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  Linda Tripp Fired From Pentagon Job

By Pete Yost
Associated Press Writer
Friday, Jan. 19, 2001; 1:46 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON –– Linda Tripp, the woman whose secret tape recordings led to President Clinton's impeachment, was fired Friday by the Clinton administration after she refused to resign like other political appointees, her lawyer said.

"The termination of Linda Tripp is vindictive, mean-spirited and wrong," attorneys Stephen Kohn, David Colapinto and Michael Kohn said in a statement. "President Clinton should not have ended his presidency on such a vengeful note."

Word of Tripp's firing came as Clinton reached a deal to settle the remaining legal issues from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

As a political appointee, Tripp was asked in recent days by her superiors to resign her position in preparation for the change in administrations, but on the advice of her attorneys she refused to do so in a letter Thursday addressed to Clinton.

Kohn blamed Clinton for the dismissal, saying that the ultimate responsibility for firing political appointees like Tripp rests solely with the president.

Tripp, a Department of Defense employee, was out of the country and the Clinton administration refused to show the letter of dismissal to her lawyers.

Kohn said that he was told of the termination by the Defense Department.

Tripp is suing the government, alleging the Clinton administration illegally released to The New Yorker information showing she stated on a security clearance form that she had never been arrested, when in fact she had. She was arrested for grand larceny when she was a teen-ager and pleaded innocent. A judge disposed of the case by reducing the charge to loitering.

In their statement Friday, Tripp's lawyers said that "one week before her scheduled appearance before a federal grand jury" in the Lewinsky scandal, "President Clinton's loyalists fraudulently gained access to Linda Tripp's confidential government security files, and illegally leaked information."

The Justice Department investigated the release of the information, but declined to prosecute.

Tripp, whose secret tape recordings of Lewinsky confiding an affair with Clinton triggered the scandal, said she would do it all over again, "only better and sooner."

"I have absolutely no regrets about what I did," Tripp told George magazine. "What's important is that a president of the United States was willing to fix a court case" to save himself.

The tapes Tripp gave to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr led to the perjury and obstruction of justice probe of Clinton, his impeachment in the House and a Senate trial that acquitted him.

Tripp's tapes led to her indictment on state wiretapping charges in Maryland. But a Maryland judge's ruling forced prosecutors to abandon their criminal case.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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