(CNSNews.com) - Former President Bill Clinton and author James Patterson are out with a new novel, titled "The President Is Missing." The two men discussed the book in a Sunday interview with NBC's Craig Melvin.
But in the second half of the interview, Melvin raised the #MeToo movement and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, putting Clinton on the defensive in a way few have done before.
A defiant Clinton defended his decision to fight impeachment, saying he "did the right thing" and "defended the Constitution." He said he likes the #MeToo movement, calling it "way overdue." He pointed to all the women he's appointed since he served as Arkansas governor.
Clinton also complained that he paid a price for his affair with Lewinski, leaving the White House $16 million in debt (although in the years since then he's become a multi-millionaire). And he said "two-thirds" of the American people "sided with me" during and after his affair with a White House intern.
Asked if he agrees with critics that he should have resigned in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal, Clinton said no.
"If the facts were the same today, I wouldn't," he said. "So a lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work. But I think partly because they're frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don't seem to care. I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution."
Asked if President Trump has been "given a pass" regarding all the women who have come forward and accused him of misconduct, Clinton said, "No. But it hasn't gotten anything like the coverage that you would expect."
"I like the #MeToo movement. It's way overdue. I don't agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions which have been made."
Melvin pointed to a March 2018 op-ed in Vanity Fair in which Monica Lewinsky said she was diagnosed with PTSD from all the public scrutiny of her affair with the president. She noted that Clinton was her boss, much older than she was, "with enough life experience to know better."
Melvin asked Clinton if looking back, through the lens of the #MeToo movement, he thinks differently or feels more responsibility:
"No. I felt terrible then. And I came to grips with it," Clinton said.
"Did you ever apologize to her?" Melvin asked.
“Yes. And nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt. (Pause) But you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this, and I bet you don't even know them.
“This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not insensitive that I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the '80s. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. Women were overrepresented in the attorney general's office in the '70s for their percentage in the bar. I've had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts." (Clinton never explained which "facts" were missing.)
"Mr. President, I'm not trying to present a side," Melvin said.
“No, no, you asked me if I agree, the answer is, no, I don't.”
"I asked if you ever apologized -- you say you have. (Melvin played a tape of Clinton's public apology to his family, Monica Lewinsky and her family.) "But you didn't apologize to her," Melvin said.
"I have not talked to her," Clinton said.
"Do you feel like you owe her an apology?" Melvin asked.
"No. I do not -- I have never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That's very different. The apology was public."
"And you don't think a private apology's owed?"
Patterson chimed in: "I think this thing -- it's 20 years ago, come on. Let's talk about JFK. Let's talk about -- you know, LBJ. Stop already.
Clinton responded: "I don't think -- you think President Kennedy should have resigned? Do you believe president Johnson should have resigned? Someone should ask you these questions because of the way you formulate the questions.
“I dealt with it 20 years ago plus, and the American people, two-thirds of them stayed with me. And I've tried to do a good job since then with my life and with my work. That's all I have to say to you."
The video interview ended there. For the record, the interview was heavily edited, so it's not clear what Clinton was talking about when he complained that Melvin was ignoring "gaping facts."
Clinton was impeached on one count of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for lying under oath about his affair with the 21-year-old Lewinsky. The Senate acquitted him on both charges.