'The truth will come out,' first lady says in interview Hillary Clinton defends president on 'Today' show

January 28, 1998

Here are excerpts from the NBC "Today" interview with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton conducted by Matt Lauer.

Lauer: There has been one question on the minds of a lot of people in this country, Mrs. Clinton, lately. And that is, what is the exact nature of the relationship between your husband and Monica Lewinsky? Has he described that relationship in detail to you?

Clinton: Well, we've talked at great length. And I think as this matter unfolds, the entire country will have more information. But we're right in the middle of a rather vigorous feeding frenzy right now, and people are saying all kinds of things and putting out rumor and innuendo.

And I have learned over the last many years, being involved in politics, and especially since my husband first started running for president, that the best thing to do in these cases is just to be patient, take a deep breath, and the truth will come out. But there's nothing we can do to fight this firestorm of allegations that are out there.

Lauer: But he has described to the American people what this relationship was not --

Clinton: That's right.

Lauer: -- in his words. Has he described to you what it was?

Clinton: Yes. And we'll find that out as time goes by, Matt. But I think the important thing now is to stand as firmly as I can and say that, you know, the president has denied these allegations on all counts, unequivocally. And we'll see how this plays out.

I guess -- everybody says to me, "How can you be so calm, or how can you just, you know, look like you're not upset?" And I guess I've just been through it so many times. I mean, Bill and I have been accused of everything, including murder, by some of the very same people who are behind these allegations. So from my perspective, this is part of a continuing political campaign against my husband.

Lauer: I want to talk about [independent counsel] Kenneth Starr in a second. Before I get to him, let me just ask you, do you know Monica Lewinsky?

Clinton: No.

Lauer: You've never met her?

Clinton: I may have. You know, there are hundreds and hundreds of young people who serve as interns. And, you know, we have big events for them. We take pictures with them. But unless they work directly in my office, I'm not likely to meet them.

Lauer: Did Evelyn Lieberman, the former deputy chief of staff, or any other White House staffers, Mrs. Clinton, ever come to you and say, "We may have a problem with one of the interns at the White House" and mention Monica Lewinsky by name?

Clinton: No. No, that never happened.

Lauer: So when people say there's a lot of smoke here, your message is, where there's smoke --

Clinton: There isn't any fire, because think of what we've been through for the last six years and think of everything we've been accused of. And, you know, initially when this first started and I would be accused of something or my husband would be accused of something, I would be really upset and I would want to rush out and I'd say, "That's not true." And then somebody would nit-pick and say, "Well, what about this?" And I'd say, "Well, I hadn't thought about that." And then I'd rush around and I'd say, "Well, that's not true."

Lauer: Are you saying, though, that you're no longer -- that this doesn't upset you anymore? You're almost numb to it?

Clinton: It's not being numb so much as just being very experienced in the unfortunate mean-spirited give-and-take of American politics right now. So having seen so many of these accusations come and go, having seen people profit, you know, like [the Rev.] Jerry Falwell with videos accusing my husband of murder, of drug-running, seeing some of the things that are written and said about him, my attitude is, you know, we've been there before. We have seen this before. And I am just going to wait patiently until the truth comes out.

Lauer: The last time we visited a subject like this involving your family was 1992, and the name Gennifer Flowers was in the news. And you said at that time, in an interview, a very famous quote, "I'm not some Tammy Wynette standing by my man." In the same interview, your husband admitted that he had, quote, "caused pain" in your marriage. Six years later, you are still standing by this man, your husband, through some difficult charges. If he were to be asked today, Mrs. Clinton, do you think he would admit that he again has caused pain in this marriage?

Clinton: No, absolutely not. And he shouldn't. You know, we've been married for 22 years, Matt, and I have learned a long time ago that the only people who count in any marriage are the two that are in it. We know everything there is to know about each other and we understand and accept and love each other.

And I just think that a lot of this is deliberately designed to sensationalize charges against my husband because everything else they've tried has failed. And I also believe it is part of an effort, very frankly, to undo the results of two elections.

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