Clinton Lawyer Quizzes Tripp at Deposition
Saturday, January 16, 1999; Page A13
For the first time since Linda R. Tripp's secret tape recording sparked an impeachment crisis, a lawyer for President Clinton and his wife interrogated the Pentagon worker and launched a wide-ranging attack on her motives and credibility.
During a civil deposition this week unrelated to the president's trial, Clinton lawyer Paul Gaffney got Tripp to acknowledge she was "not complete under oath" in 1995 congressional testimony and that another time she was untruthful in a taped conversation with book agent Lucianne Goldberg when Tripp claimed she had renewed work on a book about the White House.
Tripp frequently clashed with Gaffney, at one point even suggesting that Hillary Rodham Clinton was behind an ongoing investigation into whether Tripp had violated Maryland's wiretap laws by recording Monica S. Lewinsky.
"Have you been given any indication by Maryland authorities that they cleared you of any criminal wrongdoing?" Gaffney asked.
"Oh, certainly not," Tripp retorted. "Mrs. Clinton hasn't allowed them to do that yet."
The Maryland prosecutor's office has denied bowing to political pressure in opening the investigation. The testimony came in a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has sued the Clinton administration over the White House's gathering of hundreds of FBI background files on Republican appointees. Hillary Clinton is a defendant in the lawsuit and Tripp, a witness because she worked in the White House counsel's office at the time the files were gathered.
While Clinton's impeachment trial did not come up, his lawyers could display snippets of Tripp's videotaped testimony later in the trial if senators permit them to bring in outside evidence. Presidential lawyer David E. Kendall declined to comment yesterday on that possibility.
Tripp's spokesman, Philip Coughter, said yesterday that "Mr. Gaffney's performance was of a piece with the White House tactics we have seen over and over again and which we have come to deplore, namely attempts to shift the focus from those who may have committed crimes to those who may have witnessed them."
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