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Prosecutors First Interview With Tripp

Friday, October 2, 1998

Following is the investigator's report summarizing the first interview with Linda Tripp after she contacted Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's office on Jan. 12, 1998:

Linda R. Tripp was contacted at her residence in (BLACKED OUT) by prior arrangement with Deputy Independent Counsel Jack Bennett. Tripp had initiated contact with the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) earlier in the evening by telephoning Bennett, at first refusing to provide her name. Also present with Bennett were Associate Independent Counsels Sol Wisenberg and Steve Binhak. Beginning at approximately 11:45 p.m., Tripp provided the following information:

Tripp has been subpoenaed by an attorney for Paula Jones, a woman pursuing a civil action against President Bill Clinton, apparently due to published statements attributed to Tripp concerning Kathy Willey. It has been reported in the media that President Clinton engaged in certain behavior toward Willey, and the Paula Jones attorneys are apparently seeking information concerning the alleged incident.

Tripp did not seek out magazine to provide information concerning Kathy Willey. Newsweek reporter Mike Isikoff contacted Tripp. Tripp attempted to warn the White House of Isikoff's interest and placed a telephone call to Bruce Lindsey's office. Tripp also paged Lindsey and sent an e-mail message. Neither Lindsey nor anyone else from the White House responded to her.

Some later time after Isikoff initially approached Tripp, she told him she believed President Clinton did not harass Willey during the episode mentioned in the Newsweek article. Tripp felt Willey had been seeking a relationship with President Clinton for several months prior to the episode in question. However, Isikoff apparently interviewed attorney Bob Bennett (who represents President Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit) and represented to Bennett that Tripp confirmed unwanted attentions were directed toward Willey by the President during that encounter. As an apparent result, Bennett made derogatory comments about Tripp to Isikoff which were published in the Newsweek article. Tripp feels Bennett trashed Tripp's name.

According to Tripp, Bennett's published comments convinced her she needed to do something to protect herself from future attacks. Tripp advised she is intimidated by Bennett and fears him because of his no holds barred approach in attacking persons whose testimony conflicts with that of his clients. In addition to forming her opinion from public information, Tripp was once on Air Force One when Bennett was also present, and she got a very bad feeling about him. Tripp believed that Bennett and the White House would try to destroy her based on what she had seen them do to other people who got in their way. That belief ultimately motivated Tripp to begin tape recording telephone conversations Tripp had with Monica Lewinsky. Tripp felt the tapes would give her protection because they would demonstrate that Tripp was not a liar. Tripp expressed concern Lewinsky is being abused by Bennett and President Clinton, and noted Lewinsky is young and the others involved are powerful persons.

The Paula Jones group has also subpoenaed Monica Lewinsky. Tripp believes Lewinsky has had a sexual relationship with President Clinton. Lewinsky has spoken of the relationship with Tripp and others, and Lewinsky has also utilized the e-mail system at the Pentagon in a manner that has given additional credence to Lewinsky's claimed relationship with President Clinton. Lewinsky said she sent notes to President Clinton at the White House via courier service.

Tripp had never received any telephone calls from the White House since ``Whitewater'' began until after Lewinsky advised President Clinton the Paula Jones group had subpoenaed Lewinsky to testify in the matter. After that occurred, Lindsey telephoned Tripp. Lewinsky was a White House employee until approximately April 1996. Lewinsky worked as an assistant for legislative affairs while at the White House. Tripp is acquainted with Lewinsky due to Tripp's own past employment at the White House. In approximately April 1996, Lewinsky was moved from her job at the White House to a job at the Pentagon, where her supervisor was Ken Bacon. Lewinsky was recently offered a job at the United Nations (UN) by U.S. Ambassador to the UN, (last name Richardson), but declined it. Vernon Jordan subsequently arranged for Lewinsky to be considered for employment in a public relations capacity by three different companies in New York, N.Y. Tripp understands that Lewinsky is currently in New York, looking for housing and intends to accept employment at one of the companies arranged by Jordan.

