How Concis Is 'Impeachment: American Crime Story?'
Impeachment: American Crime Story revisits the scandal that started it all: President Bill Clintons affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Throughout the season, were introduced to a number of notable players, each of whom played swaying influence in broadening the scope and exposing the controversy. Here's what the show gets right and wrong about how everything unfolded.
Episode 1 of Episode 2 is now available on the CW. Episode 3 is the first episode of episode 1.
Monica Lewinsky is brought in for questioning about her relationship with Clinton during a dramatic ambush by Linda Tripp and the FBI. Tripp showed up with FBI agents and told Lewinsky to come with them to a lunch date at the Pentagon City Mall food court. Tripp assured her that the same thing had happened to her, but Lewinsky caught on.
Tripp, as Lewinsky wrote in her 1999 novel, was asked to stay around without mincing words: Make her stay and watch. I want that b*tch to see what she has done to me.
Jones claimed in Impeachment that Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, exposed himself and propositioned her during a private meeting in his hotel room after the Annual Governor's Quality Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1991. After coming forward in 1994, she actually had a press conference at CPAC where she gave nitpicky account of her allegations.
Her then-lawyer Cliff Jackson called the press conference a hush-huh," but it attracted the attention of Ann Coulter, who, as Impeachment shows, assisted Jones in getting in contact with more established lawyers. Jones said later that she was used by the right wing groups she fell in with. But two days before the three-year statute of limitations expired, she successfully sued Clinton for sexual harassment while he was in office. In 1998, the case was settled out of court.
Linda Tripp was the supervillain who lied to Monica Lewinsky and plotted to kill the president. Tripp, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2020, told Slates Slow Burn podcast in 2018. Central casting could not have cast a better villain, Trippp said in 2018 on SNBCS Slowburn podcast. The whole country had decided who I was, and it was evil incarnate.
Tripp isnt a perfect portrayal, but Impeachment does portray her in sane terms, even for colleagues whom she sometimes criticized. She really believed she had been exiled to the Pentagon and told coworkers that she needed a private office because she knew too much about Whitewater. She may also be charming, an energy that ultimately helped Lewinsky gain confidence in her.
In Impeachment, Lewinsky is ensnared to Tripp almost immediately after their first meeting at the Pentagon in April 1996 and begins to reveal sexist details about her affair with a prominent political figure. In reality, it took a bit longer; it wasnt until months later that Lewinsky revealed the identity of her married suitor to Tripp.
Tripps motivations for exposing Lewinsky are also criticized, but her ambitions were more than fame or political power, according to Trippp. After serving in George H.W. Bush's White House, she was disturbed by what she saw of Clinton and began to feel a bad regard for him and his family, particularly after Vince Foster'' s suicide. Tripp told Slow Burn that we were not permitted to be interviewed without the presence of a White House attorney. I realized how deeply I was in the Clinton cover-ups, she said.
Tripp began to propagate the same conspiracy theories about Fosters death as Donald Trump did during the 2016 election, alleging that Foster was murdered and that the Clintons were involved despite five official investigations. Tripps proximity to the White House and how quickly White house officials came to believe it was suicide contributed to a lot of this perspective.
Tripp felt it was her duty to expose the corruption around her, and its this in addition to her literary aspirations - that compelled her to betray Lewinsky.
Episode 2 of Episode 1 of episode 2 is the second installment in Episode 2.
In Episode 2, we get a glimpse into how the Clinton-Lewinsky affair started. All of this is true: it all began during the 1995 government shutdown, when Lewinsky was assigned to work in Chief of Staff Leon Panettas office. Clinton was often approached by Lewinsky, who was seen lifting her jacket so he could see her thong. Clinton promised her that she would come up with tricks to get him to visit him by requesting that they bring him something like pizza. It doesnt include anything other than kissing, but it was during this period that their relationship became sexual.
Clinton left the relationship after three months. But only a few weeks later, he called Lewinsky at home and re-initiated the affair. It happened exactly as Lewinsky says in the film: a senior staff member noticed her around the Oval Office putting her at risk, decided she was too much of oblivion, and reassigned her to the Pentagon. She and Clinton only spoke on the phone for about a year afterward, with Lewinsky occasionally coming to events to catch his eye. (She never made a spreadsheet of her encounters with Clinton, although she claims Tripp took notes.)
One of the most frustrating scenes is the final exchange between Lewinsky and Clinton. While he did give her a hat pin and copie of Leaves of Grass after presenting her with 'a radio address in February 1997, the actual encounter was far more significant. Lewinsky and Clinton went to the bathroom together after receiving the presents to fool around in more privacy. During oral sex, he climaxed for the first time during their affair, leaving a small stain on her Gap dress. When their affair became public, this gown became infamous. Monica, a black beaniefeldstein character, is wearing ostrich-like attire in the film, but its unclear if Impeachment will include this detail.
