Tripp Received Death Threats After Lewinsky Controversy Broke
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 27) -- Death threats were made against Linda Tripp, the woman who says Monica Lewinsky told her of an affair with President Bill Clinton, when the scandal first broke last January, and Tripp was temporarily moved to a safe house.
"There were some threats made against her life. Based upon that, the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the direction of the independent counsel's office, decided to move [her] to a secure location," Tripp's lead attorney, Anthony Zaccagnini, told CNN's "Larry King Live" Tuesday night.
A government civil servant, Tripp set the Lewinsky tempest in motion by taking her taped conversations to Independent Counsel Ken Starr. Starr's grand jury is looking into reports that Clinton had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, a former White House intern, and encouraged her to lie about it under oath. Clinton has denied both accusations.
Zaccagnini predicted his client would appear before Starr's grand jury sometime in June.
The attorney would not comment on the existence of the reported 20 hours of recorded conversations with Lewinsky because Tripp faces possible prosecution for taping those calls. It is a felony in Maryland, where Tripp resides, to record conversations unless both people are aware.
But Tripp turned over any evidence she did had to Starr to protect herself, according to Zaccagnini. "Did she snitch? Absolutely not," he said. "What she did was obtain evidence to corroborate her version of the event."
When asked why Tripp betrayed her onetime friend, Zaccagnini said it was Lewinsky who put his client in an untenable position. "Listen, these disclosures that Monica Lewinsky either made or didn't make were made by Monica Lewinsky. That's a choice that she made. Linda Tripp did not go looking for this information.
"When she made that decision, and once she made the decision to put Linda in a situation where she would possibly have to lie under oath, the relationship at that point ceases to exist," he said. "Linda had to protect herself."
The attorney denied that Tripp tried to set up or goad Lewinsky into revealing more about the alleged affair.
Tripp does not deserve the negative public image she has gained as a result of this scandal, her lawyer said. He called Tripp "dedicated" to her two children and "serving the government."
"I think Linda recognizes the position that she's in forever jeopardizes her work and her job. She really doesn't have any expectation of ever being returned to her position at the Pentagon," Zaccagnini said. "She's still working but in a reduced capacity. In Linda's view, she has been demoted."
Tripp came to the White House during the Bush administration but was retained as an administrative secretary working in the counsel's office when Clinton took office in 1993. She moved to the Pentagon in August 1994, where she later became friends with Lewinsky.
He also said Tripp was "absolutely not" a right-winger out to get the Clintons. "She is an independent, a registered independent and has always voted her conscience," Zaccagnini said. "For her to say that she is either a Democrat or a Republican, she would be ill at ease with because she simply is not."
"This story is not about the left- wing or the right-wing. It's simply about doing the right thing."