Lewinsky has said Walter Kaye got Lewinsky her job at the White House. Lewinsky told Tripp that Kaye has had a 12-year affair with Lewinsky's aunt. Lewinsky described Kaye as being close to Hillary Clinton and he supposedly pays for all Hillary Clinton's parties. Kaye is the person who discovered a loophole in an insurance policy that allowed President Clinton to receive attorney fee payments associated with the Paula Jones lawsuit. Lewinsky's mother lives in New York part of the time. According to Lewinsky, her mother is a kept woman and stays on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Lewinsky has advised Tripp that Lewinsky met with Vernon Jordan twice in relation to the Paula Jones case and has spoken to him on the telephone. Her first meeting with Jordan related to Jordan assisting Lewinsky in finding a job.

Jordan wants Lewinsky to communicate with President Clinton through Betty Currie, the president's secretary. After Lewinsky received a subpoena from the Paula Jones attorneys, she met Jordan for the second time. Lewinsky also spoke to Currie about the subpoena. Jordan gave Lewinsky a ride in his limousine to the office of attorney Frank Carter, whom Jordan described to Lewinsky as Jordan's personal attorney and friend. Lewinsky told Tripp that, while in the limousine, Lewinsky asked Jordan a question to the effect, ``What am I supposed to do, tell the truth?'' Jordan allegedly replied, ``No.'' Lewinsky then asked words to the effect, ``What should I do?'', to which Jordan answered words to the effect, ``What choice do you have?''

Tripp tape recorded a conversation she had with Lewinsky in which Lewinsky stated that Vernon Jordan encouraged Lewinsky to lie to the Paula Jones attorneys when questioned about Lewinsky's relationship with President Clinton. Lewinsky claims to be close to Currie, President Clinton's personal secretary and believes as long as everyone with knowledge of Lewinsky's relationship with President Clinton lies things will be OK.

Lewinsky told Tripp she will not comply with the subpoena from the Paula Jones attorneys for physical evidence. Lewinsky has mentioned receiving from President Clinton: a dress he purchased for her while at Martha's Vineyard; a hatpin; a picture of Lewinsky with President Clinton in the Oval Office at the White House, in which Lewinsky is wearing a navy blue dress. Lewinsky claims one sexual encounter she had with President Clinton in the Oval Office resulted in the navy blue dress being stained with his semen. Tripp said Lewinsky won't have the dress dry cleaned to this day.

Lewinsky has asked Tripp to meet with her tomorrow. Lewinsky prefers to meet Tripp in person to discuss the Paula Jones matter and has voiced concerns that her telephones are tapped. Her fear of tapped telephones is the result of the degree of detail contained in the subpoena Lewinsky received from the Paula Jones attorneys, specifically the mention of a hatpin President Clinton gave her. Lewinsky believes the information may have come from telephone taps but has said the information is inadmissible for court purposes.

Beginning around Christmas/New Year's 1997, Lewinsky stopped making as many telephone calls to Tripp. Tripp presumed Lewinsky's change in telephone usage was due to Lewinsky's self-described fear of using telephones. Lewinsky recently told Tripp that Lewinsky had to visit a hospital emergency room because of being nervous that Tripp will not lie when answering questions in the Paula Jones matter (BLACKED OUT) Lewinsky suggested Tripp should lie about knowing Lewinsky has claimed to have had a sexual relationship with President Clinton. Under one Lewinsky scenario, Lewinsky suggested that Lewinsky would claim to have been hallucinating about her relationship with President Clinton if Tripp revealed it and then Tripp might have to be concerned about perjury charges against Tripp.