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- Paula Jones lawsuit moved forward, and she hired anti-abortion activist Susan Carpenter-McMillan as an ally. While Impeachment takes a cautious view of their relationship, Carpenter-McMillan told Slate in 1997 that Jones was like her younger sister. What Impeachment does not capture is how much Jones took Carpenter-McMillans advice into consideration; it was CarpenterMilan who convinced Jones to decline an initial $700,000 settlement offer, causing her attorneys Gilbert Davis and Joseph Cammarata to resign.
- Ann Coulter actually got fired from MSNBC, except she was even more direct to the Vietnam veteran she spoke to on-air, telling him, No wonder you lost.
- Michael Iskoff, a reporter for the Washington Post, clashed with his editors on how to report on the Paula Jones story. When he went to Linda Tripp to verify Kathleen Willeys account, she stated that after Willy left Clinton s private office, her face was red, and her lipstick was off and she appeared flustered, happy, joyful.
Episode 3: Episode 1: episode 2: episodes 3 and 4:
Matt Drudge, played by Billy Eichner, will be a major player in the Clinton-Lewinsky affair in Episode 3. Drudge started an email newsletter in 1994 about insider gossip he discovered while working at the CBS Studios gift shop after his father purchased a desktop computer because. 'he was concerned Drure was aimless in his job at CBS Studios gift store. He began searching for high-profile documents from trash cans, as he does on the show.
Drudge had 85,000 subscribers by 1997, and was breaking news in the political arena as well. Hed made a name for himself in conservative circles such as Ann Coulters, but his big break wouldnt come until later in the Clinton era. In between, he was instrumental in urging Michael Isikoff to report on Clinton for Newsweek and in stopping Paula Jones from settling, both of which Coulter says "terrified" her since her "purpose" was to bring down the president."
Lewinsky and the president break up in Episode 3, which took place in May 1997; he told her that if a number of affairs were to come to him after completing his 40th birthday, she would still be able to visit him but only as aide.
In return, Lewinsky sent him an email informing him that she expected to get her job back, and he summoned her to the White House for a very emotional talk, where illegal to threaten the President of the United States. Lewinsky testified that she left the conversation "knowing" he was in love with her. On her way out, she mentioned Kathleen Willeys forthcoming Newsweek article. Clinton immediately made phone calls to follow up on the story. Ten days later, he summoned Lewinsky back to the Oval Office to verify if Linda Tripp knew about the story.
On Aug. 4, 1997, Newsweek published Isikoffs account of Willey s claims. Tripp is quoted as saying that she spoke to Newsweek "to make it clear that this was not a case of sexual harassment," and that Willeys assertions were completely rejected. Tripp teased Isikoff by saying, Theres a different story here but itll not be the same story you think it is.
Episode 4 of Episode 5 is now available.
Tripp and Lewinsky, as Episode 4 shows, spoke endlessly about a variety of topics, spending hours and hours on the phone. Tripp wasnt sure Lewinsky was being taken advantage of and felt an urge to protect her. She added that if you had spent any time with her alone, you would have felt like you were dealing with a child in hemas body. If you spent time alone with she, I would feel like I was dealing to sexy babes, she told Slow Burn in 2018.
After learning that Lewinsky had informed the president of the scandal, Tripp felt compelled to go public in order to protect herself. Lucianne Goldberg, a literary agent, has been chosen as the agent. The pair suggested purchasing a tape recorder so Tripp could have some solid evidence of the affair (the pairs initial conversation was not recorded, despite what Impeachment depicts, but subsequent planning was).
Tripps betrayal of Monica, on the other hand, is much more conspiratorial than it was in reality. Its true that Tripp manipulated Lewinsky by recording their calls (and attempting to exploit her access); listening to the tapes, you can see how Trippe steers the conversations, encourages LeWinsky impulsive thoughts, and even advises her on some of the jobs that Clinton attempted to land for her (including at Revlon and the UN). She recorded 22 hours of their conversations, which she recorded later.
Tripp offered the blue dress to Michael Isikoff for his Clinton story (he declined). While Impeachments Isikoff appears to be not too interested in the information Linda is offering him, Tripp has claimed that Iisikovoff at least tacitly supported her tactics in real life. In Jeffrey Toobin's book, A Vast Conspiracy, she told Jeffrey that she didn't mean to make more tapes, but it was understood that clearly I needed to document what I was documenting.
Goldberg helped secure a (conservative) lawyer for Tripp after arranging an introduction to Jones legal team. Tripp and Lewinsky were subpoenaed once they did. While Impeachment minimizes Isikoffs involvement in this stretch of the story, Toobin credits it as the first time the three threads the growing Kenneth Starr investigation into Clinton s finances, the Paula Jones case, and the affair with Lewinsky all started to join.
Episode 5 is the fifth episode in a series. Episode 7 is slated to air on September 28th.
Christmas has arrived, but the Yuletide spirit isn't making anyone happier. Monica learns shes been subpoenaed for the Paula Jones lawsuit, and she and Linda both struggle to get control of the story.
