me. You know, I have a friend. He's got a grandson who interned at the White House. He had an amazing time. You could do that too. The White House? No, they'd never accept me. I don't know anything about politics. Honey, you'd be an intern. You just have to be smart and willing to work hard and you're both of those things. No, I don't know. Lewis grabs a hole in Lewinsky's hand and looks her in the eye. Monica just applied. Look, my friend is he's a big donor to the Democrats and he'll put in a good word. And if you get the job, you'd be prestigious. It could make your applications to graduate school stand out. Lewinsky lifts her for and takes a bite of her salad. She chooses deliberately. She thinks it over. Okay, well, I can apply. I'm not going to get in though. Lewis takes a big cup of wine and hides a tramp in smile. Her daughter may not believe in herself, but Lewis is certain that with her friend's help, Lewinsky would be selected for an internship. She'll move to Washington and start working at the White House. Lewis can see it clearly. Finally, Lewinsky will get a fresh start. Maybe if she's lucky, her daughter will even meet a nice, eligible young man in Washington. She'll be 3000 miles away from Pandy Bliley. American scandal is sponsored by Sarah Flint. You know that saying a job can be done well, fast and inexpensively, pick two. There's a similar one for women's shoes. Looks, comfort, or quality, pick two. But you're a discerning demanding woman who wants all three. Who's designing beautiful shoes for women and making them meant to be walked in? Sarah Flint is offering style without sacrifice. You get looks, quality, and this is key comfort. Every part of their shoes is 100% handcrafted in Italy by skilled artisans at family owned factories that have been around for generations. Each pair includes smart details like extra padding, a wider toe box, and shaped insoles. Shoes that walk the walk and at hundreds less than other designer brands you pay for quality and nothing else. Style icons like Lady Gaga, Amal Clooney, and my wife, in her perfect pump 85s, have all been seen stepping out in Sarah Flint shoes. Step into quality, design, and comfort in a pair of Sarah Flint shoes. As a special welcome offer for American scandal listeners, you'll get $50 off your first Sarah Flint purchase. When you go to Sarah Flint dot com slash a s, that's Sarah Flint dot com slash a s for $50 off. One more time, Sarah Flint dot com slash a s. Officially one hour until your favorite show premieres, time to get some snacks delivered through Instacart. Okay, let's get some popcorn, seltzer, chocolate covered almonds, and wait, did they release the whole season? Better cart some ice cream for the two part finale. When your day should be ending, but a new season is starting, the world is your cart. Visit Instacart.com or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for a limited time, minimum order $10 additional terms apply. It's July 1995 in Washington, DC. Monica Lewinsky, now 21 years old, hustles through an administrative building near the White House. She moves as fast as she can in her black leather pumps and pencil skirt. It's not exactly easy to move around in this outfit, but Lewinsky needs to hurry and she needs to stay perfectly balanced. In her hands are two steaming cups of coffee. A moment later, Lewinsky arrives at her office and looks at the clock. She's right on time, not a minute late getting back from lunch. She just started her White House internship two weeks ago and she's been working hard, staying on her best behavior. But when she arrives at her cubicle, she finds her boss waiting for her, checking her watch. She's an imposing woman in a tailored pantsuit and as always seems annoyed with Lewinsky. Lewinsky doesn't understand her boss. She didn't do anything wrong. Still, that's why she came bearing a gift. Lewinsky smiles as she holds out the hot cup of coffee, hoping to win a little good will from the boss. For a moment, her boss hesitates, studying Lewinsky's face. It's like she's searching for some hidden motive. Then she grabs the coffee and tells Lewinsky to follow her. Before Lewinsky can say another word, her boss takes off so Lewinsky trails behind her. As she hurries through the government building, Lewinsky shakes her head and frustration. She really doesn't understand her boss, but more than that, she doesn't understand Washington. At first, Lewinsky was excited to start this internship, but as soon as she stepped foot in Washington, she fell out of place. Everyone in the nation's capital treats you with suspicion, like it's a crime to do something just because it's nice. So it's been a brutal couple of weeks, and more than anything, Lewinsky wants to quit and go home. But she promised herself that she'd get through it. The internship is only four more weeks, so no matter how bad it gets, she's going to finish what she started and then get back to studying for the GRE and getting ready for grad school. Lewinsky has also made another promise to herself, even once she's done in Washington, she's going to continue staying far away from Andy Bliler. As she walks through the administrative building near the White House, Lewinsky picks up her pace trying to catch up with her boss. Apparently the gift of the coffee didn't have much of an effect. Her boss starts barking orders, saying they have a meeting to get to, and Lewinsky needs to stop goofing off and wasting time. Lewinsky is about to defend herself, when suddenly her boss pushes through a