Lewinsky also voiced her belief that Tripp was in danger of losing her job if she testified truthfully against the interest of President Clinton. Lewinsky told Tripp that President Clinton, in discussing Lewinsky's testimony in the Paula Jones case, told Lewinsky to deny, deny, deny. Lewinsky said if two people in the same room both deny something occurred in the room, the presence of circumstantial evidence is not enough to prove the event occurred.

Tripp has told Lewinsky that Tripp could arrange to be out of town to avoid providing testimony to the Paula Jones attorneys. Tripp fears retaliation from President Clinton and Hillary Clinton if Tripp tells the truth. Lewinsky said in a recorded conversation that Lewinsky believes President Clinton is in denial about the Paula Jones case because he has always been able to talk his way out of trouble. Lewinsky told Tripp she told President Clinton that Lewinsky has not told Tripp about their relationship. Lewinsky fears Tripp's truthful testimony because President Clinton will know Lewinsky betrayed his trust.

Tripp has utilized attorney Kirby Behre for previous matters relating to Whitewater and her employment at the White House. Behre is aware Tripp tape-recorded a number of telephone conversations Tripp had with Lewinsky. Behre advised Tripp to not record any further conversations without his direction, and that they could meet today to discuss her desire to record another conversation.

Tripp met Behre today and brought the latest tape recording of Tripp and Lewinsky. Tripp and Behre listened to the recording and Behre ``had a fit'' because Tripp made the recording without Behre's direction. Tripp advised this particular tape is the most damaging of those she made because it contains the following dialogue (paraphrased):

TRIPP: I'm going to tell the truth ... you're going to lie.

LEWINSKY: If I lie and he lies and you lie, no one has to know.

The ``he'' referred to by Lewinsky is President Clinton, and the alleged lies refer to denials to be made to Paula Jones' attorneys. Lewinsky also mentioned Vernon Jordan on the recording.

When Tripp today spoke to Behre, he said he planned to discuss the recordings with a senior partner. Behre telephoned Tripp at her residence this evening and told Tripp she had placed Behre in jeopardy by her actions. Behre advised Tripp to not tape record an upcoming meeting with Lewinsky, and Tripp told him she would not. Tripp originally asked Behre for assistance in making the recording of the face-to-face meeting, and Behre said he had a private investigator is currently in Boston because the investigator's brother died. Tripp is skeptical of Behre's story and has wondered if Behre is more concerned about not making Bob Bennett, President Clinton, and his fellow attorneys angry than he is about helping Tripp protect herself.

Tripp very recently consulted with a second attorney because of her discomfort with Behre. Tripp's second lawyer is Jim Moody, who was recommended to her by another person. Moody offered to be co-counsel with Behre since Tripp was becoming concerned whether Behre is solely concerned with Tripp's welfare. Tripp discussed wanting to discuss tapre recording a face-to-face meeting with Lewinsky since Lewinsky is now reluctant to say much on the telephone, and Moody advised he can probably locate someone with previous experience in surveillance methods to assist her if necessary.

Lewinsky has asked Tripp to meet her tomorrow and talk to Tripp about changing her mind and agreeing to lie in the Paula Jones case. Tripp plans to meet Lewinsky at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, either in the piano bar area or the back dining room.

Tripp advised her attorney, Behre, has approximately 20 tapes of conversations between Tripp and Lewinsky that were recorded by Lewinsky. Tripp and OIC attorneys discussed Tripp's concern over her own immunity from prosecution by Maryland state authorities. Tripp advised she did not realize recording her own telephone conversations with Lewinsky was a violation of state law at the time she did it, and that she was just trying to protect herself from the eventuality that Lewinsky would lie and Tripp would be attacked for telling the truth. Tripp expressed a reluctance to record any further conversations with Lewinsky at the direction of the OIC, but was assured recordings made at the direction of federal prosecutors were not barred by state law. OIC attorneys explained the OIC could not provide immunity from the state of Maryland should it choose to pursue charges related to the taping, but advised Tripp she would be granted federal immunity by the OIC for the act of producing the tapes to the OIC.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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