One of the main protagonists in the Monica Lewinsky case leading to the dismissal trial of former President of the United States Bill Clinton, Linda Tripp, died on Wednesday April 8. It was his former lawyer Joseph Murtha who announced the news, without giving the reasons for the death. Sources say Linda Tripp, 70, suffered from a pancreatic cancer.
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In 1996, while employed at the Pentagon, she became friends with a new colleague, Monica Lewinsky, a 22-year-old former White House intern. She had told him about 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 by the president’s sperm.
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Act by “patriotism”
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.
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Linda Tripp had declared to have acted out of “patriotism” but had become in public opinion the symbol of the false friend, traitor. 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 had tweeted: “no matter the past, I learned that Linda Tripp is seriously ill, I hope she will recover”.