Stephen Colbert welcomed former President Bill Clinton on his Tuesday night show, and needed to address the elephant in the room right away: Clinton’s controversial comments a day earlier about Monica Lewinsky and the #MeToo movement.
Promoting his book The President Is Missing alongside co-author James Patterson on the Today show Monday, Clinton was asked to reconsider his affair with Lewinsky in the context of the #MeToo movement, and whether it would be received differently. Clinton accused NBC News of manipulating facts in the line of questioning, reiterated that he “did the right thing,” and argued that even in today’s context his relationship with Lewinsky would not be an “issue” beyond the initial fallout. He also indicated he hadn’t apologized to her directly, and saw no need to, comments which drew significant backlash.
“Would you like a do-over on that answer?” Colbert asked Clinton, in a preview of the episode released by CBS. “Do you understand why some people thought that was a tone-deaf response to his questions about the #MeToo movement and how you might reflect on your behavior 20 years ago?”
Clinton expressed regret in his response. “When I saw the interview, I thought that — because they had to, you know, distill it — it looked like I was saying that I didn’t apologize and I had no intention to,” he said. “And I was mad at me.”
Adding “It wasn’t my finest hour,” Clinton clarified that he did and does feel apologetic toward Lewinsky and the American public. “I meant it then; I mean it now. I’ve had to live with the consequences every day since.”
Clinton then affirmed his support for the #MeToo movement, after drawing criticisms from many for seemingly undermining it. “I still believe this #MeToo movement is long overdue, necessary, and should be supported.”
Watch the clip above for more. Clinton and Patterson’s full interview with Colbert will air at 11:30 p.m. ET.