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Tripp Accuses Clinton of Abuse, Says She'd 'Do It All Again'

Linda Tripp Linda Tripp speaking to the press in July. (AP)

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  • By Pete Yost
    Associated Press Writer
    Friday, February 12, 1999; Page A25

    Linda R. Tripp, whose secret tape recordings spurred the impeachment crisis, said yesterday she'd "do it all again" and expose a relationship in which President Clinton "abused, used, discarded" former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky.

    In one of her first interviews since the scandal broke, Tripp told NBC that "the public has no clue . . . absolutely no idea what Monica endured . . . the histrionics, the hysteria, the throwing of lamps, the damage to herself." She said Clinton "emotionally abused Monica."

    Tripp told the New York Times that Lewinsky was so distraught about her affair with Clinton that Tripp feared she might do herself harm. While Tripp said she believed removing Clinton from office was too severe a punishment and favors censure instead, she told the newspaper, "Legally, so far it appears he will suffer no dire consequences for his actions. The fear I have is that he will take from this a sense of his own omnipotence, that he truly can defy all odds."

    "People think this" relationship was "consensual and that I inserted myself somehow," but "it was not," Tripp said in the NBC interview, to be aired this morning on the "Today" show.

    Tripp has emerged as one of the most unpopular figures in the presidential scandal, accused of betraying her friendship with the younger Lewinsky by secretly taping the telephone calls in which she talked about her affair with the president.

    Tripp turned over the tapes to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and told the Times she did so at the suggestion of literary agent Lucianne Goldberg. "It never occurred to me to go to Ken Starr. It wasn't on my radar screen," Tripp said.

    She remains under investigation by Maryland authorities for possible violation of the state's wiretapping law.

    Save for her grand jury appearances and the release of her tapes, Tripp has seldom been heard from over the past year. During a brief statement on the courthouse steps, she said she had been mischaracterized and told Americans: "I'm you."

    A former White House worker now employed at the Pentagon, Tripp insisted in both interviews that she would want someone to expose an improper relationship if it involved her daughter, just as she did for Lewinsky.

    She said she took her actions because she was being asked by Lewinsky to lie in Paula Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton, which was "not an option for me."

    "I would do it all again," Tripp said.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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