Monica Lewinsky Says The FBI Got Her To Reveal Clinton Secrets By Threatening Her Mother

Monica Lewinsky makes a public appearance in front of a purple backsplash.
Gregg DeGuire / Getty Images

Monica Lewinsky recently revealed that the FBI “forced” her into co-operating with their investigation into former U.S. President Bill Clinton, with whom she had an affair, by threatening to jail her mother.

On the second episode of the new A&E series, The Clinton Affair, Lewinsky broke down in tears as she recalled the moment FBI investigators said both her and her mother would be facing 27 years in prison if she didn’t cooperate. The former White House intern said that she panicked when Kenneth Starr’s team — and attendant federal agents — told her that she would be sent to prison for nearly three decades for lying about the affair. Lewinsky’s questioning took place during a 12-hour interrogation in a Ritz-Carlton hotel room, as was reported by the Daily Mail.

“I kept asking could I call my mom, they kept saying no,” she recalled. “‘You’re 24, you don’t need to call your mommy, you need to make a decision about what to do.'”

She then told the investigators that she was “leaning towards not cooperating,” to which they replied: “Well, you should know, we’re also thinking about prosecuting your mom for the things you said she did on the tape.”

Lewinsky then told the FBI agents that she had to call someone before making a final decision, and they allowed her to use the pay phone at a local mall. She called her mother Marcia, who tried to calm her down before realizing the extent of the situation her daughter was in.

Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton

Her parents also made an appearance on the second episode of The Clinton Affair, marking the first time they had ever discussed their daughter’s time in the White House — and her relationship with the president. Dr. Bernard Lewinsky, the son of German Jews who fled to Central America during World War II, described how proud he was when he found out about her internship.

“I’m an immigrant from El Salvador and it was awesome and unbelievable that she would be working at the White House. I was so proud of her and she was so happy about it,” he said.

His wife Marcia recalled their daughter’s childhood during the episode, deeming her a “beautiful and very, very smart little girl,” who was also “really stubborn.”

Lewinsky also described the moment in which she realized that Bill Clinton’s promise to give her a job at the White House — she had been moved to the Pentagon by staffers who worried the two might be too close — after he got re-elected was a lie.

“How stupid am I that I believed this, that I bought this. I felt so deflated and so desperate. And those were the conditions along with some other things that led to me confiding in Linda Tripp,” she revealed. Tripp was the person who ended up alerting the special prosecutor to the fact that the president had an affair with a former intern. Lewinsky said that the FBI investigation which she was forced to engage with took such a toll on her that she even contemplated suicide.

The Clinton Affair is an A&E six-part docuseries.