WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Newt Gingrich, who led the U.S. House of Representatives as it prepared to impeach Bill Clinton in a sex-and-perjury scandal, acknowledged in an interview released on Friday that he was having an affair at the time.
Gingrich, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, was asked by James Dobson of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, whether he was engaged in an extramarital affair when former President Clinton was involved with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
“The honest answer is ‘yes,'” Gingrich said in an interview released on the group’s Web site. “But it’s not related to what happened.”
The affair has been widely reported previously.
Referring to his efforts as House speaker to oust Clinton, a Democrat, Gingrich said he was not judging the president personally.
“I drew a line in my mind that said even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept felonies and you cannot accept perjury in your highest officials,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich stepped down as speaker and quit Congress in 1998 amid ethics allegations and Republican losses in midterm elections.
Although the House impeached Clinton in December of that year for perjury and obstruction of justice, he was acquitted two months later in a Senate trial.
Gingrich has been married three times. In an often-told story, he discussed divorce details with his first wife, Jacqueline, while she was recovering from cancer surgery.
In 1981, he married Marianne Ginther, and they were divorced in 2000. Later that year he married a young congressional aide, Callista Bisek.