Linda Tripp.—Reuters
Linda Tripp.—Reuters

WASHINGTON: Linda Tripp, whose secretly taped conversations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky provided evidence of an affair with President Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment, died on Wednesday. She was 70.

Tripp’s death was confirmed by attorney Joseph Murtha, but he provided no details. She had been treated for breast cancer in 2001.

Tripp was a 48-year-old divorced mother of two living in Columbia, Maryland, when she became a controversial national figure as the Clinton impeachment investigation unfolded in 1998. For some she was a heroine who stood up for the rule of law; for others, she was a schemer for profit who betrayed a friend while posing as a motherly confidant.

As news broke that Tripp was near death, Lewinsky tweeted: “no matter the past, upon hearing that linda tripp is very seriously ill, i hope for her recovery. i cant imagine how difficult this is for her family.”

Lewinsky was 22 when she worked as a White House intern in summer 1995.

That November she and Clinton began their affair, which continued after she was hired for a West Wing job. Reassigned to the Pentagon in April 1996, Lewinsky met Tripp and they became friends.

Tripp provided nearly 20 hours of recorded conversations with Lewinsky to special counsel Ken Starr, who had been investigating a potpourri of allegations against the president since his appointment in 1994. His blockbuster report, which included a graphic account of the sex scandal, became a bestseller.

At the time of the scandal Tripp had been a career civil service employee, and since 1994 she had worked for the Pentagon arranging tours of US military bases for select civilians. Before that she had spent a year working on Clinton’s transition team and had been a confidential assistant in the office of the White House counsel in George H.W. Bush’s adminis­tration.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020

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