by Grand Jury Questions
By Bill Miller
Linda R. Tripp completed her second day of testimony yesterday before a federal grand jury investigating the Monica S. Lewinsky matter, and her lawyer said the woman whose secret tape-recordings of Lewinsky sparked the inquiry was encouraged by the "quality and content" of the questions put to her.
"If there's any truth to the adage that an honest person's pillow is peace of mind, I can assure you that Linda Tripp will sleep very well tonight," Tripp attorney Joe Murtha told reporters at the end of the day.
Tripp looked tired as she left the courthouse; her lawyer said she will have to return for more testimony. As she has since the Lewinsky story broke in January, Tripp declined to talk about her role as the catalyst of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigation. The grand jury Tripp testified before has spent 23 weeks reviewing the perjury and obstruction-of-justice allegations concerning President Clinton and Lewinsky that was set in motion by Tripp's secret tape-recordings of Lewinsky talking about an alleged affair with the president.
One source familiar with the investigation said that the more than 20 hours of tapes that Tripp gave to Starr on Jan. 12 have not been played so far during her testimony. However, grand jurors have previously heard portions of the tapes, in which Lewinsky reportedly tells Tripp that Clinton and presidential confidant Vernon E. Jordan Jr. encouraged her to lie about an affair in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.
Murtha declined to talk about Tripp's testimony. "The nature of Linda's testimony is so comprehensive that to release any of Linda's testimony in a piecemeal sort of fashion would really serve no purpose," he said. "Linda is actually very encouraged by the quality and the content of the questions posed by the grand jurors and by the prosecutors."
Tripp, 48, came to court with a smaller entourage than she had on her first day of testimony Tuesday. Her college-age son and daughter, who were at her side Tuesday, did not accompany her. She arrived with Murtha and co-counsel Anthony Zaccagnini, and her new media adviser, Philip Coughter.
Coughter confirmed a news report that Tripp had sought to distance herself from her Pentagon colleague last fall when Lewinsky was bombarding her with as many as 20 to 30 telephone calls a day, saying, "That's 100 percent accurate." A source said that Tripp sent Lewinsky an e-mail in October, saying, "Please give me a break; I can't take this." On Nov. 24, another e-mail from Tripp to Lewinsky said: "The information alone is a heavy burden, one I did not ask for."
A Lewinsky spokeswoman would not comment on the e-mails or the statements by the Tripp camp.
Tripp's testimony has drawn an army of reporters and photographers to the courthouse, but with the grand jury proceedings conducted in secret inside a small hearing room on the third floor, the assembled crowd has little to do for hours unless another newsmaker steps into the void.
Yesterday conservative lawyer Larry Klayman showed up in front of the cameras hoping to seize that opportunity. He came to the courthouse to talk about his group, Judicial Watch, which has filed numerous lawsuits against the Clinton administration. He even had a tie-in to the day's main event: Judicial Watch has accused the White House and Pentagon of violating Tripp's rights under the Privacy Act by leaking information from her personnel file.
Klayman accused the White House of "using taxpayer resources to smear adversaries." For a solid 20 minutes or so, he had the media to himself.
Then he lost half his audience: Tripp's lawyers were leaving the building for lunch, and the camera crews raced off to record footage of them on the move.
Staff writer Susan Schmidt and staff researcher Nathan Abse contributed to this report.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company