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

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In November 1995, US President Bill Clinton infamously began an affair with 22-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.

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."

See the women from Clinton's "womanizing" past:

Bill Clinton's life of womanizing: consensual encounters and accusations of misconduct
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Bill Clinton's life of womanizing: consensual encounters and accusations of misconduct
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 23: Gennifer Flowers (R) blows a kiss to talk show host Larry King (L) during her live interview on CNN's Larry King Live show in Hollywood, CA 23 January. According to reports leaked to the press, US President Bill Clinton admitted during a deposition in the Paula Jones investigation to having an affair with Flowers while he was governor of Arkansas. (Photo credit should read RENE MACURA/AFP/Getty Images)
Former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky is shown in three photos taken from her freshman, sophmore 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)
Dolly Kyle Browning poses in Dallas on Feb. 5, 1998. Mrs. Browning, a longtime female acquaintance of President Clinton, who previously said the two had a sexual relationship, has contended in a lawsuit that Clinton and associates took action to prevent her from publishing a "semi-autobiographical" novel. The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court while the president was testifying by closed-circuit television to a federal grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky investigation. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin, File)
Former Miss America Elizabeth Ward poses with her Miss Arkansas crown in Hot Springs, Ark., on July, 13, 1981. Ward, now Elizabeth Ward Gracen, told the New York Daily News that she had consensual sex with Bill Clinton when he served as Arkansas governor. (AP Photo/File)
Former beauty queen Sally Perdue of Houston, Texas, announces plan Wed. May 16, 1990 to become the first American to run the length of the Great Wall of China. The 1958 Miss Arkansas said in 1992 that she had had an affair with Clinton in 1983. She claimed that she had been warned not to go public by a Democratic Party official. (AP Photo/str-Le Jen Chen)
An emotional Paula Jones takes a moment to compose herself as she addresses the media at a news conference in Dallas, Thursday, April 16, 1998. Jones and her attorneys will ask an appeals court to reverse a judge's dismissal of her lawsuit and force President Clinton to stand trial for sexual harassment. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin)
Friends of Juanita Broaddrick protest on the sidewalk in front of Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign headquarters in New York, Aug. 19, 2000. The group protested Mrs. Clinton's lack of response to Broaddrick's allegation that she was raped in 1978 by then Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey)
Former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey speaks about her relationship with President Bill Clinton, May 11, 1999 in Washington, DC on the television show 'Hardball' with Chris Mathews. On September 21, 2000, Willey, now known as Kathleen Willey Schwicker, announced that she is suing Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton and other White House personnel for violations of privacy and civil rights. (Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers)
The emergence of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, second from left in this combination picture, into the political spot light this week, has cast doubts on the character of President Clinton. The situations of other women, which have also raised questions on Clinton's character, are Gennifer Flowers, left, Paula Jones, third from left, and Kathleen Willey. (AP Photo)

"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.

RELATED: Do you believe that Bill Clinton's alleged past sexual misconduct affects Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the election?

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 the 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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