NEW YORK -- Former White House aide George Stephanopoulos believes President Clinton built a strong record but "threw it all away" by getting involved with Monica Lewinsky, Newsweek reported in its issue due out Monday.
"We accomplished, and he accomplished, more than I ever thought humanly possible. But he lost the battle with himself, tarnished his presidency and all of us associated with it," Stephanopoulos told Newsweek."The shame of the whole Clinton experience is that it was a story of a man who confronted his weaknesses and who became a better president every day. And then he threw it all away," he said.
Stephanopoulos joined the Clinton campaign in Arkansas as a key aide in 1992 and remained a close adviser to the president into his second term. But he said he left the White House after becoming burned out and depressed.
He said he would never have joined Clinton's team had he known in 1992 what he knew now but added: "He's been a good steward, and I think he's been a good president despite these horrible flaws."
Newsweek is also publishing excerpts from Stephanopoulos' upcoming book, "All Too Human."
He began writing it with the intention of describing Clinton as a man who overcame his flaws to become a good president. But he said on the day the Lewinsky scandal broke in January 1998, he began a rewrite.
"I knew in my gut that Clinton was lying" when he denied having an affair with the former White House intern, Stephanopoulos said.
After leaving the White House to become a commentator for ABC News and a Newsweek contributor, the Clinton insider found himself increasingly viewed by the administration as a foe because he did not line up to defend the president.
"That was the way it was with the Clintons: You were either for them or against them. I heard as far as Clinton was concerned, I was now a non-person -- my name was not to be mentioned in his presence," he said.
"For several years I had served as his character witness. Now I felt like a dupe."