doorway and begins making her way across a side street. Lewinsky follows her into another building with a heavily secured door. When she steps inside, Lewinsky is hit with a smell of eucalyptus. Gold drapes hang from the windows, and thick mahogany doors line the hallway. The whole place hums with power, and that's when Lewinsky realizes where she is. She's in the West Wing of the White House. A smile spreads across her face. Her boss notices her awestruck look, and using a stern tone reminds Lewinsky that she can never come here on a company. She has a pink badge on her chest. That marks her as an intern for the Chief of Staff's office, but you're only allowed in the West Wing if your badge is blue. Lewinsky nods, annoyed. She learned all about the color coded badges during orientation. It's abundantly clear that she's on the bottom wrong. Her boss turns, and they continue passing nondescript door. A stone faced man in a dark suit stands directly outside. Without meaning to, Lewinsky pauses. And before she can ask the question, her boss says that yes, this is the door to the Oval Office. When the door is closed, and an agent is posted outside, it means the president is in his office. Lewinsky can't believe it. Behind that door is the president of the United States. She's feet away from the most powerful person in the world. There's something intoxicating about it, being that close to that much power. But before she can dwell on the feeling any longer, a hand drips her by the shoulder, spinning her around. Her boss stands over her, looking annoyed once again. She barks another order, and then leads Lewinsky down the hallway into yet another meeting, another grueling afternoon. A few days later, Monica Lewinsky sits eating lunch with a group of female interns in the packed cafeteria for White House employees. Lewinsky listens as Sarah, a recent Harvard graduate, holds court. Sarah has established herself as the alpha of this group of women. And as usual, the conversation centers on their ambitions for the future. Sarah announces that she plans to attend law school, and then run for Congress. She's aiming to become Speaker of the House. Lewinsky listens as other young women pipe in with their lofty goals, Secretary of State, Chief of Staff, Supreme Court Justice. For all of them, it seems this internship is just the first step in a story political career. Lewinsky keeps her focus on her salad. She's been avoiding questions about her own plans for the future. The West Wing is exciting, but she's not sure she's meant for politics, and she fears that the other interns will look down on more modest goals. But as if reading her mind, Sarah suddenly turns to Lewinsky. She says they haven't heard from her yet what about her five year plan? Lewinsky doesn't want to face their ridicule. She's just hoping to make it past this conversation and get back to work. So she covers her mouth, indicating that she's chewing they should just move on. But Sarah waits patiently for her to finish. And when Lewinsky swallows, she tries to think of something that will appease or maybe impress these ambitious young women. But Lewinsky can't think of a lie quickly enough. So she tells them the truth. She's planning to apply to graduate school and psychology. For a moment, the other interns stare at her, blankly. Lewinsky feels her cheeks go red. Yet again, she feels like an alien in this buttoned up world. She stammer's trying to think of something else to say. When thankfully the group's attention has drawn away, another intern sits down at the table, her eyes sparkling, grinning from ear to ear. The intern blurt sit out. She just saw the president. She leans forward and in a low voice. She admits that he's even sexier in person than he is on TV. Lewinsky wrinkles her nose and confusion. Did this young intern really just say that President Clinton was sexy? Lewinsky's heard some chatter among the older women in her office, saying that Clinton is charming and handsome. But she never expected to hear that from someone her own age. Bill Clinton is pushing 50. He has gray hair and a big red nose. There's nothing handsome, let alone sexy about him. Lewinsky also knows that the president has faced serious allegations. Like most of the country, she's heard about Jennifer Flowers, a woman in Arkansas who once said she had an affair with Clinton for years. And then there's Paula Jones, the woman who accused Clinton of sexual harassment. The Republicans have had a field day with that one. And there are also rumors that Clinton's marriage is based on political self interest, not love, and that he's sleeping with White House staff. But all of that sounded like ugly gossip. Lewinsky steals a glance at Sarah, the alpha of the group, expecting her to reprimand the other intern. It's unprofessional to talk about the president's sex appeal. But to Lewinsky's surprise, Sarah leans forward excitedly and asks if the president was wearing his blue tie, the one that plays off his eye so well. Lewinsky shakes her head and disbelief. These interns say they have a noble calling that they want to be future leaders of democracy. But here they are, engaging in teenage gossip. The hypocrisy and self deception is astonishing. As Lewinsky continues listening, her resolve grows crystal clear. She's going to finish this internship. She's going to ace her graduate school exam. She's going to get back to the West Coast as soon as she can. A week later, Monica Lewinsky steps onto the south lawn of the White House alongside her mother. The two