Did Linda Tripp Lie?
by DCDave

Last Friday night, February 12, 1999, in what appeared to be a very hostile interview by Jamie Gangel on Dateline, NBC, Linda Tripp made a statement about her motivation for taping Monica Lewinsky that contradicts what she had said previously and apparently contradicts the official record. Gangel asked her, in so many words, why she would do such a dastardly thing as to betray her friend and confidante, Monica Lewinsky, by taping their oh-so-private-and-personal phone conversation and then to give them to Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr, knowing, of course, what he would do with them.

Tripp's sweetly-reasoned response was that she did not begin taping until Lewinsky had asked her to lie for her by supporting her in the statement she was going to make to Paula Jones' lawyers that she did not have a sexual relationship with Bill Clinton. Knowing that she could not lie under oath in that way, said Tripp, she consulted with friend and book agent--and also confessed "Clinton hater," Lucianne Goldberg, as Gangel put it--who told her to protect herself by doing the phone taping.

Those of us with memories, however (the list excludes Gangel and the folks at Dateline, apparently), recall that Tripp's original story was that she began taping in the summer of 1997 after Clinton lawyer, Bob Bennett, had assaulted her credibility in the pages of Newsweek over what she had seen and heard when Kathleen Willey emerged from an Oval-Office meeting with Bill. We do not have to rely on our memories, however, for below is what Bill Nalty posted on alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater in the wake of a CNN interview of Lucianne Goldberg on the evening of April 6, 1998:

From Washington, D.C., here is Bernard Shaw.


BERNARD SHAW, CO-HOST: Welcome to IMPACT. Tonight, a first-hand account from the heart of the investigation of President Clinton. Paula Jones' suit against Mr. Clinton was dismissed, but the president's legal problems are far from over. Independent counsel Ken Starr says he'll press on. His latest investigation started with Linda Tripp's tapes of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Tripp won't talk, but we talked tonight to the woman who told Tripp to tape.

IMPACT's Art Harris now with Lucianne Goldberg's exclusive tale of why and how those recordings were made.


GOLDBERG: She said, a friend of mine, a woman I work with at the Pentagon, is Clinton's girlfriend. And she started to explain this, what I found, hair-raising tale about this kid.

HARRIS (voice-over): Lucianne Goldberg describing last summer's phone call from Linda Tripp, the former White House secretary. They had become good friends while working on a book idea, Tripp had once proposed, disparaging the Clinton White House.

GOLDBERG: I said, had you, do you have any proof? Do you have letters? Do you have pictures? Do you have like a second source that has, you know, seen anything? And she said, no. And I said, well, how often do you talk to this woman? And she said, every day, non- stop, at home, before dinner, after dinner, early in the morning. She said, I talk to her all the time. And I said, well, I can't see any other thing for you to do to prove that you're telling the truth, is to tape these phone calls.

HARRIS: Get Monica Lewinsky, on tape?

GOLDBERG: Just, buy a cheap tape recorder and put it on your phone, and when she calls you at home, get a tape of it so you can prove that you talked to this girl and that this is the truth.

HARRIS: Goldberg says Tripp was scared and angry. Just weeks before, Clinton lawyer Bob Bennett said Linda Tripp was not to be believed. "Newsweek" had quoted Tripp describing Kathleen Willey as happy and joyful after telling Tripp Clinton had kissed and fondled her in the White House.

GOLDBERG: Having been called a liar publicly would mean anything she might say in the future, they would point to the president's lawyer and say, well, she can't be believed.

HARRIS: Tripp was also worried "Newsweek" reporter Michael Isikoff who talked to her for the Willey story might be on to Monica Lewinsky.

GOLDBERG: She said, I need a friend I can talk to somebody. Michael Isikoff is after me and he may know more than I think he knows.

HARRIS: Tripp was also afraid because she knew too much. She knew Willey. She was friends with Lewinsky. And if she got subpoenaed in the Paula Jones' case, she would have to tell what she knew about two women and the president.

At first, Goldberg says, Tripp balked at taping her friend.

GOLDBERG: And she didn't want to do it.


GOLDBERG: She said, I feel sleazy doing it. I don't want to do that.

HARRIS: Goldberg said she'd better reconsider.

GOLDBERG: And I said, well, OK, they'll trash you. They'll destroy you.

HARRIS: So Tripp began taping. And to shore up Tripp's credibility, Goldberg also advised her to talk to the "Newsweek" reporter again, and this time, tell him about Monica Lewinsky.

(on camera): October, 1997, it was about 6:00 p.m. when Tripp, Goldberg and Isikoff met here at Goldberg's Washington apartment for about an hour. Tripp brought the tapes, but the reporter didn't listen to them. Mike Isikoff tells IMPACT, he didn't want to be party to any taping. He did listen carefully to Tripp's story though, because he had been hearing about a mysterious White House intern and the president. Now, for the first time, he had a name -- Monica Lewinsky.

We also know from the record that the new lawyers for Paula Jones were not granted discovery to look into Clinton's sordid and illicit activities with other women besides Jones until November of 1997. Some time would then have passed until Monica would have been put on the spot by the Jones lawyers and Monica would have, in turn, put Tripp on the spot by asking her to lie for her to the Jones lawyers.

So Tripp tells us that she would not lie under oath, but it certainly looks like she is now lying to the American public about her unwillingness to lie. The question is why. Why has she now told two separate and distinct stories as to why she did the taping? Might both stories be false? Could the real reason be even more compelling, and might Monica have known she was being taped, taped for her protection as well as Tripp's?

Put yourself in Monica's shoes. Would you bet your life that the police were correct that the Georgetown Starbucks triple-slaying on July 4th weekend, 1997, was nothing more than a "botched robbery." Remember that one of the victims, the young woman who was shot five times execution-style, was former fellow White House intern with Monica, Mary Caitrin Mahoney.

David Martin
February 15, 1999

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