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The Lewinsky Tapes

Monica Lewinsky/Reuters Lewinsky (Reuters)
Saturday, Jan. 24, 1998
© Newsweek

The week before Christmas Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp had been subpoenaed to be deposed in the Paula Jones lawsuit. They suspected they would be asked whether Lewinsky had had a sexual relationship with the president. Lewinsky called Tripp late one evening and again the next morning. Tripp taped the conversations. Excerpts of those recordings, heard by Newsweek, follow:

Tripp asks Lewinsky for permission to tell her lawyer about the dilemma.

Linda Tripp/AP Tripp (AP)
Lewinsky: Don't you think he's going to say, "Linda, I can't let you lie?"

Tripp: He may, but it's not going to hurt us more than we are already hurt.

Lewinsky: But it's one more person who will know...

Lewinsky: Look, maybe we should just tell the creep. Maybe we should just say, "Don't ever talk to me again, I f---ed you over [by telling others about the relationship]. Now you have this information, do whatever you want with it."

Tripp: Well, if you want to do that, that's what I would do. But I don't know that you're comfortable with that. I think he should know.

Lewinsky: He won't settle [the Jones case]. He's in denial.

Tripp: I think if he f---ing knew, he would settle.

Lewinsky: I don't think so because he knows what it will end up just being is me against you. I don't want to paint you as a bad person.

Tripp: Look, Monica, we already know you're going to lie under oath. We also know that I want out of this big time... If I have to testify, it's going to be the opposite of what you say...

Lewinsky: Well, it doesn't have to be a conflict.

Tripp: What do you mean? How? Tell me how? [What am I] supposed to say if they say, "Has Monica Lewinsky ever said to you that she is in love with the president or is having a physical relationship with the president?" If I say no, that is f---ing perjury. That's the bottom line. I will do everything I can not to be in that position. That's what I'm trying to do... I think you really believe that this is very easy, and I should just say f--k it. They can't prove it.

Lewinsky: I believe you, but obviously I don't have the same feelings about the situation...

Tripp: What do you mean?

Lewinsky: Because if I had the same feelings that it was so wrong to deny something then I would not be doing it. You see what I mean?

Tripp: I think down deep you don't like having to lie.

Lewinsky: ...I don't think anybody likes to... I would lie on the stand for my family. That is how I was raised.

Tripp: You're going to die here. I would do almost anything for my kids, but I don't think I would lie on the stand for them...

Lewinsky: I was brought up with lies all the time... that's how you got along... I have lied my entire life...

Tripp: This is so amazingly huge to me... I know it's huge to you... I'm being a sh---y friend and that's the last thing I want to do because I won't lie. How do you think that makes me feel? I can make you stop crying and... I feel like I'm sticking a knife in your back and I know at the end of this, if I have to go forward, you will never speak to me again and I will lose a dear friend...

Lewinsky: Look, I will deny it so he will not get screwed in the case, but I'm going to get screwed personally.

Tripp: ...This is sick, this is sick...

The women discuss a plan for Tripp to have a "foot accident" and end up in the hospital when she is to be deposed.

Tripp: Look, I can't lie under oath so I have to think of a way that I don't have to... I only wish you'd tell the big one [that I know]. Then I'd know he knew...

Lewinsky: I can't. If I do that, I'm just going to f---ing kill myself...

Tripp: He hasn't asked you if you told anyone?

Lewinsky: ...He asked me something and I said no... The other one, the one I saw today [apparently Jordan], asked me... "You didn't tell anybody, did you?"

Tripp: And what did you say?

Lewinsky: No.

Tripp: Oh, Jesus Christ. And you think anything you tell him would definitely get back to the other one?

Lewinsky: Of course it would.

The women return to the subject of whether Clinton would settle with Jones if he knew Lewinsky had told Tripp of the alleged relationship.

Lewinsky: No, he wouldn't. I promise you that's not enough information. He's in denial about it.

Tripp: He knows you're going to lie. You've told him, haven't you?

Lewinsky: No.

Tripp: I thought that night when he called you established that much.

Lewinsky: Well, I mean, [I] don't know.

Tripp: Jesus. Well, does he think you're going to tell the truth?

Lewinsky: No... Oh, Jesus.

Tripp: So he's at least feeling somewhat safe that this is not going to go any further right now, right?

Lewinsky: Yeah...

Lewinsky's call waiting beeps in, and when she checks she finds it's her mother. After Lewinsky talks to Mrs. Marcia Lewis, she speaks again to Tripp.

Lewinsky: [My mother] understands why you think it's necessary to tell the truth. She said [the plan to avoid the deposition by having an accident is] brilliant.

The women return to a discussion of whether there is any hard evidence that could hurt them.

Lewinsky: Whatever they have, if they have anything, has to be inadmissible. Nobody saw him give me any of those things and nobody saw anything happen between us.

Tripp: Are you positive that nobody saw you in the study?

Lewinsky: I'm absolutely positive.

Tripp: How about Betty [Currie]?...

Tripp: What if they are able to subpoena records?

Lewinsky: What records?

Tripp: Phone records.

Lewinsky: Phone calls to me? Honestly... I'd say I was afraid to say he [called me] because we're friends, and I know what this case is about... I'm sure he calls on some sort of special phone.... You know he got caught once [by using a regular phone] so...

Lewinsky sighs and again expresses her wish that Clinton would settle the Jones case. She concludes it will never happen.

Tripp: You don't know that yet.

Lewinsky: Yeah, I do, from the way – what Vernon said.

Tripp: Was he definite?

Lewinsky: Oh, you could hear it in his voice. It's like done.

Tripp: But again, I go back to [the fact that] he [Clinton] doesn't know everything...

Lewinsky: Even if you didn't know [about the sexual relationship], I'd still be doing this because it's not their [the lawyers in the Jones case] business. It's not their business...

Tripp: If they have anything, it's that you were given federal employment.

Lewinsky: I already had it [a federal job] when it [the sexual relationship] started...

Tripp: I can't be involved in this. I can't be a party to all this ugliness that will do nothing except destroy people...

Lewinsky: I will have lost the two closest people to me...

Tripp: Maybe Vernon's right and it's a huge fishing net because of the rumor [that Lewinsky was having sex with Clinton]... Maybe it's just us flipping out.

The women discuss letters, photos and gifts that Lewinsky says she gave to and got from Clinton, and they debate how to respond to the portion of Lewinsky's subpoena that asks for all such evidence. Lewinsky implies that she wrote several notes to the president that would be incriminating. Lewinsky recalls a thank you note she wrote to the president after her family was allowed to watch him tape the radio address.

Lewinsky: I sent a note to Nancy [Hernreich, an assistant to the president], a note to Betty [Currie], and a note to the creep... 'Dear Schmucko, thank you... As my little nephew said, 'It was great to meet the principal of the United States.'

Lewinsky refers to an official White House photograph she has and worries that the inscription on it is so personal that lawyers will use it against her. She says she tried to call Betty Currie to ask for a clean copy of the picture so that she might give that one to the lawyers. But she says Currie is unavailable.

Tripp: My fear is that they have information that we don't know that they have... and they can nail us...

Lewinsky: If I needed to, I would say... this did not happen [the sexual relationship]... God forbid... somebody had a video camera of him and me, Iwould still say I never told you anything... First of all, for your sake, but also for my own sake.

© Copyright 1998 Newsweek

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