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July 19, 2016 12:30 PM

Seventeen years after JFK Jr.’s death, his closest friends reveal never-before-told stories about his life and final weeks. Subscribe now for an inside look at the JFK Jr. you never knew, only in PEOPLE!

At the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, John F. Kennedy, Jr. teased then-President Bill Clinton over the affair with a cheeky note, a friend reveals.

“I was working in the White House when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was going on,” Paul Begala, a one-time Clinton aide and current CNN political commentator, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I had a fax machine which very few people had the number to. It starts kicking in, and there’s no cover sheet, just a page – it was John.”

“It just said, ‘Dear Mr. President, I sat under that desk – there’s barely room for a 3-year-old, much less a 21-year-old intern. Cheers, J.K.’ Typical John.”

Monica Lewinsky in 2015
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Nancy Kaszerman/Zumapress.com

Begala, 55, is also featured in the new SPIKE TV documentary I Am JFK Jr.

Kennedy was, of course, referencing the famous image of him under the Oval Office desk taken while his father, John F. Kennedy was President. Clinton, who was being impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice over his testimony about the Lewinsky affair during a sexual harassment lawsuit, laughed when he saw Kennedy’s note.

“I showed the President and he laughed his butt off,” says Begala. “It was so gutsy. And he was the perfect person to bring a little levity.”

JFK Jr. on the cover of PEOPLE

Begala explains of Kennedy, “That’s a remarkable ability that he had, really remarkable, to step outside of himself. He had the strongest sense of ironic detachment of anyone I’d ever known. Maybe that was a coping mechanism. Of course people who knew his father say his father was the same way.”

Related Video: Would JFK Jr. Have Run for President?

Kennedy died alongside wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister, Lauren, in a tragic, 1999 plane crash at 38.

I Am JFK Jr. airs on SPIKE TV August 1 and opens in select movie theaters this week.

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