In the 239-year history of the United States, only two of its 44 presidents have been impeached. Andrew Johnson, the 17th president, faced a jury comprised of the U.S. Senate when he was impeached in 1868, the result of a political power struggle and his violation of a law later deemed unjust by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for receiving oral sex from someone other than his wife. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the 106th Congress spent $70 million dollars to investigate if the guy lied about being a sleaze. Like plenty of presidents hadn’t done worse. In fact, people have buzzed about who in the White House is having sex since just after it was originally constructed in the late 18th century.
Of course, back when Thomas Jefferson was having sex with the house slave (who happened to be his late wife’s half-sister), it wasn’t as if there were no whispered rumors. But sex in general was a taboo topic among the society of the time. Plenty of people were sleeping around, but nobody openly talked about it. Even when Kennedy’s playboy ways were revealed, it wasn’t a priority for Congress. But by the time Slick Willie soiled a certain blue dress, every media outlet wanted all the scandalous details.
Presidential sex scandals, however, aren’t even limited to Jefferson, Kennedy and Clinton. Check out the top 10 most shocking presidential sex scandals in U.S. history.
10. Abraham Lincoln – Honest Abe Was Gay?
Was Honest Abe secretly gay? We know he was married, and fathered four sons with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. And during his lifetime, there were no known rumors of Lincoln’s possible homosexuality. His greatest marital scandal at the time was likely his wife’s apparent mental illness. But as early as 1926, Lincoln biographers began alluding to a possible homosexual relationship between Lincoln and his long-time friend, Joshua Fry Speed. The two men lived together and shared a bed for four years. Of course, it wasn’t necessarily a scandal or anything homosexual when two men slept in the same bed during those years. But still, four years?
During the Civil War, Lincoln also shared his bed with his bodyguard, a certain Capt. David Derickson, when Mrs. Lincoln was away – a situation that was the stuff of gossip at the time. Still, most historians argue that there was nothing sexual about Lincoln’s male relationships. Interestingly enough, however, Lincoln himself penned a mysterious poem:
For Reuben and Charles have married two girls,
But Billy has married a boy.
The girls he had tried on every side,
But none he could get to agree;
All was in vain, he went home again,
And since that he’s married to Natty.
9. Richard Nixon – Alleged Gay Affair
Few would claim Richard Nixon wasn’t a scandalous president, but they may not know that Watergate was far from the first scandal to mar Tricky Dickie’s presidency. In his 2015 book, “Nixon’s Darkest Secrets,” former White House correspondent Don Fulsom claimed Nixon had an affair with Charles “Bebe” Rebozo, a banker from Florida with strong ties to the mafia.
According to Fulsom, although Nixon was estranged from his wife for most of their marriage, he was particularly close to Rebozo. Of course, Fulsom can offer no proof the relationship was sexual, but other reporters have also claimed that Nixon often held hands under tables and cuddled Rebozo after drinking.
You might think by 2015 the public wouldn’t find Nixon’s (possibly) secret sexual orientation to be scandalous. But not only did Nixon’s alleged boyfriend befriend and launder money for a couple of mob bosses, Nixon was publicly quite the homophobe. When one of his aides was caught having sex with another man in a YMCA bathroom, Nixon called him “ill” and said that homosexuals “cannot be in places of high trust.”
8. George W. Bush – Suicide Victim Claimed Bush Raped Her
In September 2003, Texan Margie Schoedinger died of a gunshot to the head; an apparent suicide. Very sad, but not a presidential scandal, right? Wrong. Three years prior, Schoedinger had filed suit claiming that the-then Gov. George W. Bush had raped her. Oddly, by 2002, only one mainstream media outlet, Texas’ Fort Bend Star,” picked up the story. And the Sugar Land, Texas police department denied any record of Schoedinger’s complaints.
Schoedinger accused Bush – as well as other men claiming to be FBI agents – of drugging her and sexually assaulting her numerous times. Ranks right up there with those who claim they’ve fallen under CIA mind control, right? Not necessarily.
According to the court petition, Schoedinger said assailants linked to Bush attempted unsuccessfully to abduct her from her car just before the 2000 presidential election, but the Sugar Land police refused to even take a report of the incident. Schoedinger then sued the police department. It was eventually revealed to police that the plaintiff had dated Bush when she was a teenager. She refused, however, to speak with the press. Nine months after she filed the lawsuit, Schoedinger was dead, and while rumors were whispered among online communities, the major media ignored the news. Since when does the media ignore scandal?
Still, it’s not far-fetched that a woman making deranged claims would kill herself, right? Decide for yourself.
7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt – Blackmail For Sex?
Before FDR was stricken by polio, he was widely known as a playboy and a womanizer. Even after he was confined to a wheelchair, a certain appendage was apparently still functioning quite well. It’s commonly known that he began a long-term affair with his wife’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer, sometime around 1916. Eleanor Roosevelt discovered a collection of love letters between the two in 1918, and marital relations between the husband and wife ceased from that point on. Apparently the relationship between FDR and Mercer continued, as she – and not Eleanor – was present when he died in 1945.
But the loving relationship between FDR and Mercer was not his only marital indiscretion. The president’s son once wrote of FDR and Marguerite “Missy” LeHand, claiming: “Everyone in the close knit inner circle of father’s friends accepted it as a matter of course. I remember being only mildly stirred to see him with Missy on his lap as he sat in his wicker chair in the main stateroom holding her in his sun-browned arms.” FDR even left LeHand half of his $3-million estate.
Then there was Roosevelt’s cousin, Margaret Suckley. FDR reportedly built a secret love nest on his estate specifically for his rendezvous with Suckley. Most scandalous, however, were reports that FDR blackmailed Princess Martha of Norway into having sex with him in return for war aid to her husband Crown Prince Olav and Norway in 1941.
