Linda Tripp, a former White House and Pentagon employee, gave evidence in the impeachment trial of then-US president.
A former White House and Pentagon employee, who secretly taped conversations with a young intern who had had an affair with then-US President Bill Clinton, leading to his impeachment, has died.
Linda Tripp’s death was confirmed to the Washington Post newspaper by her son, Ryan Tripp, and to the New York Post newspaper by her son-in-law, Thomas Foley, who said Tripp’s unspecified illness was unrelated to the coronavirus.
The Daily Mail newspaper in Britain cited a longtime close friend, Diane Spreadbury, as saying Tripp died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Tripp had been treated for breast cancer in 2001.
Tripp became a controversial national figure as the Clinton impeachment investigation unfolded in 1998. She provided evidence of her conversation with former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, who confessed to an affair with Clinton.
As news broke that Tripp was near death, Lewinsky wrote on social media: “no matter the past, upon hearing that linda tripp is very seriously ill, i hope for her recovery. i can’t imagine how difficult this is for her family.”
Lewinsky was 22 when she worked as a White House intern in summer 1995. That November she and Clinton began their affair which continued after she was hired for a West Wing job. Reassigned to the Pentagon in April 1996, Lewinsky met Tripp and they became friends.
Tripp provided nearly 20 hours of recorded conversations with Lewinsky to special counsel Ken Starr, who had been investigating assorted allegations against the president. Starr’s report, which included a graphic account of the sex scandal, became a bestseller.
Clinton had denied during an earlier deposition for a separate case that he had “sexual relations” with Lewinsky.
His denial became central to an article of impeachment charging perjury. A second article charging obstruction of justice stemmed from allegations of encouraging perjury by witnesses and other wrongful actions.
The House impeached Clinton in December 1998. After a five-week trial in the Senate, senators rejected both articles on February 12, 1999.
While defending the taping as necessary to protect herself if her credibility were questioned, Tripp also consulted with a New York literary agent before beginning her secret recordings.
At the time of the scandal, Tripp had been a career civil service employee and since 1994 she had worked for the defence department.
Before that, she had spent a year working on Clinton’s transition team and had been a confidential assistant in the office of the White House counsel in George H W Bush’s administration.
In January 2001, Tripp lost her Pentagon job and nearly $100,000 annual salary when the George W Bush administration came into office. She later sued the defence department and reached a settlement of $595,000 for the final three years of her employment.