women walk up to a cord of gold ropes surrounded by dozens of people. Nearby, a gaggle of photographers and reporters stand in their pen holding notepads and cameras. Like all the other guests, Lewinsky and her mother are waiting for President Clinton to arrive. He's about to meet with the president of South Korea in a celebratory public event. Lewinsky felt lucky when she got the invitation to this event. It was a favor from her mother's friend, the prominent Democratic Party donor. But so far, it's not going so well. Lewinsky is wearing a sleeveless linen dress and a wide sun hat, but sweat is pouring down her neck. It's a merciless summer day in Washington. With air so humid, Lewinsky feels like she's cocooned in a wet wool blanket. She's even wearing she might pass out. Lewinsky taps her mom on the shoulder. Mom, I need to get out of here. I feel like I'm dying. What? Monica, no, absolutely not. My friend pulled a lot of strings for us to be here. Seriously, mom, I'm going to faint. I need to go. No, no, no, no. Look, Tim, Lewinsky turns and sees President Clinton emerging from the White House, along with South Korea's president. The two leaders strut across the lawn as a crowd of plants. Oh, he's so much taller than he looks on TV, Monica. Yeah, he really is. And we're handsome. I'd say so. And he loves the attention. Look, he's practically glowing. Clinton passes in front of them and blows a kiss into the crowd. Did he just blow me a kiss? Mom, he's looking right at me. Oh my goodness, mom. Did someone have a crush? Suddenly, Lewinsky is seized by a strong feeling. She doesn't get it. Clinton is old, gray hair, and that big red nose. But he also gives off a powerful sexual energy. It draws Lewinsky in, almost like a magnet. She's never had this reaction to anyone. The moment later, the two world leaders step onto a small stage. The Republic of Korea and the United States are joined by a history of shared sacrifice and by a future of common purpose. Today, President Kemenai will pay tribute to that past and continue our work toward that future. President Clinton continues his speech, performing the careful work of international diplomacy. And while the reporters and guests follow his every word, Lewinsky barely hears anything. She's too distracted. It seems like every one of her nerve endings is on fire. This has never happened before. Not even Andy had this effect on her. And at that moment, Lewinsky forgets all about her punishing internship, the long hours, the deep feelings of alienation. She forgets all about her burning desire to leave Washington. Because now Monica Lewinsky has a singular new goal. She's going to find a way to get closer to the president of the United States. American scandal is sponsored by the Zebra. There's a saying, when you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras, make sense. Horses are more common. So why jump to the conclusion of Zebras? But when we're talking about common sense, I want you to think exactly about the Zebra. The Zebra is the nation's leading insurance comparison site for car and home insurance. In just minutes, I was able to compare policies from every major provider for free, all on one independent marketplace. You can too. After a few quick questions, the Zebra compare you with the right insurance company for you, saving you time and money. In fact, the Zebra saves people an average of $922 a year on home and auto combined. Buy online or over the phone with one of their license insurance agents. There are no hidden fees or fine print about your personal information. And best of all, the Zebra has no stake in the policy you choose. They're just there to find the coverage that's right for you. Save time and money in minutes. Compare quotes for free at the zebra.com slash a s. That's the zebra.com slash a s. It's early in the evening of August 10th, 1995. Monica Lewinsky is once again standing on the south lawn of the White House. The lawn is full of debris and a stage where Jimmy Buffett just performed is now dark. This party is a celebration of Bill Clinton's birthday. And while most people have already left, Lewinsky is sticking around. Ever since her first sighting of Clinton, when he spoke beside South Korea's president, Lewinsky has been aching to see him again in person. So when she got word that the interns were invited to his birthday party, Lewinsky rushed home and changed into her favorite suit, the one that shows off her curves. She wanted to look her best because this party might be a good chance to see the president up close. Lewinsky watches intently as Clinton works his way down a line of guests. He'll be right in front of her in just a few minutes. She has to say something, something that will stand out that will make him remember her, but her mind is blank. Clinton continues down the line now just two people away. The Lewinsky hears the lilt of his Arkansas accent as he thanks the wellwishers. Her palm begins to sweat and anticipation. As he chats with the guest, the Lewinsky flashes back to earlier moments at the party. She swears the president was looking at her, and each time she felt a strong chemistry between them, but he'd been gazing at other women too. So in a moment, she'll get to see if they actually have a connection. And suddenly, there he is, President Clinton is standing directly in front of her. Without saying a word, Lewinsky sticks out her hand. Clinton grabs hold of it. His hands are large and warm. And Clinton looks deep into her eyes. Her heart begins to pound. And Lewinsky