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Attorney Says Tripp Has Been Vilified, Fears Loss of Job

Associated Press
Monday, April 20, 1998; Page A09

An attorney for Linda R. Tripp, whose secret tape recordings triggered the investigation into Monica S. Lewinsky's alleged affair with President Clinton, said yesterday that his client has been unfairly labeled a "betrayer" and now fears being fired from her job at the Pentagon.

"Linda has chosen to tell the truth. That has put her in a tremendously tough situation and she is now the subject of vilification by all the supporters of the president," the lawyer, Anthony Zaccagnini, said on ABC's "This Week."

Former White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, appearing later on CNN's "Late Edition," said: "I don't think the White House has been vilifying her."

Tripp has not worked at her Pentagon office since the Lewinsky controversy erupted in January. Zaccagnini said she twice has asked to return to her former position at the Pentagon but the department has refused.

Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Cooper, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on Tripp's request, but he said she remains a Pentagon public affairs specialist. Tripp, a Clinton political appointee who makes $88,000 annually, no longer directs the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference but is drafting an operating manual for the program, which raises public understanding of defense issues.

Does she believe she's going to be fired?

"Absolutely," Zaccagnini said.

Zaccagnini said Tripp likely would be called within weeks to testify as a grand jury witness in the independent counsel's investigation regarding allegations that Lewinsky, a former White House intern, had an affair with Clinton.

Lewinsky allegedly told Tripp during secretly recorded telephone conversations that she had a sexual relationship with Clinton and was encouraged to cover it up. But in an affidavit filed in Paula Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit against the president, Lewinsky denied having a such a relationship.

Zaccagnini also said Tripp does not know who wrote a mysterious three-page "talking points memo," but indicated she does not think it was Lewinsky -- for reasons "I really can't disclose."

Prosecutors are trying to determine who wrote the document urging Tripp to file an affidavit in the Jones case backing away from her account of Kathleen E. Willey's story that Willey had been fondled by Clinton. The document also urges Tripp to say Lewinsky lied about her alleged affair with Clinton.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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