Lewinsky's Lawyer: Tripp Wasn't Privy To Any Clinton Call
Former intern to visit dad in California; no immunity deal in sight
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 31) -- Monica Lewinsky's attorney has contradicted a claim by Linda Tripp that she overheard part of a late-night telephone conversation between the former White House intern and President Bill Clinton.
In an interview aired Friday night on ABC's "20/20," lawyer William Ginsburg said, "Based on my investigation of the entire situation, Ms. Tripp was never privy to any conversation that Monica Lewinsky ever had
with the president of the United States.
"Sometimes people don't always tell the truth, sometimes there
are exaggerations," Ginsburg told ABC. He said Tripp's statement "looks more like the pre-publicity for a book than it does like the truth."
Clinton has denied allegations that he had an affair with the former White House intern or urged her to lie about it. Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr has expanded his investigation to examine what happened.
In the ABC interview, Ginsburg -- while describing his client as "totally reliable" -- also disputed some key details that have emerged from conversations between Lewinsky and Tripp that Tripp secretly recorded.
Ginsburg denied a widely reported claim that Clinton gave Lewinsky a dress, and he said their conversations, far from amounting to "phone sex," did not contain sexual give-and-take.
Headed for California
Lewinsky is seeking immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony, but talks with Whitewater prosecutors appear stalled, with no deal in sight.
Ginsburg told CNN on Saturday that he and Lewinsky plan to leave Washington, D.C., next week, so she can visit her father in California.
"Monica needs to see her dad," Ginsburg said. "I am going to take Monica home this week to see her dad. Every young lady in time of stress wants to see her dad. I am going to continue to be involved in the case by telephone, fax, modem, pager."
On the immunity question, the attorney said there are no negotiations under way with Starr, but added, "My line is always open."
Ginsburg said Lewinsky does not plan to make any public statements.
"Monica has no intentions of going public in any way whatsoever -- news conference, interview or any other way in the immediate future," he said.
A friend of Tripp's, New York book agent Lucianne Goldberg, told The Associated Press Saturday that if the "serious trashing" of Tripp's integrity did not stop, she would release tapes of her own conversations with Tripp.
"Everybody will be sorry and surprised," said Goldberg, who also was the one to urge Tripp to tape her conversations with Lewinsky. "They leave no doubt about her veracity."
As he left for the office this morning, Starr said investigators were "moving forward trying to gather the facts," but would say no more.
"The grand jury has been sitting actively," Starr told CNN.
"It's very attentive. But beyond that, I can't comment."
Tripp, who recorded extensive conversations with Lewinsky about her alleged affair with Clinton, said she was present when Lewinsky got a late-night phone call from Clinton last November.
Tripp released a lengthy statement Friday through her attorney, James Moody, in an apparent effort to convince the public she had no political agenda in tape-recording the conversations with Lewinsky and turning them over to Starr.
Tripp contradicted characterizations of Lewinsky as obsessed with sex or the president, describing her as "a bright, caring, generous soul -- one who has made poor choices."
Moody said in an interview that Tripp had been staying overnight in the guest bedroom at Lewinsky's apartment in the Watergate complex when she was awakened by a ringing telephone.
"Linda did hear parts of" Lewinsky's side of "the conversation; I'm not going to characterize them, but the call lasted about 20 minutes," Moody said.
"After the phone call was over," Moody said, "the two women sat down together, Monica explained that it had been the president calling and the two women discussed the matter in detail."
More GOP criticism
Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) said if he faced similar allegations, "Dot Helms [his wife] would ... throw the rolling pin at me."
On CNN's "Evans & Novak," Helms said the controversy could hurt the office of the presidency. The longer Clinton "stays in office, if this turns out to be true, the more doubt people will have in the strength of the office," Helms said.
Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) called again for Clinton's impeachment, telling a gathering of conservatives in Arlington, Va., that Americans have a right to expect "decent moral behavior from our president."
Riding out the firestorm
Clinton is spending the weekend with daughter Chelsea and her friends at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland hills north of the capital. He even managed to get in some golf.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Switzerland for a conference,
made no mention of the controversy, but said life in the public eye isn't easy. "It's difficult to live in the spotlight of public life, and I miss many things about my private life," she said.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.