September 13, 2000: New York Senate Debate
In a debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent, former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio, Russert raised the issues of "trust and character" and then played a clip from Matt Lauer's interview of Hillary Clinton in which she denied Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Excerpt from the full transcript:
Russert: The issue of trust and character has been raised repeatedly in this campaign. Mrs. Clinton, I want to start with you. In January of '98, you went on the "Today" Show and talked about what had occurred at the White House. I want to play that for you and our viewers and our voters and give you a chance to respond.
Lauer:So these charges came as big a shock to you as anyone.
Clinton: (January 27, 1998 "Today") And to my husband. I mean, you know, he woke me up Wednesday morning and said, "you're not going to believe this."
Lauer:And so when people say there's a lot of smoke here, your message is... Where there's smoke...
Clinton:There isn't any fire.
Lauer:If an American president had an adulterous liaison in the white House and lied to cover it up, should the American people ask for his resignation?
Clinton: Well, they should certainly be concerned about it.
Lauer:Should they ask for his resignation?
Clinton: (January 27, 1998) Well, I think that if all that were proven true, I think that would be a very serious offense. That is not going to be proven true.
Russert: Regrettably, it was proven true. Do you regret misleading the American people?
Clinton: Well, you know, Tim, that was a very painful time for me, for my family, and for our country. It is something that I regret deeply that anyone had to go through. And I've tried to be as forthcoming as I could, given the circumstances that I faced. Obviously, I didn't mislead anyone. I didn't know the truth. And there's a great deal of pain associated with that, and my husband has certainly acknowledged that and made it clear that he did mislead the country, as well as his family.