WASHINGTON – Former civil servant turned whistleblower Linda Tripp said she has no regrets about helping to expose an affair President Bill Clinton had with White House intern Monica Lewinsky 20 years ago.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would,” Tripp said at an event on Capitol Hill hosted by the National Whistleblower Center on Monday. “I will say I simply could not have lived with myself had I failed to act.”
Tripp worked in the White House during the administration of President George H.W. Bush (1989-93) and stayed on for the first year-and-a-half of the Clinton administration.
Tripp was dismissed from the White House in the summer of 1994. She was transferred to the Pentagon’s office of public affairs. Tripp became acquainted with Lewinsky after the intern was transferred to the Pentagon from the White House in April 1996.
Tripp recorded phone conversations in which Lewinsky revealed that she had had a sexual relationship with Clinton. Publicist Lucianne Goldberg advised Tripp to record the conversations.
Tripp gave the recordings to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in January 1998. Starr was then investigating the Clintons’ financial dealings as part of the Whitewater investigation.
The Office of Independent Counsel granted Tripp immunity from prosecution in exchange for the tapes. Tripp was then a Maryland resident; under Maryland law, two-party consent is required to record conversations.
Tripp was indicted under Maryland’s wiretapping law but the charges were thrown out because of her agreement with the Office of Independent Counsel and because a state court ruled against allowing Lewinsky to testify in the case.
Clinton denied the Lewinsky affair during testimony in a sexual harassment deposition. Former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones sued Clinton for having allegedly exposed himself to her in a hotel room in 1991. Clinton was then governor of Arkansas.
Clinton reiterated his denial of the Lewinsky affair in January 1998 shortly after news of the scandal broke.
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” Clinton said at a White House news conference. Clinton later conceded that he had lied.
Clinton was impeached by the Republican-led House of Representatives in December 1998. He was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate in January 1999.
Tripp has said the Department of Defense retaliated against her decision to blow the whistle on Clinton by leaking defamatory information from her security clearance file.
The Senate approved a resolution earlier this month that declares July 30 National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.