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Lawyer Denies Having Tripp Tapes

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  • Key Player: Linda Tripp

  • By Linda Perlstein
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, December 11, 1998; Page G07

    Linda R. Tripp's former attorney told a Maryland grand jury yesterday that he did not have any tapes of conversations his client had with Monica S. Lewinsky, then refused to answer the state prosecutor's other questions, invoking attorney-client privilege.

    James Moody, who represented Tripp from January until April, said after appearing before a Howard County grand jury that he believes State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli will seek to compel him to answer the questions about Tripp and the tapes. Moody vowed to fight any such effort all the way to the Supreme Court.

    "As I read my ethical responsibilities, I am forbidden ever to disclose clients' confidences and secrets," Moody said.

    Montanarelli's office would not comment on whether he would try to force Moody's testimony.

    The state prosecutor had subpoenaed any tapes of Lewinsky's voice in Moody's possession as part of an investigation into whether Tripp illegally recorded conversations with Lewinsky in which the former White House intern talked about her sexual relationship with President Clinton.

    Under Maryland law, the secret taping of the phone conversations would be illegal only if Tripp knew she was breaking the law.

    Moody said the questions he was asked before the grand jury involved the logistics of his representation of Tripp – whether she had ever given him Lewinsky tapes and, if so, what he did with them. He said that he could not answer the questions without Tripp's permission and that even being asked them was troubling.

    "It's very dangerous to the future clients out there in Maryland if their lawyer can be called before the grand jury and squeezed for information," he said.

    Also testifying before the grand jury yesterday was Kathleen Ann Manwiller, who lives across the street from Tripp in Columbia and had Tripp in her home at least once in January after the scandal became public. The subpoena issued to Manwiller ordered her to bring in any tapes Tripp might have given her.

    After Manwiller's grand jury appearance, her attorney, E. Alexander Adams, said that she had no tapes in her possession and that she had "done her duty and testified truthfully."

    When Tripp testified last summer before a grand jury as part of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigation of Clinton, she said she secretly recorded at least two conversations with Lewinsky in December 1997, after being warned that it was against the law.

    However, Tripp testified before the federal grand jury under a grant of immunity from prosecution that covered both her testimony and the tapes she gave Starr.

    Last month, New York literary agent Lucianne Goldberg gave Montanarelli a tape of several conversations between Tripp and Lewinsky. Goldberg said those conversations had taken place earlier, in October 1997, after she had assured Tripp that taping was legal.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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