IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Lewinsky scandal continues to influence politics, after 25 years

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Pres. Clinton Denies Lewinsky Affair
President Bill Clinton shakes his finger as he denies improper behavior with Monica Lewinsky in January, 1998. Harry Hamburg / NY Daily News via Getty Images

WASHINGTON —  If it’s Friday ... President Biden, in California, comments on discovered classified found in his office and residence: “I have no regrets. ... There’s no there-there.” ... Sen. Tim Kaine is set to announce whether he’ll run for another Senate term in 2024, NBC’s Ryan Nobles reports. ... U.S. Supreme Court says it’s unable to identify who leaked the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. ... A judge  sanctions Donald Trump and lawyer nearly $1 million for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton. … And an anti-abortion rally takes place for first time since Roe was overturned.

But first: This week marks the 25th anniversary of the event that arguably launched our current moment in politics — at least in the Internet Age. 

When Matt Drudge broke the news that Newsweek was sitting on a story about former President Bill Clinton having an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. 

Here’s what happened next: A presidential lie. An investigation. A disappointing GOP midterm. Impeachment. Senate acquittal. GOP hypocrisy. Round-the-clock media coverage and speculation. The takeoff of cable TV news. 

It remains one of the more significant forks in the road in modern political history.

What if Drudge hadn’t broken the news (and Newsweek had continued to sit on the story)?

What if Clinton — who told the American public that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman” — resigned from office when it turned out he did? 

What if House Republicans — some of whom had been engaged in their own sexual affairs (see here and here) — decided not to impeach a term-limited president? 

What if the late Ken Starr had exercised more prosecutorial caution and restraint (remember when he defended Donald Trump at his impeachment trial?)

And what if Al Gore got to run in 2000 as the sitting president, instead of Bill Clinton’s vice president? 

That scandal and its consequences are still with us today.

Quote of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 82

That’s the number of Supreme Court employees, in addition to the court’s justices, who had “access to electronic or hard copies of the draft opinion” to overturn Roe v. Wade that was leaked last year, per the Court’s investigation. 

The Court’s investigation, released Thursday, could not “identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.” 

Read more about the investigation on

Other numbers to know: 

Almost $1 million: The amount that a federal judge ordered former President Donald Trump and one of his attorneys to pay for filing a frivolous lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other political adversaries.

2: That’s how many counts of involuntary manslaughter that both actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Guiterrez-Reed face in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie “Rust.” 

7,000: The number of lights at a Massachusetts high school that have not been able to be turned off since Aug. 2021 because it hasn’t been able to fix the system software due to supply-chain issues. 

10.1%: The union membership rate in America, a new low since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting the data in 1983. 

60,000: The number of Covid deaths in China since Dec. 8, according to the Chinese government.

$490 million: The amount earmarked by the Department of Agriculture to protect Western states from future wildfires.

More than $100 million: The amount of annual revenue from South Dakota’s grocery tax, which GOP Gov. Kristi Noem promised to repeal on the campaign trail in 2022, a plan that other state Republicans do not favor. 

12,000: The number of jobs Google’s parent company, Alphabet, plans to cut worldwide.

Eyes on 2024: Arizona Senate race begins to take shape

 The Arizona Senate race is continuing to take shape, with one potential candidate announcing Thursday that he has decided not to run. 

Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton tweeted a statement saying that “now is not the right time to run.” NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard reports that Stanton’s decision likely clears the Democratic primary for Rep. Ruben Gallego, the only Democrat who has taken public steps towards a run. Newsweek reports that Gallego is planning to announce his Senate run on Monday.

Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who recently left the Democratic Party, has not yet said if she is running for a second term. Multiple Republicans are weighing runs, including Kari Lake and Blake Masters, who lost races for governor and Senate respectively in 2022. That list also includes Jim Lamon, a solar energy executive who lost the GOP primary to Masters last year. 

Stephen Peutz, a Lamon advisor, said in a statement to NBC News, “Jim knows that the right Republican could have beaten [Democratic Sen. Mark] Kelly and will get elected to the US Senate in 2024. If a winning candidate emerges, he will strongly back that person — if not, Jim will run in 2024.” 

In other campaign news:

Warren says she’s in: NBC News’ Ali Vitali reports that Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is reiterating her intentions to run again, telling Boston’s WBZTV that while she’s making a formal announcement “sometime soon” that she’s “committed to running for re-election.”

Tim Kaine watch: Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine will announce on Friday whether or not he’s running for re-election next year, NBC News’ Ryan Nobles reports. 

Praying for evangelical support: NBC News’ Jonathan Allen and Marc Caputo write about how former President Donald Trump’s complicated relationship with evangelical voters opens up that lane for other potential competitors

Friendly fire: Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley fired back after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in his book that she, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner pitched her as a replacement vice presidential candidate, calling the accusation “lies and gossip to sell a book.” Haley went on to tell Fox News to “stay tuned” as she considers a presidential bid. 

Incumbent discomfort: A new poll finds that 57% of registered Mississippi voters would prefer to vote for someone else rather than re-electing GOP Gov. Tate Reeves

Florida says no to new AP course on Black history: Florida’s Department of Education nixed a new Advanced Placement African American Studies course, saying it’s “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” It’s an issue that will likely come up with potential presidential hopeful Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has in the past criticized certain curricula as “woke.” 

McCormick tiptoes toward bid: Pennsylvania GOP Republican Dave McCormick continues to stoke interest among prominent Pennsylvania Republicans who want him to run for Senate this cycle. 

ActBlue gets a new CEO: The Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue named Regina Wallace-Jones, a former tech executive who previously served as East Palo Alto’s mayor in 2020, as its new CEO. 

Another day, another headline: The saga with New York Rep. George Santos continued on Thursday, with new revelations about a past that Santos has misrepresented. Santos on Thursday denied reporting that he performed as a drag queen in Brazil, as reports also emerged that he pocketed money intended for a sick dock and misrepresented whether his mother was at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The race for Chicago’s next mayor: Mayor Lori Lightfoot is spending more campaign money than she brings in at this point, just over one month before the city’s election, the Chicago Tribune reported. Last night, Lightfoot met the eight candidates vying to replace her on the debate stage, where they challenged her on issues like crime and affordable housing. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The federal government is investigating the possible human trafficking of children who cleaned slaughterhouses in the Midwest, NBC News’ Laura Strickler and Julia Ainsley report.

Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix is leaving his post as the company’s co-CEO but staying on as chairman.

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., was hospitalized after he fell off a 25-foot ladder at his home in Florida earlier this week, sustaining injuries that his office said were not life-threatening.