Presidential affairs are not a recent thing. But what is relatively recent is video technology that helps record scandals in real-time. It’s tough to brush a scandal under the rug once there is video evidence that will last forever!
Some of the video that emerge from presidential affairs, however, become infamous. They are played over and over and become part of the news cycle or even the zeitgeist. Here are the most infamous scandalous videos that emerged from presidential affairs.
Marilyn Monroe sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to JFK
Marilyn Monroe breathily singing “Happy Birthday” to JFK on live television is one of the most infamous pop culture moments ever. But it became even more scandalous once it was revealed that Monroe and President Kennedy had likely had an affair.
The event took place in May 1962 at Madison Square Garden in celebration of JFK’s 45th birthday. Monroe and JFK were already rumored to be having an affair, and many took Monroe’s sensual, breathy performance as evidence.
Monroe herself denied an ongoing affair with the president, but according to her biographer Donald Spoto, they apparently did have a brief fling in March that year. Regardless of how long the affair actually lasted, the video of Monroe’s performance remains one of the most scandalous presidential moments in history.
“I can now retire from politics after having had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way,” JFK joked after Monroe finished her song.
Bill Clinton denies affair with Monica Lewinsky
While there have been many scandals related to presidential affairs, none were quite as notorious as the affair between Bill Clinton and 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Clinton and Lewinsky’s relationship lasted between 1995 and 1997. When it became public knowledge, Clinton actually faced impeachment over the scandal, charged with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. But in his early attempts to deny the affair, Clinton created one of the most famous soundbites in history.
In the most infamous video clip that emerged from the scandal, Clinton tried to deny the allegations of the affair. He famously stated, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” He later admitted to the affair and became fodder for comedians for the next decade.
Stormy Daniels details affair with Donald Trump
No presidential affair in recent years is more infamous than Donald Trump’s alleged affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels. In this infamous video from March 2018, Daniels detailed the 2006 affair on 60 Minutes and revealed the threats she received to keep it quiet when Trump was running for president.
Daniels claim a man approached her in a parking lot while she was with her infant daughter, saying, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”
“And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom,'” Daniels said.
Paula Jones accuses Bill Clinton of sexual harassment
An interesting side effect of Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky is that people tend to forget the original context of it. For example, investigators only discovered the Lewinsky affair due to a sexual harassment lawsuit from Paula Jones.
Jones sued Clinton in 1997, but in 1998 her case was dismissed because a court determined she could not prove the alleged damages. She appealed the dismissal and eventually settled with Clinton. This video captures both her initial accusation and Clinton’s denial of her claims.
“I’ll just put it this way, that he presented himself to me in a very unprofessional manner and I would call it sexual harassment,” Jones said.
Karen McDougal reveals affair with Donald Trump
When you think about women Donald Trump allegedly had affairs with, Stormy Daniels is the primary name that comes to mind. But another woman, former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, revealed a shocking affair with the former president.
McDougal alleged that she and Donald Trump had an affair between 2006 and 2007. She claimed that she was paid hush money by Trump, and later took Fox News to court when Tucker Carlson accused her of extorting Trump for this money.
In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN in March 2018, McDougal revealed the affair and what she would say to Melania Trump. “What can you say except I’m sorry? I’m sorry. I wouldn’t want it done to me.”
Former White House intern Mimi Alford details affair with JFK
Bill Clinton didn’t exactly invent having affairs with a White House intern. In 1962, JFK allegedly seduced 19-year-old Mimi Alford when she was an intern in the White House press office. Their 18-month affair was kept secret for 40 years.
The affair leaked in 2003, and Alford later wrote a book describing the experience. She claimed that her first time was with JFK and that they had sex in what he identified as his wife’s room.
In 2012, Alford dished on her experiences with JFK in an interview with Meredith Vieira on NBC’s Rock Center. And this just goes to show that even though the affair only lasted 18 months, the scandal from a presidential affair can (and will) last far, far longer.
Rachel Crooks describes being forcibly kissed by Donald Trump
Donald Trump faced numerous accusations from women about affairs and payoffs. And this was on top of the things he admitted to on tape, including grabbing women by their genitals against their will.
Because those accusations were so graphic, it is easy to forget Rachel Crooks’ story. She is a woman who claims she met Donald Trump in an elevator. At this point, she alleges that he forced her against the wall and forced his tongue down her throat, only getting off of her when one of his colleagues entered the elevator.
In CNN interview from 2017, she details her accusations and reminds us that sexual harassment comes in many forms and is all too common in our society.
Gennifer Flowers reveals 12-year affair with Bill Clinton
Gennifer Flowers is not a name you immediately associate with Bill Clinton nowadays. Nonetheless, she may be the longest-lasting of his many affairs.
When Clinton initially ran for president, Flowers came forward in 1992 to accuse him of having a 12-year affair with her. When Clinton denied her claims, Flowers held a press conference and played audio recordings from Clinton’s phone calls to her. “The truth is I loved him. Now he tells me to deny it,” she said.
In another video from 2018, she claims their affair was nonconsensual at times and calls for him to be punished in a post-#MeToo world.
Donald Trump brings up Bill Clinton’s affairs during presidential debate
The 2016 presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were memorable in large part because Trump liked to play dirty. And this came up when Trump was criticized in the debate over his previously-recorded statements about grabbing women by their private parts without their consent.
Trump immediately turned around and brought up sexual harassment accusations against Bill Clinton. In this video, we see Trump dismissing what he said as just “words” that paled in the face of Bill Clinton’s “actions.” He says that Bill Clinton attacked women and that in defending her husband and also attacking Bill Clinton’s alleged victims, Hillary Clinton is complicit.
Donald Trump comments on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair in 1998
In perhaps the strangest and most unusual video on this list, here we see Donald Trump in a 1998 interview with Chris Matthews, commenting on the Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones scandals that were rocking Bill Clinton’s presidency at the time.
This may be the only video we have of a future president who would go on to have his own sex scandals to comment on the sex scandals of a current president!
“You would have settled?” Matthews asks.
“Well, I would have done something certainly different from what they did,” Trump replies.
JFK’s love letters to Gunilla von Post
JFK had an affair with 21-year-old Swedish aristocrat Gunilla Von Post in the 1950s when he was a senator. And the affair was kept secret for 40 years!
Von Post revealed the affair in a 1997 book detailing the love letters JFK wrote her after he got married. And in 2010, the love letters went up for auction. In a video interview conducted when she was 77 years old, von Post revealed details of their affair, including a liaison that took place in a Swedish castle! “I borrowed him for a week, a beautiful week that no one can take away from me,” she said.
The two met in 1953, just weeks before Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier, and began a brief physical affair two years later. But the letters, mostly spanning 1955–56, reveal their emotional affair lasted much longer. The auction house claimed Kennedy even planned at one point to divorce Bouvier and bring von Post to the United States, but it never came to pass. The collection of eight love letters was auctioned off for over $88,000.