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Clinton 'Proud' of Impeachment Fight

<I>My Life</I> by Bill Clinton
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My Life by Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton says he tried to separate his "personal mistakes" in the Monica Lewinsky scandal from his battle to fight an "illegitimate" impeachment over efforts to conceal his affair with the White House intern.

"I was responsible for what I [did], both as a person and as a president throughout my whole life, and I took responsibility for it, but... the impeachment was illegitimate," Clinton tells NPR's Juan Williams in the second of a two-part interview.

"What I tried to do is draw a distinction between my personal mistakes, which I very much regretted, and my willingness -- indeed eagerness -- to fight impeachment, which I am proud of," Clinton says.

In 1998, Clinton became the second U.S. president to be impeached in the House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate subsequently acquitted Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

The former president, who spoke in conjunction with the release of his new autobiography, My Life, says conservatives were out to get him because of his political successes. "The more our approach worked, the madder they got and the more they had to go after me personally," Clinton says.

He refuses to take blame for former Vice President Al Gore's defeat in the 2000 presidential election. Given Clinton's 65 percent approval rating upon leaving office, for voters to "punish Al Gore would have been not only unfair, it would have been self-defeating," Clinton says.

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Juan Williams
Juan Williams, one of America's leading journalists, is a news analyst, appearing regularly on NPR's Morning Edition. Knowledgeable and charismatic, Williams brings insight and depth — hallmarks of NPR programs — to a wide spectrum of issues and ideas.