White House staff share somber details of how Hillary Clinton coped with the Monica Lewinsky affair

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The Clinton-Lewinsky Sex Scandal

In November 1995, US President Bill Clinton infamously began an affair with twenty-two-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

For the next year and a half, America's 42nd president would engage in a dozen sexual encounters with Lewinsky, most of which took place in the Oval Office.

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And while the nation wouldn't find out about President Clinton's scandal until January 1998, White House staff "witnessed the fallout from the affair and the toll it took on Hillary Clinton," explains Kate Brower, author of "The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House."

"You just felt bad for the entire family and what they were going through," White House maid, Betty Finney told Brower. "You could feel the sadness."

According to Brower, the president slept on a sofa on the second floor of the White House for three months during the height of the Lewinsky drama.

"Some on the staff have said that Hillary knew about Lewinsky long before it came out, and that what really upset her was not the affair itself but its discovery and the media feeding frenzy that followed," Brower writes.

"It happened and she knew it happened and everybody was looking at her," former White House storeroom manager Bill Hamilton said of the first lady.

See more from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal:

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Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
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Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky Embraces President Bill Clinton At A Democratic Fundraiser in Washington D.C. on 10/23/96. (Photo By Dirck Halstead/Getty Images)
In this image taken from video, Monica Lewinsky (wearing beret) smiles at President Clinton as he greets well-wishers at a White House lawn party in Washington Nov. 6, 1996. Lewinsky offered Friday, Jan. 23, 1998, to reverse her official story and acknowledge to prosecutors that she had sexual relations with President Clinton in exchange for immunity, according to a source. (AP Photo/APTV)
Official White House photo taken Nov. 17, 1995 from page 3179 of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's report on President Clinton, showing President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky at the White House. Congress laid before a wary nation Monday the raw footage of the presidsent's grand jury testimony and 3,183 pages of evidence chronicling his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in explicit detail. (AP Photo/OIC)
This is an August 10, 1995 photo, taken from the two-volume set of evidence delivered to lawmakers this morning from the office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. The photo shows the president and Monica Lewinsky's family in the Oval Office of the White House. From left are, stepmother Barbara, father Dr. Bernard Lewinsky, the president, brother Michael and Monica Lewinsky. (AP Photo/OIC)
This is a Nov. 17, 1995 White House photo, from page 3183 of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's report on President Clinton, showing the president and Monica Lewinsky outside the Oval Office of the White House. Congress laid before a wary nation Monday, Sept. 21, 1998, the raw footage of the presidsent's grand jury testimony and 3,183 pages of evidence chronicling his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in explicit detail. (AP Photo/OIC)
A Dec. 16, 1996 White House photo, taken from the two-volume set of evidence delivered to lawmakers Monday, Sept. 21, 1998, by the office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, shows President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky at a Christmas party. Congress laid before a wary nation Monday the raw footage of the presidsent's grand jury testimony and 3,183 pages of evidence chronicling his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in explicit detail. (AP Photo/OIC)
A photograph showing former White House intern Monica Lewinsky meeting President Bill Clinton at a White House function submitted as evidence in documents by the Starr investigation and released by the House Judicary committee September 21, 1998.
** FILE ** First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton watches President Clinton pause as he thanks those Democratic members of the House of Representatives who voted against impeachment in this Dec. 19, 1998 file photo. Her husband's dalliances with Monica Lewinsky left Americans baffled, and at the same time admiring, that Hillary would stand by her husband. "The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill, and to run for the Senate from New York," she said. She decided she wanted the marriage to last, if that was possible. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky is shown in three photos taken from her freshman, sophomore and junior yearbooks at Beverly Hills High School in Beverly Hills, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1998. Whitewater prosecutors have expanded their investigation to determine whether President Clinton had an affair with Lewinsky and tried to get her to lie about it in an affidavit she gave in Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit. (AP Photo/HO)
President Clinton is shown in this video image during his grand jury deposition Aug 17, 1998, shown during the House Managers presentation in the Senate impeachment trial of Clinton Saturday, Feb. 6, 1999. Clinton was asked if he instructed presidential secretary Betty Currie to collect gifts he gave to Monica Lewinsky. (AP Photo/APTN)
Former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, smiles during a photo opportunity in Helsinki, Finland Friday, April 9, 1999. Lewinsky is on a two-day book tour in Helsinki, to sell her new book. (AP Photo/Soile Kallio)
President Clinton ponders a question during his news conference in the East Room of the White House Thursday April 30, 1998. Embattled by controversy from Monica Lewinsky to Whitewater, the president said that "these things are distracting" but promised to work with Republicans who are increasingly attacking his integrity. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
President Clinton, daughter Chelsea and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton walk with their Labrador "Buddy" to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, August 18, 1998. The first family will travel to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. for a two week vacation. Late Monday night, the president confessed to a relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky following an afternoon of testimony before the independent counsel's grand jury. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Monica Lewinsky appears on the cover of the Feb. 2, 1998, edition of Newsweek magazine as seen Monday, Jan. 26, 1998. The issue contains exclusive excerpts of tape recordings detailing her alleged affair with President Clinton. (AP Photo)
President Clinton, his daughter Chelsea, center, and wife Hillary Rodham Clinton walk from the White House toward a helicopter as they depart for vacation Tuesday, Aug. 18, 1998. The first family will travel to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. for a two week vacation. Late Monday night, the president confessed to a relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky following an afternoon of testimony before the independent counsel's grand jury. (AP Photo/Roberto Borea)
Linda Tripp meets with reporters outside federal court in Washington Wednesday July 29,1 998 after her final appearence before a grand jury investigating an alleged affair between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. From left are, attorney Anthony Zaccagnine, her daughter Allison, spokesman Phil Coughter and attorney Joe Murtha. (AP Photo/Khue Bui)
Linda R. Tripp, a former colleague of former White House aide Monica Lewinsky, and an unidentified woman, right, meet the media outside Tripp's Columbia, Md. home Thursday, Jan. 22, 1998. (AP Photo/Roberto Borea)
Monica Lewinsky leaves Howard County Circuit Court in Ellicott City, Md., Thursday, Dec. 16, 1999. Lewinsky testified that she was frightened when she saw the first published report of her secretly taped conversations with Linda Tripp about President Clinton. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Monica Lewinsky leaves Howard County Circuit Court in Ellicot City , Md., Thursday, Dec. 16,1999. Lewinsky testified today that she was frightened when she saw the first published report of her secretly taped conversations with Linda Tripp about President Clinton. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Monica Lewinsky, and her entourage, walks back to a hotel in Washington in this Feb. 2, 1999 file photo. An assortment of controversies were tacked on to the Whitewater controversy, one by one, to the initial probe by Kenneth Starr, a prominent Washington lawyer and a conservative, including President Clinton's alleged perjury and obstruction regarding his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson, File)
President Clinton bites his lip during a pause in his remarks during an event in the White House Rose Garden Friday, Dec. 11, 1998. The House Judiciary Committee is deciding today whether to impeach the President over the Monica Lewinsky matter. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President Clinton walks to the podium to deliver a short statement on the impeachment inquiry in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington Friday, Dec. 11, 1998. Nearing a showdown over the fate of his presidency, President Clinton apologized to the country today for his conduct in the Monica Lewinsky affair and said he would accept a congressional censure or rebuke. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Monica Lewinsky, shown in this video image, is sworn in for her deposition on Feb. 1, 1999. The videotape was shown on Saturday, Feb. 6, 1999, as part of the House Managers presentation in the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton. (AP Photo/APTN)
Monica Lewinsky is shown in this video image pondering a question during her deposition Feb. 1, 1999, shown during the House Managers presentation in the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton Saturday, Feb. 6, 1999. (AP Photo/APTN)
Monica Lewinsky, whose testimony could define the future course of the Clinton administration , arrives at U. S. Federal court Thursday Aug. 6,1998 in Washington, to testify before the federal grand jury looking into the alleged affair between her and President Clinton. (AP Photo/Roberto Borea)
FILE - In this July 11, 2001, file photo, Monica Lewinsky arrives for a special screening of "The Score" in New York. Lewinsky says there's no question her boss, Bill Clinton, "took advantage" of her when he was president. But if there was any abuse in their affair, she says, it came afterward, when Clinton's inner circle tried to discredit her and his opponents used her as a pawn. The former White House intern, now 40, writes about her life in the next issue of Vanity Fair magazine, out in May 2014. In released excerpts, she says she's perhaps the first Internet scapegoat and wants to speak out on behalf of other victims of online humiliation.(AP Photo/Darla Khazei, File)
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White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier recalled that in the late afternoons, Hillary would call down and quietly ask for her favorite dessert, "Roland, can I have a mocha cake tonight?"