finds a courage she didn't know she had. Happy birthday, Mr. President. She tells Clinton, pitching her voice so it's low and sultry, a playful imitation of Marilyn Monroe. Clinton laughs at the impression. His blue eyes twinkle mischievously, and Lewinsky feels lightheaded, the way he's looking at her. It's like she's the only person on the entire planet. The president then smiles thanking her for coming. But then as he moves toward the next person in line, Clinton's hand brushes lightly against Lewinsky's breast. Her breath catches, and Clinton glances back at her. She notices that Clinton is looking down at her security badge. He must be trying to see her name. She looks down, but the badge is twisted, so she flips it around. Clinton takes a long look at her badge. Then he turns away, giving all his attention to the next guest in line. Lewinsky is awestruck as she stands on the lawn. She couldn't have been imagining what just happened. President touched her. He stared at her name tag. He's clearly interested in her. The president of the United States is interested in Monica Lewinsky. Soon the party starts to wind down, and Lewinsky is one of only a dozen guests remaining. A security agent announces that Clinton is returning to the residence and the party is over. Lewinsky watches Clinton as he walks away, and then suddenly he looks back. Lewinsky doesn't have time to second guess herself, so she lifts her hand and blows a kiss in that Maryland Monroe fashion. Clinton throws his head back and roars with laughter. Then Lewinsky bursts out laughing. Clinton understands her. He gets her. A few minutes later, Clinton is gone. And Lewinsky makes her way off the south lawn of the White House. As she walks through the Hawking Horn to traffic, Lewinsky feels like she's floating on a cloud. She's free from her troubles. Her anxieties and fears and self doubts. She can't remember the last time she felt this good. Or the last time she wanted something so badly. And it doesn't seem impossible. President Clinton now knows her name. If he wants, he'll be able to find her. Lewinsky only hopes they'll have a chance to meet again before her internship is over, and she leaves Washington for good. A few months later, Lewinsky sits in the White House Chief of Staff's office, surrounded by empty desks. She's holding a phone to her ear as a furious man screams obscenities at her. Lewinsky glances at her coworker, an older woman who's also on the phone, grimacing. Lewinsky sined on for a second stint as an intern, but taking these kinds of calls isn't what she thought she'd be doing. And the calls don't seem like they're going to stop anytime soon. They've been coming in all day after a right wing radio host gave out the Chief of Staff's phone number, and all the callers are mad about the same thing. The government shut down. The situation emerged after President Clinton vetoed Congress's latest spending bill. It's one of a series of battles between the Republican led Congress and the Democratic held White House. With an impasse over the budget, most White House workers have been furloughed. Every department is now down to a skeleton crew, but unpaid interns like Lewinsky are allowed to stay on board and keep working. It's good news for Lewinsky. She can keep working in the White House and remain close to President Clinton. And she won't be an intern forever. Lewinsky recently learned that when the shutdown ends, she'll be given a permanent position at the White House. She'll have a blue badge, allowing her unfettered access to the West Wing, where President Clinton spends his days. So even though Lewinsky has to get on the phone with angry constituents, she has no plans to leave Washington and return home. She's now determined to continue working in the White House and find a way to get closer to the President. Finally, the angry caller hangs up on her and Lewinsky sets down the receiver. Just then, the door opens and President Bill Clinton strides into the room. He and Lewinsky silently greet each other. Lewinsky can't believe it though. This is Clinton's fourth visit to the chief of staff's office just today. All the smiles and helloes to Lewinsky, it's almost as if they have a little routine. Clinton then continues into the chief of staff's inner office, closing the door behind him. Once he's out of sight, Lewinsky's coworker leans forward. Her eyebrow raised. She mentions that it's unusual for Clinton to come by the office this frequently. Usually, he's here only about once a week. Hearing this, Lewinsky's mind starts to spin. Is he coming by to see her? Lewinsky glances at the door to the chief of staff's office. She wishes she knew for sure how the President actually felt, and suddenly she has an idea, a way to find an answer. It's risky, could even get her fired. Lewinsky taps her fingers against her thigh as she thinks. She can hear the murmur of Clinton's voice through the door, sounds like he's on his way back out. She has to make a decision. Her heart racing, Lewinsky decides to go for it. She rises and walks around to the front of her desk, her back to the chief of staff's door. She sneaks a look at her coworker. Thankfully, the woman is now staring intently at her computer. So Lewinsky leans over at the desk and pretends to be straightening some papers. She untucks her shirt and adjusts her pants so they sit lower on her hips. The door opens, and Lewinsky glances over her shoulder, confirming that Clinton is exiting alone. Then in one fluid motion, she flips up the back of her jacket