Saturday, July 4, 2020

Linda Tripp, key figure in the Lewinsky scandal, is dead

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Linda Tripp speaks to the press in Washington, July 29, 1998. – AFP

Linda Tripp, one of the main protagonists in the “Lewinsky scandal” which resulted in a recall trial of former US President Bill Clinton, died on Wednesday, his former lawyer told AFP. Joseph Murtha did not specify the causes of death of his former client, but according to his relatives, quoted in the American media, Linda Tripp, 70, suffered from pancreatic cancer.

In 1996, while employed at the Pentagon, she became friends with a new colleague, Monica Lewinsky, a 22-year-old former White House intern who told her of her affair with the Democratic President. Unbeknownst to the young woman, Linda Tripp had recorded her secrets from 1997 onwards. She also convinced her to keep a blue dress soiled with the president’s sperm.

“Unacceptable behavior on the part of the leader of the free world”

She then delivered the tapes and information about the dress to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who has been investigating Bill Clinton since 1994, initially on suspicion of corruption and then sexual harassment. The prosecutor, whose investigation was stalling, seized it to accuse the president of perjury, the latter having denied under oath to have had sexual intercourse with his intern. This investigation had led the House of Representatives to send Bill Clinton to trial before the Senate. He was acquitted in 1999.

Linda Tripp said she acted out of “patriotism” but became a symbol of the false friend, traitor, in public opinion. In 2018, she still defended her action in a podcast: “I made the deliberate choice to say that this behavior was unacceptable on the part of the leader of the free world”. A few hours before the announcement of her death, Monica Lewinsky tweeted: “No matter the past, I learned that Linda Tripp is seriously ill, I hope she will recover.”

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