"I made many, many mocha cakes. You better believe it," Mesnier told Brower.

Worthington White, a White House usher, described to Brower another encounter with the first lady during the dark days following the Lewinsky affair:

One sunny weekend in August 1998, just before the president made his confession to the country, the first lady called Usher Worthington White with unusual request.

"Worthington, I want to go to the pool but I don't want to see anybody except you," she said.

"Yes, ma'am, I understand," he replied sympathetically.

White arranged for the Secret Service agents to abandon protocol, in which one agent would walk ahead of the first lady and another would walk behind her. Instead, they just trailed her.

White met Clinton, who was wearing reading glasses and carrying a few books, at the doors of a White House elevator and then escorted her to the pool — just as she had requested.

They didn't exchange a single word on the walk to the pool.

"Ma'am, do you need any butler service?" White asked her after she got settled in.

"No," she responded.

"You need anything at all?"

"No, it's just a beautiful day and I want to just sit here and enjoy some sunshine. I'll call you when I'm ready to go back."

White then explained to the first lady that within an hour he would be heading home and therefore another staff member would come to escort her back to the White House.

Clinton looked intently at him. "I'll call you when I'm done."

"Yes, ma'am," White replied, knowing that that meant he would have to stay until whenever she chose to leave.

He didn't get the call until nearly three-thirty that afternoon.

When he returned, White accompanied the first lady on another wordless walk from the pool to the second floor. Before she stepped off the elevator, the besieged first lady let him know how much his efforts meant to her.

"She grabbed me by my hands and gave them a little squeeze and looked me directly in my eyes and just said, 'Thank you.'"

"It touched my heart, White said of her gratitude. "It meant the world to me."

In January 1998, the public found out about President Bill Clinton's affair. On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice.

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