New photo found only one to show Hillary Clinton meeting Monica Lewinsky in 1996
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Examiner.com, October 14, 2015, 1:50 PM MST
What is the best way to celebrate a 40th wedding anniversary if you are a tabloid website, it would be reminding the happy couple of the husband’s greatest indiscretion. Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015 marked Bill and Hillary Clinton‘s 40th wedding anniversary. A marriage filled will more humiliating and well known affairs and infidelity than seen in any recent political couple. Gawker has decided to celebrate the former first couple’s special day, by posting two days before on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, the only known photo of then First Lady Hillary Clinton meeting her husband’s President Bill Clinton‘s much, much younger mistress former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The photo was taken at the White House Christmas Party in December 1996 in the middle of the president’s tryst with Lewinsky.
Monica Lewinsky appeared in two photographs from the Dec. 17, 1996 White House Christmas reception held in the Diplomatic Reception Room. One is the only photo where Hillary Clinton and Lewinsky meet. Gawker released two high-resolution photos of Lewinsky’s separate meetings with the first couple at the reception. White House photographer Ralph Alswang took the photos. It was in the midst of the affair between the former intern and then Pentagon public affairs assistant with security clearance and just reelected Democratic president, but closer towards the end of their relationship.
The first more well known one is Lewinsky shaking hands with the president, both are grinning, with Monica beaming ear to ear, and a conspicuously firm and tender handshake. The photo of the president and Lewinsky first debuted in black and white in Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s Starr report released in Sept. 1998. Next on Lewinsky meets Hillary, in the photo, the First Lady is mostly hidden from the camera’s view, only her blond hair is visible, and there is no way to see her facial expression as she meets Monica. The photo was meant to capture President Clinton greeting then-Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.
The back-story to the Christmas reception in Lewinsky and Clinton scandal lore goes beyond their mutual admiration beaming. Andrew Morton writing in his authorized biography of Lewinsky, Monica’s Story explained that the president had quite taken by Monica’s appearance. Morton wrote, “The next night the President called to compliment her on her appearance “He also told her that he had Christmas presents for her-a hand-made hat pin from New Mexico and a beautifully bound edition of Leaves of Grass by the poet Walt Whitman.”
Gawker also quoted Newsweek reporters Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas article just after the scandal broke entitled “Clinton and the Intern” and published in the February 2, 1998 issue. The Newsweek reporters extensively discussed the Christmas reception. In April 1995, Lewinsky was transferred to the Pentagon because of her puppy vixen like following of the president was noticed by deputy chief of staff and Hillary ally Evelyn Lieberman.
Still Lewinsky maintained her “White House connections,” which brought her to the reception. A Pentagon staffer, the former deputy assistant secretary for public affairs Willie Blacklow accompanied Monica to the Christmas party. Isikoff and Thomas recounted, “Lewinsky was ‘dressed to the hilt, with a semi-low-cut red dress.'” The Newsweek authors wrote, “Blacklow recalls, Clinton gave her an enthusiastic greeting, saying ‘Hi, Monica!’ and ‘hugged’ her. ‘I was kind of stunned,’ Blacklow said. ‘There was no question that she was something more than just another gofer.’ Apparently, fittingly Blackow also “recalled that Hillary Clinton also recognized Lewinsky and shook her hand,” which coincides with the newly discovered Hillary meets Monica photo.
Coincidently the photo’s discovery was because a Columbia University graduate and now Politico reporter Conor Skelding put in a Freedom of Information Act request in May 2014 to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library requesting every photo they had of Monica Lewinsky, specifically “for photographs related to Monica Lewinsky from November 1995 through March 1997.” It took a year for the library to fill Skelding’s request, and when they did it was a PDF of the developed contact sheet with each photo small low resolution images.
The previously unreleased photo of Hillary with Lewinsky was part of recent release of Clinton photos this past May. John Lancaster of the National Archive’s Presidential Materials Division sent a letter dated May 28, 2015 to W. Neil Eggleston, Counsel to President Barack Obama informing the White House of releases from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from Clinton’s presidential records.
The releases included 21,312 photograph and one videotape, and among them the contact sheet “Photographs of Monica Lewinsky from November 1995 – March 1997.” According the letter’s appendix there were 16 photos of Lewinsky in the records, but only 11 were released, while five will remain restricted. What they consist of that would require them to remain restricted is unimaginable considering these were photos officially shot by White House photographers.
