"It wasn’t my finest hour," the former president tells the "Late Show" host after facing significant backlash over his "Today" show interview.
Bill Clinton got a second chance to answer questions about Monica Lewinsky and the #MeToo movement on "The Late Show" Tuesday after Stephen Colbert described the former president's previous answers "tone deaf."
During a heated "Today" show interview Monday, Clinton said he didn't owe Lewinsky an apology, and suffered significant backlash as a result. But the retired politician, who is currently on a book tour with author James Patterson, argued the interview was misconstrued and what he meant was that he felt he didn't owe the former White House intern an apology for their affair because he already apologized to her.
"I notice you did not enjoy that entire interview," Colbert began. "Would you like a do-over on that answer? Do you understand why some people thought it was a tone-deaf response?"
"Absolutely," he said. "When I saw the interview, I thought that, because they had to distill it, it looked like I was saying I didn’t apologize, and I had no intention to. And I was mad at me -- not for the first time."
"Here is what I want to say: It wasn’t my finest hour," Clinton continued. "But, the important thing is, that it was very painful thing that happened 20 years ago,I apologized to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, to the American people. I meant it then, I meant it now. I’ve had to live with the consequences every day since. And I still believe this #MeToo movement is long overdue, necessary, and should be supported."
Patterson defended Clinton, saying that he has done "incredible things."
Colbert agreed with Patterson, but thought the main issue the former president's critics had with the "Today" show interview was that it seemed Clinton was surprised to be asked a question about the #MeToo movement.
"It seems like the spirit of the #MeToo movement is that it doesn’t matter how long ago it happened, examples of men who were not held accountable for their behavior -- especially men in power with younger women or people who worked for them -- is worthy of being readjudicated," he said. "It seemed tone-deaf to me because you seemed offended to be asked about this thing, when -- in all due respect, sir -- your behavior was the most famous example of a powerful man sexually misbehaving in the workplace of my lifetime. And so it doesn’t seem surprising that the question would be asked. Why were you surprised?"
POTUS 42 explained that he had been asked the question in the past, but this one was different.
"I didn’t like this one because it started with an assertion that basically I had never apologized, as if I had never tried to come to grips with it, and as if there had been no attempt to hold me accountable, which anybody who lived through that and knew the facts, knew wasn't so," Clinton said.
"Nonetheless, I realized, 'Hey there a lot of people that have no memory of that,'" he continued. "And all they saw was me mad and I seemed to be tone deaf to put it mildly...People need to know. I apologized. I meant it then. I mean it now. I've lived with the consequences and I still support #MeToo and I think we all need to keep trying to be doing better, and I would never dispute that."