CNN Pundits Say Bill Clinton’s Harassment of Monica Lewinsky Was Different

Former president keeps facing 'awkward' moments on his book tour, but 'he's not Donald Trump,' Ana Navarro says

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 13 Jun 2018 at 8:49 AM

Ana Navarro, a CNN pundit whom the network describes as a “Republican strategist,” never misses an opportunity to excoriate President Donald Trump in the most strident terms.

But on Tuesday, she offered tepid criticism of former President Bill Clinton’s latest foot-in-mouth moment related to his own history of sexual impropriety.

Clinton, while promoting the novel he co-wrote with author James Patterson, has been dogged by uncomfortable questions about his affair in the 1990s with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The latest exchange came Tuesday when the ex-president said during a PBS interview that “norms have changed” to explain why former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) had to resign after a photo surfaced showing him appearing to grab a sleeping woman’s breast during an entertainment tour.

Navarro (shown above left) said Bill Clinton’s comments made her “cringe somewhat,” but she added that she knows and likes him. She also heaped praise on his overall character.

"He also happens to be one of the most eloquent, empathetic people in modern history, one of the most effective speakers in modern times," she said.

Navarro said Clinton's "struggles" to answer those questions are connected to his history. "It strikes home. He is vulnerable in a way where he's not just talking about this in a theoretical way." And still she compared him favorably to President Donald Trump.

"Here's the thing with Bill. Bill Clinton is not Donald Trump," she said. "He doesn't need Symone [Sanders, a Democratic strategist who also appeared on the show] or me to say what he meant to say. This guy doesn't need translation. He can do it himself."

But that is exactly what Sanders, who served as a spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in 2016, did.

"I would love to believe that the former president just got his words mixed up," she told host Brooke Baldwin (shown above, center). "I think I hear what he's trying to say."

That was a little much for Baldwin.

"Got his words mixed up? Simone," she said.

Sanders (shown above right) continued explaining what Bill Clinton "meant."

"What I believe he was trying to say was, look, previously, folks didn't necessarily report these, report what was happening to them, report misconduct in the workplace or other places, because they did not feel, perhaps, [that] they could report it," she said. "And now, it is widely acceptable, maybe, for lack of a better term, to report those things. Women are being believed."

Responded Baldwin, "You're turning it on the women, but this is also about some of the men."

"I'm not one of these that thinks that Bill Clinton got off scot-free. He didn't."

But Navarro said Clinton has suffered.

"I'm not one of these that thinks that Bill Clinton got off scot-free. He didn't," she said. "He had to face his daughter. He had to face his wife. He had to face the American people. His obituary is going to say what happened with Monica Lewinsky. It's part of his legacy. It's part of his history. Twenty years after, he's having to answer for it, still. So he didn't get off scot-free."

Related: Diamond and Silk Call Bill Clinton What Democrats Won't

Navarro also expressed selective outrage at entertainers, blasting conservative rocker Ted Nugent — but giving a relative pass to late-night comic Samantha Bee, who hurled a vulgar epithet at first daughter Ivanka Trump last month.

"The difference between a Samantha Bee, for example, and a Ted Nugent or a Donald Trump is that Samantha Bee actually realizes it, regrets it, and apologized, genuinely, for it," Navarro said.

However, accounts of a closed-door awards dinner honoring Bee for her social activism just days after her remarks calls into question how sorry the celebrity really was.

"We spent the day wrestling with the repercussions of one bad word, when we all should have spent the day incensed that as a nation we are wrenching children from their parents and treating people legally seeking asylum as criminals," Bee said at the event, as IndieWire reported. "If we are OK with that then, really, who are we?"

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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