"I still feel uncomfortable talking about it," Monica says in a new tell-all interview about the scandal.
Monica Lewinsky relived her days as a White House intern on Sunday's premiere of "The Clinton Affair," the first two hours of a three night documentary series on A&E.
The first night of programming focused on Bill Clinton's rise to president and the early days of their relationship, ending with Lewinsky recalling how she first befriended Linda Tripp.
While we'll have more about Tripp and the fallout over the affair following Monday and Tuesday's episodes, tonight it was all about young, forbidden love as Lewinsky explained how their secret relationship began.
After finishing college in Portland, Oregon, a family friend hooked Lewinsky up with an internship at the White House.
"It was this overwhelming experience, tinged with a lot of positivity at that point," she said. "I was young, I was starry eyed, there's something in the air there. The smell of eucalyptus, it's weighted with history and the sense of power ... I loved working at the White House."
Though she recalled other female interns "gushing" over the president and how "handsome" they thought he was, she didn't initially see him that way. "I remember thinking to myself, 'Ew, this is an old guy with wiry gray hair, how could she find him attractive?'" she explained. "I didn't get it until the first time I was really in his presence."
But when that finally happened, she was "struck" by how he could hold the attention of a room. "I kind of have to laugh at my younger self, but that was when my crush started," Lewinsky added.
Calling their first meeting forgettable, the now 45-year-old said he "paid a lot of attention to me" the second time they met. To keep his attention, she said she wore the same outfit two days in a row -- "and notice me, he did."
"We had a number of this flirtatious encounters, there was really no sense for me of anything beyond I have this crush and this person I have a crush on is actually paying attention to me," she remembered. Lewinsky said he became "flirtatious" as they became more familiar with each other, adding that "it was escalating."
When a government shutdown hit in 1995, the behavior inside the White House shifted. Everything became a little more casual, with interns finding themselves surrounded by other staffers "you wouldn't normally interact with," Lewinsky explained. She then blushed as she recalled how her thong was showing at a coworker's birthday, saying she thought she'd "up the game" by intentionally flashing it in POTUS' direction.
"I knew he was walking out of the room and instead of pulling my trousers up, I didn't," she explained. "It was unnoticeable to everybody else in the room, but he noticed."
She says Clinton became more interested in her after that, calling her into then-communications director George Stephanopoulos' office to talk. "I don't think at that point in my life my heart had ever beat as fast," she remembered. "I blurted out, 'You know I have a crush on you.' He laughed, smiled and asked me if i wanted to go into the back office and I did."
"It was dark and he eventually asked me if he could kiss me and I said yes," she continued. "After a little time, I went back to my desk and at some point later in the evening, I was the only person in the office and he came back in and he said if you want to meet me in the back study in 10 minutes, you can. And I did. It became more intimate from there."
Looking back, Lewinsky said she doesn't often address what happened in a public forum, adding that she still feels "uncomfortable" talking about it all these years later. "It's not as if it didn't register with me that he was the president, obviously it did," she added, "I think in one way, the moment we were actually in the back office for the first time, the truth is, I think it meant more for me that someone who other people desired desired me."
Though Lewinsky said that "every" secret rendezvous with Clinton at the White House had a "sexual component" to it, she wanted to make it clear that "no sexual activity happened in the Oval Office." The "monkey business," as she called it, went down in the adjoining rooms, but was also accompanied by conversations and "connecting."
The relationship was one-sided though, with Clinton calling all the shots. "I had no way to reach him, if he called me I couldn't call him back, I was completely at his mercy in that way," Monica explained. "It's really sad to me, when I look back, I was this 22 year old girl working in the White House for my very first job out of college, I should have been out on the weekends meeting people my own age enjoying myself. Instead, I stayed in my office on Saturdays and Sundays, hoping he would call."
Things got more difficult for them when Lewnisky was transferred to the Pentagon to work, leaving Monica "distraught" as she wondered whether she'd be able to see Clinton again. "He was crestfallen," she added, "he said, 'I'm sure this has to do with the election, I promise you, if I win in November, I'll bring you back.'"
She noted that they were both cautious, "but not cautious enough," and, eventually, they became the subject of whispers around the White House. "My boss, he said, 'be careful, people are talking about you,'" Lewinsky recalled. "Came to learn there were a lot more rumors and stories circulating around than I realized."
It was at this point Monica became friends with Linda Tripp, who was just a little too curious about her personal life. "She would ask questions here and there about why did I leave the white house, did he flirt with me,'" Lewinsky remembered. "I saw her as just some benign some political appointee at the pentagon, of course she was much much more than that."
Tripp, of course, would go on to secretly record their conversations about the president, recordings that would eventually go public.
"The Clinton Affair" continues Monday and Tuesday night on A&E.