Archive papers reveal that No10 was concerned about Monica Lewinsky’s affair and whether it could harm Tony Blair.

  • Bill Clinton had an affair in 1998 with Monica Lewinsky, a 22-year old intern. 
  • Secretly, Aides instructed US lawyers in secret to assess how trouble the president was in
  • Also dropped is the plan for Cherie Blair, to participate in the White House internship scheme seminar
  • Mr Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell advised him to ‘weigh in for President’ 

Blair’s administration was concerned that Clinton could associate him with Monica Lewinsky.

As the details were being finalized for the February 1998 trip to the United States, US attorneys received instructions from Aides that they assess how troubled the president was over the affair with his intern.

Plans for Cherie Blair’s attendance at a seminar about a White House intern program were cancelled. 

He was falsely denied having an affair with Miss Lewinsky and was later impeached.

Papers released by the National Archives show Mr Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell advised him to ‘weigh in for the President’ at their joint press conference.

In the event, Mr Blair called Mr Clinton ‘someone I can trust, someone I can rely upon, someone I am proud to call not just a colleague but a friend’.

Prime Minister Tony Blair (left) and American President Bill Clinton during the former's first visit to the White House in May 1998

Tony Blair, the Prime Minister (left) with Bill Clinton, the American President at the White House during Bill’s May 1998 visit.

In January 1998, as preparations for the February visit were being finalised, Mr Clinton stated that he ‘did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.’

He was later impeached and charged with perjury. However, he was ultimately acquitted.

Ahead of the trip, Jonathan Powell, the prime minister’s chief of staff, noted the White House was hoping for a ‘Bill and Tony show’ to shore up Mr Clinton’s position.

He took the precaution of commissioning a Washington law firm, Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan LLP, to advise on the extent of the president’s legal predicament.

Summarising the legal situation ahead of Mr Blair’s trip, the lawyers stated that if Mr Clinton had lied about his relationship with Ms Lewinsky, he would be charged with perjury.

‘You remember that Al Capone was eventually convicted of tax evasion. It is no different in this case,’ John McInespie, a lawyer at the firm, wrote.

‘So far our people say that there is no “smoking gun” to charge Clinton with anything, but that might not be the case by the time of the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister.’

They concluded: ‘Please remember that Nixon only resigned after the Supreme Court ordered the release of the tapes. So far, there are no relevant tapes in this case.’