and shirt, and reveals the top of her thong underwear. She holds this pose for only a second, but when she turns around, she sees Clinton's signature smirk. Lewinsky grins back. He definitely saw. But just as quickly, the president solsters out of the office without saying a word. Lewinsky falls back in her chair, her thoughts spiraling. It was a rush, but she might have just made the stupidest decision of her entire life. President is probably laughing at her right now. She must have looked giddy and gurglish, not like a staffer in the most important office in the world. She can't believe she just pulled that move. Lewinsky closes her eyes, her breath growing short. She's entirely certain. That little stunt ruined everything. And soon she's not going to get a blue badge that lets her into the West Wing. She's going to get a pink slip. She'll be on her way back home to Los Angeles. A few hours later, Monica Lewinsky exits the women's bathroom and begins walking back to the chief of staff's office. It's late evening. And all she wants is to go home and forget about today, and her embarrassing maneuver, showing off her underwear to the president of the United States. But the White House and Congress are furiously trying to end the budget and pass. And Lewinsky knows she's got to be here, working well into the night. Lewinsky passes an open door in glances inside. The office is lit by a single desk lamp. And Lewinsky newly jumps when she recognizes the lone figure staring out the window. His president built Clinton. Lewinsky stops and stares at Clinton. She's never seen him alone before. Somehow he looks smaller now. Much more like a man and less like the president. But Clinton suddenly turns, and spotting Lewinsky, he waits for inside. Come here for a second. Lewinsky feels herself floating to the office. Clinton gazes at her. Zai sparkling. Well, tell me, where'd you go to school? Before she can stop herself, the words just tumble out of her mouth. I admit, you know, I have a really big crush on you. Clinton's laugh echoes in the empty room, and Lewinsky blushes. She can't believe she just said that. And Barris, beyond belief, she's about to turn and flee when Clinton places a hand on her shoulder. Let's go somewhere more private. A jolt of adrenaline goes through Lewinsky's body. As she follows the president through a large mahogany door and into the inner office. Clinton then approaches Lewinsky. She can feel the heat of his body, his warm breath ruffling her hair. Then Clinton pulls her clothes holding her tight against his chest. You're so beautiful. Your energy lights up the whole room. Can I kiss you? The whiskey nods and their lips meet. The kiss is deep and soft and warm. And when they finally break apart, they're both left gasping. Clinton looks away, gathering his thoughts. You know, this is complicated. Mr. President, I've done this before, been with a married man, I mean. Clinton nods, his face unreadable. Then Lewinsky takes a step back. I should probably get back to work. Me too. It won't be easy to concentrate, though. Clinton winks at her with a smile plastered across her face. Lewinsky turns and walks out. As she heads back to her desk, Lewinsky suddenly erupts in a giggle. It's loud and shrill as she claps her hand over her mouth at stifle it. Tonight, the president chose her. Of all the women, in the entire world, she, Monica Lewinsky, kissed the president of the United States. Lewinsky shakes her head and happy disbelief. She knows that nothing else will probably happen between them. The shutdown will end. All the staff will come back. And when that happens, Clinton will probably return to his usual girlfriend. And that'll be that. What as crazy as it seems, Lewinsky holds on to a dim home. Maybe it's not over. Maybe her relationship with the president is just getting started. From wandering, this is Episode 1 of the Clinton Lewinsky Affair from American scale. In our next episode, the affair escalates between Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton. But the truth comes leaking out. And news of the relationship reaches the ears of Clinton's enemies. If you'd like to learn more about the Clinton Lewinsky Affair, we recommend the book's Monica's Story by Andrew Morton and a vast conspiracy by Jeffrey Tuben. A quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what was said. But all our dramatizations are based on historical research. Americans, Candellas, hosted, edited and executed to produce by me Lindsey Graham for airship, audio editing by Molly Bond, sound design by Derek Barrett, music by Lindsey Graham. This episode is written by Austin Racklis, edited by Christina Malsberg. Our senior producer is Gabe Rivett, executive producers, our Stephanie Jens, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and her nonlokas for Wondering. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion? Or you woke up in the morgue? Or you were seriously injured miles from help? What would you do? This is actually happening. Ask our listeners this very question, while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening, brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Each episode is an exploration of the human spirit and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives, even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening, is available ad free only with Wondering Plus. And if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondering Plus subscribers. Join Wondering Plus on Apple podcasts or on the Wondering app.