The finding for the sheet specifically refers to the unpublished photo of the first lady and Lewinsky, confirming the blonde is in fact Hillary, “Photographs from December 17, 1996 are of President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton greeting Monica Lewinsky at a Christmas reception in the Diplomatic Reception Room.” Gawker acquired the two Christmas reception photos in high resolution. Gawker also contacted a librarian at the Clinton presidential library and they confirmed in an email that Hillary is the one in the photo. The librarian wrote back, “The President is present in the first responsive image, and the First Lady is positioned to his left, obscured in the shot by the position of the President.”Lewinsky had told Starr that she met the first lady that night as well.
There are very few known photos of former President Clinton with Monica Lewinsky. Of the 11 official White House photos released by the Clinton presidential library there are the few of the two with other staff in the West Wing Chief of Staff offices during the November 1995 government shutdown taken on Nov. 17. The black and white photos including a famous one of the two standing together, one with Lewinsky and Clinton standing face-to-face talking, the rest mostly have Lewinsky lurking in the background.
Lewinsky later recounted to Starr for his investigation that her and the president shared “physical intimacy” later that night. During her time as a White House intern she spent more time according to Isikoff and Thomas lingering “outside the Oval Office,” then working, her “hard pass” and the government shutdown gave her and other interns unprecedented access to the president, and made the affair possible.
Lewinsky used her pass to go to any event the president was at, whether fundraisers or White House events, reception or parties. There are also two photos of Lewinsky in the background at West Wing reception Debra (Debi) Schiff’s birthday with Clinton and staff celebrating on Nov. 20, 1995. Another well-known photo is Clinton and Lewinsky in the Oval Office in their last official White House photo together, taken on Feb. 28, 1997 after Clinton recorded his weekly radio address, where he greeted Lewinsky and two other guests. As Lewinsky recounted to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr the two had a sexual encounter after that photo was taken.
Two well-known 1996 campaign photos were staples during the media coverage of the scandal back in 1998. Both depicted the president hugging Lewinsky after she ambushed him in the audience. Lewinsky admitted that after the relationship cooled during the 1996 campaign she would go to the front of his campaign events waiting to see him. Lewinsky recounted, “I’m an insecure person … and I was insecure about the relationship at times and thought that he would come to forget me easily … So I made an effort. I would go early and stand in the front (at ropelines) so I could see him.”
One photo was at a Democratic Fundraiser in Washington, DC, from May 8, 1996, hosted by young Democrats of the Saxophone Club at the Washington Sheraton. Unlike the perception that all Lewinsky campaign meetings with the president were stalking, Clinton also seemed to have been energized from the meeting as he later told the press, “I was tired when I walked in, but I’m not tired any more. You’ve given me a lot of energy.” Time chose the photo as their cover in the middle of the scandal on Aug. 10, 1998.
The other photo was taken on Nov. 6, 1996 on the White House South Lawn the day after Clinton won reelection, becoming the first Democrat to win two terms since Franklin D. Roosevelt. The photo famously depicts Lewinsky in her beret, hugging the president at the gathering for White House employees to “congratulate” the president on his electoral victory. White House employees later recounted that Lewinsky’s hug was one of 79 President Clinton gave to his employees; Vice President Al Gore supposedly gave even more. The moment was not that significant, except for the story behind it, later used by Time to embody the affair and scandal.
FOIA requests seem to be Hillary’s downfall; the Democratic frontrunner cannot escape her husband’s past scandals and women in his life as much as she cannot escape her ongoing email scandal. Especially, this past year that Monica Lewinsky has returned to the limelight, reminding the public all time of Hillary’s husband’s greatest indiscretion and near presidential downfall. Every women that has had been involved with the president that the public knew of, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Wiley, and Paula Jones, have publicly came out against Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
As they celebrated their 40th anniversary and the Clintons shared wedding photos on social media, ABC News wrote a tribute article “When Hill Met Bill: Celebrating the Clintons’ 40th Anniversary” but they could not forget to include the Lewinsky affair in the Clinton’s marital highs and lows. ABC News listed “The bad” as Aug. 17, 1998 the day Clinton admitted to the American public his affair with Lewinsky, saying, “Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact it was wrong. I misled people. Including, even my wife. I deeply regret that.” As long as the Clintons remain in the public and political eye Hillary will never be able escape Monica Lewinsky and sites like Gawker will not let her or the American voter forget either.