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

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  • Md. Prosecutor Subpoenas Tripp Tapes

    By Toni Locy
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, October 24, 1998; Page A7

    The Maryland state prosecutor yesterday sought key evidence in his investigation of Linda R. Tripp's alleged illegal taping of former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky by demanding that one of Tripp's attorneys hand over any tapes his client made.

    Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli had a grand jury subpoena served on Joseph Murtha, a Baltimore lawyer representing Tripp, seeking the tapes.

    "We are outraged," said attorney Anthony Zaccagnini, who also represents Tripp. "This is a clear attempt to violate the attorney client privilege. We view this abuse as another attempt by Mr. Montanarelli to intimidate our client and her attorneys."

    The subpoena was accompanied by a note that said Montanarelli would not require Murtha to submit to questioning before a Howard County grand jury on Nov. 12 if he produced "originals and/or copies of any tape recordings . . . containing the voice of Monica S. Lewinsky," Zaccagnini quoted the note and subpoena as saying.

    Murtha said Montanarelli sent him a letter last month reminding him of his ethical obligations under Maryland law to produce any evidence he might have of a crime. Asked if he had any tapes, Murtha said: "I have never publicly acknowledged the existence of the tapes. I have always assumed that the attorney-client privilege precludes me from commenting."

    However, when Tripp first made an immunity deal with independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr in January, she was promised that she would be given copies of her tapes of Lewinsky. In a Jan. 16 letter, deputy independent counsel Jackie M. Bennett confirmed "the agreement" with Tripp's previous attorney, James A. Moody, that "this office will provide to you a complete duplicate set of such recordings as soon as time permits duplicate copies to be made, and in any event not later than the close of business on Jan. 19, 1998."

    Zaccagnini and Murtha declined to comment when asked if they knew whether the agreement had been honored. Moody did not return a phone call last night.

    Murtha said he will file a motion to quash the subpoena in Howard County Circuit Court.

    Gavin Patashnick, a spokesman for Montanarelli, declined to comment.

    In January, Tripp contacted Starr's office and became the catalyst for the expansion of the special prosecutor's Whitewater probe to include possible perjury and obstruction of justice in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.

    Tripp received immunity from prosecution from Starr in exchange for turning over tapes she made of phone conversations with Lewinsky from Oct. 6, 1997, until Dec. 22, 1997. On the tapes, which Tripp made from her home in Columbia, Lewinsky is heard graphically describing her sexual relationship with President Clinton.

    Montanarelli is investigating whether Tripp violated the Maryland anti-wiretapping law, which requires consent of all parties before they are taped. The prosecutor has the burden of proving that Tripp knew about the law when she taped Lewinsky.

    Earlier this week, New York literary agent Lucianne Goldberg and her son, Jonah, said they had been subpoenaed and had agreed to testify before the Maryland grand jury Nov. 12, the same day that Murtha was ordered to appear.

    Also this week, a source said that Lewinsky's attorneys and Montanarelli are discussing ways for her to avoid testifying in person before the Maryland grand jury but to provide the panel with crucial information: that she did not give her consent to being taped.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post

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