Tripp had a leg up on Lewinsky at this point, and she really encouraged her to keep the blue dress stained with Clintons DNA. I would like to say to my own daughter, for your own ultimate protection, which mea culpa, I hope you never need it. But I don't want you to take it away either, Tripp told Lewinsky on one of their many phone calls. Tripp, on the other hand, told Lewinsky that the dress made her look bad while she was preparing to dry clean it.
Tripp subsequently went to the FBI, in part to help secure Lewinsky's immunization, as in Episode 5. She went on to wear a wire for them in order to secure tape for the Kenneth Starr investigation. One of these instances was a lunch in Virginia, during which Lewinsky pressed Tripp to lie under oath about the incident. Unsurprisingly, it put strain on their friendship on both sides. Lewinsky was already prepared to lie herself, having written an affidavit with her lawyer procured by Vernon Jordan in which she stated that shed never had a sexual relationship with the President.
Clinton and Lewinsky's final discussion during this time was considerably different from the one they had in Impeachment. Although Clinton and Lewinsky discussed the affidavit, neither of them recalls him requiring her to lie about their relationship (although he did prompt her in saying people in Legislative Affairs gave her her new job). In fact, their final conversation in January 1998 was via phone, not in person. Whats more, Tripp told Slow Burn that she understood Clinton knew about her knowledge of the affair in July (although the podcast couldnt find an independent confirmation on that). All in all, the scene between Monica and the president in Impeachment seems largely fabricated, even if the intent of it is true.
We also get a couple of historical cameos from individuals who became important down the line. Juanita Broaddrick claimed that Clinton raped her during his 1978 campaign for Arkansas governor (Clintons attorney David E. Kendall called Broadrick accusations absolutely false in a statement at the time, and the former President has never admitted any wrongdoing). As on the show, the real Broaddrick refused to talk to Jones representatives in an effort to protect her privacy and, ultimately, did not appear until her testimony to Starr was revealed.
The other cameo comes from a tossed off line to 'Kavanaugh', referred to as Kevanough." That is indeed future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who spent three years in Starrs office and even signed a memo strongly advising the office to be aggressive in their questioning of Clinton. Kavanaugh claims in his testimony that its the office s job to expose Clintone pattern of revolting behavior.
Episode 6 of Episode 5 is now available on the ep.
When Episode 6 of Impeachment opens, the FBI is confident about their task: Lewinsky will confess to Kenneth Starrs team about her involvement in the affair, Clinton will testify the next day and be caught lying under oath, and Michael Isikoff will go to print with the story in 48 hours. But the confrontation agents estimated would take 30 minutes to an hour on Jan. 16, 1998, ultimately stretched far longer. Impeachment accurately portrays almost every detail of the surreal scene, which is remarkable.
After showing up to what she thought was just a lunch with Tripp, Lewinsky was escorted by federal agents to Room 1012 of the Ritz-Carlton, where she was threatened with jail time for lying in her affidavit for the Paula Jones case unless she agreed to cooperate with their case against Clinton. Although the threat of perjury was legitimate, it was not uncommon in these kinds of cases; as a few characters say aloud in Impeachment, the plot was primarily to secure Lewinskys testimony. Clintons campaign the president, Vernon Jordan, and even Betty Currie, the President s personal secretary wanted her to wear a wire and receive confirmation that Clinton had compelled her, under oath. During the 11 hours or so that Lewinsky was detained by the agents, they also prevented her from calling her lawyer (out of fear it would return to Jordan and the presidents camp). Lewinskys lawyer had left for the day by the time they finally relented.
As Impeachment shows, the entire night was particularly distressing for Lewinsky. Agents recall that she was aggressive, sobbing so loudly that Starrs team could hear her from the hallway. Exactly two hours after she left, she asked to speak to her mother a move that sparked the most obstinate member of Starrs team to tell her, Monica... youre 24. You dont have to call your mommy. Monica called her mom, who arrived on a train from New York City. As they waited for her to arrive, Lewinsky really did walk around the Pentagon City Mall with FBI agents, stopping at Crate & Barrel and Mozzarellas American Cafe. Lewinsky was trying to get a message out for help the entire time: It sounds crazy, but it was this feeling like somebody would be able to look at me and they would understand that I was mental telepathy. Help me. Help me. Lewisnky later told The New York Times that "Im in trouble."
She also attempted to call Curie and warn the president, but didnt get through. By 10 p.m., Lewinsky and the agents had left the hotel room and her mother arrived. She pushed her daughter to comply, got Monicas father involved, and ultimately secured the assistance of William Ginsburg, a family friend who specialized in medical malpractice, to represent her child. (No relation to the Supreme Court justice.) He assured the FBI that his client would not be making a deal yet and ordered Lewinsky and her mother to leave, which they did.
This will be updated throughout the season.
This entry was first published on September 25, 2010.