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Goldberg to Turn Over Tripp Tapes

New York literary agent Lucianne Goldberg is escorted by a Howard County police officer as she arrives at court in Ellicott City, Md., Thursday. (AP)

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  • Key Players: Linda Tripp, Lucianne Goldberg

  • By Paul W. Valentine
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, November 12, 1998; Page A5

    New York literary agent Lucianne Goldberg said yesterday that she will turn over copies of two tape recordings to Maryland prosecutors who are investigating whether Linda R. Tripp made illegal recordings of conversations with Monica S. Lewinsky.

    Goldberg is scheduled to appear today, along with her son, Jonah, before a Howard County grand jury that is investigating the tapes for Maryland State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli.

    In a telephone interview, Goldberg said the two tapes, entrusted to her by Tripp, were the earliest ones Tripp recorded in October 1997. Tripp claims she did not know at that time it was against the law in Maryland to record conversations without the consent of the person being taped.

    "They're absolutely useless to" Montanarelli, said Goldberg, noting that Maryland's anti-wiretap law requires prosecutors to prove that a person making surreptitious recordings was aware of the law at the time of the taping.

    But the tapes still may represent the corpus delicti of his case -- the basic piece of evidence suggesting a crime was committed. Still to be determined is whether the tapes, both copies of the originals, can be authenticated as genuine duplicates.

    Also, Tripp's attorneys could challenge the tapes as inadmissible derivatives of the originals that Tripp turned over to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr under a grant of immunity from prosecution.

    Tripp, a Columbia resident who became a confidante of Lewinsky's, made more than 20 tapes with the former White House intern from early October to late December 1997. Tripp did so after Goldberg urged her to document the conversations to protect herself if there was a coverup of Lewinsky's affair with President Clinton. In the tapes, Lewinsky discusses her relationship with Clinton and White House efforts to help her find a new job.

    Tripp turned the tapes over to Starr's office in January, shortly after she provided an account of her conversations with Lewinsky that led Starr to expand his Whitewater investigation to include possible perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Clinton in connection with the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit against the president.

    Goldberg said yesterday that she also will turn over two tapes she made of telephone conversations she had with Tripp in September 1997. On one of the tapes, she said she told Tripp, erroneously, that taping was legal in Maryland.

    Tripp last summer told a grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter that she did not learn that unconsented taping was illegal in Maryland until two lawyers warned her about it in November 1997, after she had already made more than a dozen recordings.

    She said she stopped taping for a brief period, then decided to resume, making tapes with Lewinsky on Dec. 12 and Dec. 22. If indicted and convicted, Tripp could face a maximum of five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

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