Meanwhile, Eleanor Roosevelt amused herself with a series of alleged lesbian relationships.
6. Grover Cleveland – Fathered Illegitimate Child
The year was 1884, and the Democratic favorite for president, New York Gov. Grover Cleveland, was gaining traction. Now we all know that Cleveland won the election, but his campaign nearly came to a screeching halt when a newspaper in Buffalo, N.Y. broke a story claiming Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child – a scandalous affair in the 19th century. Apparently, a woman named Maria Halpin had given birth to a son surnamed Cleveland before being mysteriously committed to a mental asylum.
The Cleveland camp admitted to the candidate’s misdeed, but reminded the public Cleveland was unmarried at the time of the affair and then started slut-shaming. Cleveland’s campaign explained that Halpin was free with her affections not only with Cleveland, but with a whole lot of men around town. Even though Halpin told the Chicago Tribune that she had been raped by Cleveland, voters must have bought his explanation, because as we all now know, Cleveland was elected as the 22nd and the 24th president.
5. Warren G. Harding – The Serial Cheater, “Jerry”
Harding was known as a serial cheater, and upon his unexpected death in 1923 it was even rumored that his wife Florence had become so jealous that she poisoned him. So proud was Harding of his sexual prowess, he even nicknamed his member, “Jerry.”
In a recently-released 1915 letter to his mistress, Harding wrote, “Jerry — you recall Jerry…— came in while I was pondering your notes in glad reflection, and we talked about it…He told me to say that you are the best and darlingest in the world, and if he could have but one wish, it would be to be held in your darling embrace and be thrilled by your pink lips.” And in another letter, penned in 1918, Harding wrote, “Wish I could take you to Mount Jerry…”
“Jerry” caused quite the scandal in 1927, however, when Nan Britton, a woman claiming to be the-then dead Harding’s former mistress, released a tell-all book claiming Harding fathered her daughter. Harding wasn’t alive to confirm or deny until 2015 when DNA analysis confirmed Harding’s paternity of Britton’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing.
4. James Buchanan – The Worst Kept Secret
Commonly referred to as America’s only “bachelor” president, James Buchanan never married, but that doesn’t mean the 15th president was a loner. In fact, Buchanan lived with pro-slavery Alabama Sen. William Rufus King for 15 years – and the relationship was no secret. Washington circles commonly referred to the pair as “Siamese twins,” a mid-19th century slang term for gay and lesbian couples. Even former President Andrew Jackson once wrote of King, calling him “Miss Nancy.” Other politicians referred to King as Buchanan’s “better half,” “his wife,” and called him, “Aunt Fancy.”
While Buchanan never officially came out of the closet, he expressed heartbreak when King was appointed envoy to France in 1844, writing, “I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them.”
3. Thomas Jefferson – Allegedly Fathered Slave’s Children
A list of presidential sex scandals couldn’t possibly be complete without including Thomas Jefferson and his alleged long-term love affair with Sally Hemings, his half-black slave and half-sister of Jefferson’s late wife. During the time of their affair, Hemings gave birth to six children, all said to remarkably resemble Jefferson. In fact, claims that Jefferson fathered Hemings children became public as early as 1802. Jefferson later freed the children upon their reaching adulthood. Two of those Hemings descendents, Madison and Eston, indicated during their lifetimes that Jefferson was their father.
The story of the Jefferson/Hemings love affair perpetuated until 1998, when DNA samples of several male-line descendants of Jefferson’s close relatives and Eston Hemings proved a positive genetic link between the families. While most of the world interpreted the DNA results as proof the affair was a true story, some Jefferson descendants insisted the Hemings children were instead fathered by one of Jefferson’s nephews, even though the DNA test also proved there was no genetic relationship between Hemings and the specific nephews. Since that time, the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society concluded that Hemings’ children were more likely fathered by Jefferson’s younger brother Randolph.
2. John F. Kennedy – The Playboy President
It’s no secret that JFK was a habitual cheater, and would practically sleep with anything not nailed down. His conquests included actresses Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Angie Dickinson and Gene Tierney, stripper Blaze Starr, painter Mary Pinchot Meyer, Judith Exner Campbell, and even two White House secretaries referred to as “Fiddle and Faddle.” The list goes on and on. And despite all his infidelities, his wife remained true to the philandering politician.
A then-19-year-old White House intern even claimed an 18-month affair with Kennedy, and upon a pregnancy scare a Kennedy aide arranged an illegal abortion. JFK was even known at the time to commonly say if he didn’t have sex every day, he would get a headache. It’s now considered, however, that Kennedy’s insatiable appetite for women could have been a legitimate side effect of medication used to treat his Addison’s disease.
1. Bill Clinton – He Loves His Women
Clinton may or may not be as big a hound dog as Kennedy, but his sex scandals were undoubtedly the biggest in U.S. history. After all, Clinton’s White House liaisons ultimately got him impeached. Even as Clinton was still governor of Arkansas, stories of his sexual exploits were rampant. Ultimately – before he ever met a certain Ms. Monica Lewinsky – Clinton was accused of sexual impropriety by a string of women, including Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones. And thanks to Clinton’s White House indiscretions, racy jokes concerning cigars and blue dresses have forever entered the political lexicon.
Although Clinton at one time insisted he never had “sexual relations” with Lewinsky, he ultimately admitted to extramarital relationships with the infamous White House intern and Gennifer Flowers, who first reported her 1980 affair with Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign.
Even before the Lewinsky scandal, Paula Jones brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton, which eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was during his deposition for the Jones lawsuit that Clinton famously denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky, leading to the impeachment charge of perjury.