Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended President Bill Clinton on Saturday, telling CNN he “more than paid the price” for his affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was in office.
“The fact that he went through an impeachment process as President of the United States,” Panetta told CNN’s Ana Cabrera in an interview Saturday. “The House of Representatives voted for articles of impeachment, (but) the Senate did not.
Panetta, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff, continued: “But the mere fact that he went through an impeachment process as President means that there will always be a shadow on the legacy of his presidency, so at least from my point of view, he’s more than paid the price.”
His remarks come after New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she believes Clinton should have resigned after the scandal.
She told The New York Times on Friday when asked if Clinton should have stepped down, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.”
Gillibrand’s comments came hours after the Democratic Party was rocked by allegations that Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken groped and “forcibly kissed” a woman without her consent during an overseas USO tour in 2006, two years before Franken was elected to the Senate.
Franken has apologized for his behavior, adding that while he didn’t remember the exact actions involving the alleged forcible kiss, “I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.” He also welcomed a Senate ethics investigation into his actions, saying he would “gladly cooperate.”
Reacting later Friday to Gillibrand’s comments, Hillary Clinton told WABC Radio that her husband had been “held accountable.”
“This was a painful time, not only in our marriage, but in our country, which I’ve written about,” Clinton said. “But it was investigated full, it was addressed at the time, he was held accountable. That is very different from what people seem to be remembering from that period because you can go back and look at the history.”
Clinton added: “I don’t know exactly what (Gillibrand) was trying to say because her whole comment was somewhat contradictory. But I’ll let her speak for herself.”