Scenes from inside the Clinton White House

Scenes from inside the Clinton White House

White House Florist Ronn Payne remembers one day in 1998, after President Clinton had publicly admitted to his affair with a former White House intern, when he was coming up the service elevator with a cart to pick up old floral arrangements and saw two butlers gathered outside the West Sitting Hall listening in as the Clintons argued viciously with each other. The butlers motioned him over and put their fingers to their lips, telling him to be quiet. All of a sudden he heard the first lady bellow “goddamn bastard!” at the president—and then he heard someone throw a heavy object across the room. The rumor among the staff was that she threw a lamp. The butlers, Payne said, were told to clean up the mess. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Mrs. Clinton made light of the story, which had made its way into the gossip columns. “I have a pretty good arm,” she said. “If I’d thrown a lamp at somebody, I think you would have known about it.”

Payne wasn’t surprised at the outburst. “You heard so much foul language” in the Clinton White House, he said. “When you’re somebody’s domestic, you know what’s going on.”

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