Who could ever forget this moment from the Bill Clinton – Monica Lewinsky scandal:
The emails released on Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library follow the arc of the Lewinsky scandal as it grew from a media frenzy to a constitutional crisis, and then began to dissipate as President Clinton regained political support following the release of Kenneth Starr’s report.
The earliest documents illustrate many of the mundane aspects of Lewinsky’s job, but later emails paint a picture of an ever evolving ‘work’ relationship between Bubba and Monica.
She was copied on an email in February 1996 about how White House staff should have received a subpoena from the counsel’s office for files related to the travel office. A month later, Lewinsky put in an official request to hang a picture in the legislative affairs office of Clinton signing a telecom bill.
By April 1996, as the West Wing grew concerned about Lewinsky’s relationship with Clinton, aides exchanged emails about placing her at the Pentagon.
“We are working closely with DOD to make this happen for Monica,” Patsy Thomasson, the White House deputy director of personnel, wrote on April 9, 1996, several days after Lewinsky had been removed from her West Wing job. “We have not finalized the deal but are working toward that end. … Our direction is to make sure she has a job in an Agency.”
In the days after the Drudge Report first wrote that Newsweek was working on a bombshell story, Lanny Davis, then special counsel to Clinton, received a stream of urgent phone messages from Washington’s top reporters.
Susan Schmidt, a Washington Post reporter who was among the first to report the news, tried to reach Davis on Jan. 20, 1998, the day before her story ran: “Call me — jeez?!”
Others who showed up on a call log include CNN’s John King; Peter Baker, who shared a byline on the first Washington Post story; Tom Squitieri, then with USA Today; and Warren Strobel, then of the Washington Times.
“Wants to talk to you NOT about the facts of Lewinsky matter but about the political impact/importance,” according to the log of Strobel’s message for Davis.
As the scandal unfolded, senior adviser Sidney Blumenthal shopped around negative stories about Clinton’s critics, including book agent Lucianne Goldberg and conservative pundit Bill Kristol. Blumenthal also spent quite a bit energy trying to push back at Christopher Hitchens, the late Vanity Fair writer, who had claimed that Blumenthal had spread defamatory stories about Lewinsky.