Bill says Monica's life was "unfairly" defined by the affair, while Hillary reveals her reaction when he came clean about what he had done.
Bill Clinton opened up like never before about his '90s affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the new Hulu docu-series "Hillary."
The third episode, titled "The Hardest Decision," details Hillary Clinton's reaction to the news and what was going through each of their minds when his sexual relationship with Lewinsky was exposed, leading to his impeachment and subsequent acquittal.
In January 1998, news of the affair was reported on both The Drudge Report and then The Washington Post. Bill, at first, denied anything happened with Lewinsky, both publicly and privately.
"Bill came early one morning into the bedroom and he sat on the side of the bed and said 'I have to tell you something, there's a story that's going to be in the newspaper that, it's about an intern who worked in the White House, claiming I had a relationship with her,'" Hillary recalled in the doc. "I was just waking up, I was having a hard time processing it. I was like, 'What are you talking about? What is this? What do you mean?' He's like, 'There's nothing to it, it's not true, I may have been too nice to her, I may have paid her too much attention but there was nothing.'"
"He was adamant and he was convincing to me," she added, explaining she thought it was just another tactic Ken Starr was using to take down her husband. "If they could make up something, if they could lie about something, they were so partisan, they would do it," she said.
As the story began to really blow up, however, Bill came clean.
"I went and sat on the bed and talked to her. I told her exactly what happened, when it happened," he recalled. "I said I feel terrible about it. I said, you know, we've been through quite a bit in the last few years. I have no defense, this is inexcusable what I did."
Saying she was "just devastated" to hear him admit to the affair, Hillary said she felt "so personally just hurt." She recalled thinking, "I can't believe this, I can't believe you lied. It was horrible and I said, 'If this is gonna be public, you have got to go tell Chelsea.'"
Bill said admitting his wrongdoings to his daughter was "just awful," saying that he "just hated to hurt" his family. "We all bring our baggage to life and sometimes we do things we shouldn't do and it was awful what I did," he added.
When asked by a producer why he took that "risk" in the first place, he said it wasn't something he considered in that way. "Nobody sits down and thinks, 'I'm going to take a really irresponsible risk that's bad for my marriage, bad for my country, bad for the people who work with me," he explained. "That's not what happened. You feel like you're staggering around and you've been in a 15 round prize fight that was extended to 30 rounds and here's something to take your mind off it for a while."
"Everybody's life has pressure and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever," he said, explaining the affair was just one of the "things I did to manage my anxieties for years."
He added he's a "totally different person" now, partly chalking it up to age but adding, "I hope it was also [from] going through a lot of this."
Both of them commended their daughter Chelsea for how she handled herself during this stressful time in their marriage, as everything was playing out in a very public forum. Recalling one particular moment Chelsea was photographed holding both of their hands during a trip to Martha's Vineyard, Hillary said, "That was not anything other than her trying to keep us together. And when she did that, oh my gosh, I thought, 'That is just so incredible, so strong and so wise.'"
At the time, Hillary said she still "didn't talk" to her husband or "want anything to do with him" -- but still didn't believe what he had done met the standards of impeachment. "He shouldn't have done what he did, he shouldn't have tried to hide it, but it wasn't an impeachable offense," she said.
The two and Chelsea went into therapy together and had a lot of "painful, painful discussions" said Hillary. Bill called counseling "one of the hardest things I ever had to do," saying it was "necessary," something both Hillary and Chelsea "deserved" and something he truly "needed."
Looking back, Bill said "I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky's life was defined by it, unfairly I think." He added that, "Over the years I have watched her trying to get a normal life back again. But you got to decide how to define normal."
In the end, Hillary stayed with her husband despite the betrayal, something she said she has received both commendations and criticism for in the years since. "It is a funny time we live in, the kind of public opinion shifts and people say, 'Oh, so noble, she stayed in her marriage' to 'Oh, it's so incomprehensible that she stayed in her marriage,'" she added. "You know that there's forces of work in the society that people are working through themselves."
Bill ended the episode by saying he's "so grateful" they "had enough to stick it out." He added, "God knows the burden she paid for that."
Lewinsky gave her perspective on everything that went down in 2018, with a six-part A&E special called "The Clinton Affair." Get a full breakdown of each episode below. She's also producing the next season of "American Crime Story" with Ryan Murphy, which will cover Clinton's impeachment and see Beanie Feldstein playing her.