|Born||Linda Rose Carotenuto
November 24, 1949
Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
|Education||Hanover Park High School|
|Occupation||Former civil servant, whistleblower, small business owner|
Linda Rose Tripp (née Carotenuto; born November 24, 1949) is a former U.S. civil servant who figured in the Monica Lewinsky scandal of 1995–1996.
Tripp's action in secretly recording Lewinsky's confidential phone calls about her relationship with the President caused a sensation with their links to the earlier Jones v. Clinton lawsuit and with the disclosing of notably intimate details. Tripp claimed that her motives were purely patriotic, and she was able to avoid a wiretap charge in exchange for handing in the tapes. She then claimed that her firing from the Pentagon at the end of the Clinton administration was vindictive, while the administration claimed it to be a standard routine.
Early life and government employment
Tripp was a White House employee in the George H. W. Bush administration, and kept her job when Bill Clinton took over in 1993. During the summer of 1994, senior White House aides wanted Tripp out, so they arranged a job for her in the public affairs office in the Pentagon which gave her a raise of $20,000 per year.
Involvement in the Lewinsky scandal
Tripp became a close confidante of another former White House employee, Monica Lewinsky, while they both worked in the Pentagon's public affairs office. According to Tripp, who is about 24 years older than Lewinsky, they knew one another for a year and a half before the scandal began to reach its critical stage. After Lewinsky revealed to Tripp that she had been in a physical relationship with President Clinton, Tripp, acting on the advice of literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, began to secretly record phone conversations with Lewinsky while encouraging Lewinsky to document details of her relationship with the president.
In August 1997, Michael Isikoff, from Newsweek, reported that Tripp said that she had encountered Kathleen Willey coming out of the Oval Office "disheveled," with "her face red and her lipstick was off." Willey alleged that Clinton groped her. Clinton's lawyer, Robert S. Bennett said in the Newsweek article, "Linda Tripp is not to be believed."
In January 1998, Tripp gave the surreptitiously recorded tapes to then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Tripp disclosed to Starr that she was aware of the relationship between Lewinsky and President Clinton, that Lewinsky had executed a false affidavit denying the relationship that was submitted to the federal court in Arkansas in the Jones v. Clinton lawsuit, and that Lewinsky had attempted to suborn Tripp's perjury in the Jones v. Clinton suit to conceal the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship as well as Tripp's claim regarding Kathleen Willey from the federal court. As Tripp explained, she was being solicited to commit a crime to conceal evidence in the Jones civil rights case.
Tripp also informed Starr of the existence of a navy blue dress that Lewinsky owned that was soiled with Clinton's semen. During their friendship, Lewinsky had shown the dress to Tripp and said she intended to have it dry-cleaned; Tripp convinced her not to.
Based on Tripp's tapes, Starr obtained approval from Attorney General Janet Reno and the special court overseeing the Independent Counsel to expand Starr's investigation into the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship, looking for potential incidents of perjury, to investigate Lewinsky for perjury and suborning perjury as a witness in the lawsuit Paula Jones had brought against Clinton.
Tripp also told Starr that she had evidence directly linking the White House to the Travelgate, Filegate, and Chinagate affairs, but Starr chose not to act on that, preferring to pursue the sex-related allegations.
Tripp maintains she acted out of "patriotic duty." Tripp has claimed that she taped Lewinsky out of self-defense, as she feared retaliation from the Clinton administration, also claiming Lewinsky had assured President Clinton that she had told only Tripp about their affair (which was untrue), thus making her a target since she refused to go along with perjuring herself to protect Lewinsky and the President.
Eventually both Clinton and Lewinsky had to appear before a Washington, D.C., grand jury to answer questions, although Clinton appeared via closed circuit television. After the round of interrogation, the jurors offered Lewinsky the chance to offer any last words. "I hate Linda Tripp," she said.
Indictment by the state of Maryland
Tripp was a resident of Columbia, Maryland, at the time she made her surreptitious recordings of the conversations with Lewinsky, and 49 Democrats in the Maryland Legislature signed a letter to the state prosecutor demanding that Tripp be prosecuted under Maryland's wiretap law. Before the trial, the state court ruled that because of the immunity agreements which the Independent Counsel's office entered into with Tripp, Lewinsky, and others, a substantial amount of the evidence which the prosecution intended to use was inadmissible.
At a pre-trial hearing, the prosecution called Lewinsky as a witness to try to establish that her testimony against Tripp was untainted by the Independent Counsel investigation. However, the Maryland state court ruled that Lewinsky, who "admitted that she lied under oath in a federal proceeding and has stated that lying has been a part of her life," was not credible and Lewinsky's proposed testimony against Tripp was "bathed in impermissible taint." As a result, all charges against Tripp were dismissed on May 26, 2000, when the prosecution decided not to proceed with the trial of the case.
Arrest record controversy
On March 14, 1998, it was revealed that Linda Tripp was arrested when she was 19 years old in Greenwood Lake, New York, in 1969 on charges of stealing $263 in cash as well as a wristwatch worth about $600. The charges were eventually dismissed before coming to trial. Although never convicted in the incident, years later Tripp answered "no" to the question “Have you ever been either charged or arrested for a crime?" on the Department of Defense security clearance form.
Shortly before Tripp was scheduled to appear before the grand jury in the Lewinsky investigation, in March 1998, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Kenneth Bacon, and his deputy, Clifford Bernath, leaked to reporter Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, Tripp's answer to the arrest question on her security clearance form. Following the Bacon–Bernath leak to Mayer, the Department of Defense leaked to the news media other confidential information from Tripp's personnel and security files. The Department of Defense Inspector General investigated the leak of Tripp's security clearance form information and found that Bacon and Bernath violated the Privacy Act, and the DoD IG concluded that Bacon and Bernath should have known that the release of information from Tripp's security file was improper.
Termination from government employment
On January 19, 2001, the last full day of the Clinton Administration, Linda Tripp was fired from her job in the Pentagon. Tripp claimed that the firing was vindictive, but the Clinton administration countered that all political appointees like Tripp are normally asked to submit their resignation upon a new administration taking over, and those who refuse are fired.
Lawsuit and settlement
Tripp sued the Department of Defense and the Justice Department for releasing information from her security file and employment file to the news media in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. On November 3, 2003, Tripp reached a settlement with the federal government. The settlement included a one-time payment of more than $595,000, a retroactive promotion, and retroactive pay at the highest salary for 1998, 1999, and 2000. She also received a pension and was cleared to work for the federal government again. Her rights to remain part of a class action lawsuit against the government were also preserved.
Life since the Lewinsky scandal
Since the Lewinsky scandal, Tripp moved to Northern Virginia, married German architect Dieter Rausch in 2004 and later relocated to Middleburg, Virginia.
In an appearance with Larry King on Larry King Live on December 1, 2003, Tripp talked about living with breast cancer. On the subject of her successful invasion of privacy lawsuit against the federal government, Tripp claimed that she actually came out behind financially because of attorneys' fees and the derailment of her government career. She also claimed that her violations of Lewinsky's privacy and the Clinton administration's violations of her privacy were not equivalent, as the Clinton administration's leaking of her employment history was illegal—although her wiretapping was also illegal, she just got an immunity deal to avoid charges.
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- CNN Larry King Live Interview With Linda Tripp (Aired December 1, 2003)
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