Linda Tripp

Linda Rose Tripp (née Carotenuto; November 24, 1949 – April 8, 2020) was an American civil servant who played a prominent role in the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal of 1998. Tripp's action in secretly recording Monica Lewinsky's confidential phone calls about her relationship with President Bill Clinton caused a sensation with their links to the earlier Clinton v. Jones lawsuit and with the disclosing of intimate details. Tripp claimed that her motives were purely patriotic, and she was able to avoid a wiretap charge in exchange for handing in the tapes. She then claimed that her firing from the Pentagon at the end of the Clinton administration was vindictive, while the administration called it standard procedure for a political appointee. From 2004, Tripp and her husband, Dieter Rausch, owned and ran a year-round holiday store called The Christmas Sleigh in Middleburg, Virginia.

Linda Tripp
Linda Tripp.jpg
Linda Tripp, 1999.
Linda Rose Carotenuto

(1949-11-24)November 24, 1949
DiedApril 8, 2020(2020-04-08) (aged 70)
EducationHanover Park High School
OccupationCivil servant, small business owner
Known forWhistleblower in Clinton-Lewinsky scandal
Bruce M. Tripp
(m. 1971; div. 1990)

Dieter Rausch
(m. 2004)

Early life and careerEdit

Tripp was born Linda Rose Carotenuto in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Albert Carotenuto, a high school math and science teacher, and his wife, Inge, a German woman whom he met when he was an American soldier stationed in Germany. They divorced in 1968 after he had an affair with a fellow teacher. She graduated from Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, New Jersey in 1968 and then worked as a secretary in Army Intelligence at Fort Meade, Maryland. In 1971, she married Bruce Tripp, a military officer with whom she had a son and a daughter. They divorced in 1990.[1]

Tripp transferred to the Pentagon in 1987.[citation needed] She was a White House employee in the George H. W. Bush administration, and kept her job when Bill Clinton became president in 1993.[1] During the summer of 1994, senior White House aides wanted Tripp removed from the White House, so they arranged a job for her in the public affairs office in the Pentagon, which gave her a raise of $20,000 per year.[2]

Involvement in the Clinton–Lewinsky scandalEdit

Tripp became a close confidante of Monica Lewinsky, another former White House employee, while they both worked in the Pentagon's public affairs office.[1] According to Tripp, who was about 24 years older than Lewinsky, they knew one another for a year and a half before the scandal began to reach its critical stage. After Lewinsky revealed to Tripp that she had been in a physical relationship with President Clinton, Tripp, acting on the advice of literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, began to secretly record phone conversations with Lewinsky while encouraging Lewinsky to document details of her relationship with the president.[1]

In August 1997, Michael Isikoff from Newsweek reported that Tripp said that she had encountered Kathleen Willey coming out of the Oval Office "disheveled", that "her face red and her lipstick was off." Willey alleged that Clinton groped her. Clinton's lawyer Robert S. Bennett said in the Newsweek article "Linda Tripp is not to be believed."[3]

In January 1998, Tripp gave the tapes to independent counsel Kenneth Starr in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Tripp disclosed to Starr that she was aware of the relationship between Lewinsky and Clinton, that Lewinsky had submitted a false affidavit denying the relationship to the federal court in Arkansas in the Clinton v. Jones lawsuit, and that Lewinsky had attempted to suborn Tripp's perjury in that suit to conceal what she knew of the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship and of Kathleen Willey from the federal court. As Tripp explained, she was being solicited to commit a crime to conceal evidence in the Jones civil rights case.[4] Jones’ lawsuit, initially filed in April 1994 through her attorneys Joseph Cammarata and Gilbert K. Davis, eventually resulted in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Clinton v. Jones which held that a sitting president of the United States does not have immunity against civil lawsuits for acts done before taking office, and unrelated to the office.[5][6]

Tripp also informed Starr of the existence of a navy blue dress that Lewinsky owned that was soiled with Clinton's semen. During their friendship, Lewinsky had shown the dress to Tripp and said she intended to have it dry-cleaned; Tripp convinced her not to have it cleaned.[7]

Based on Tripp's tapes, Starr obtained approval from Attorney General Janet Reno and the special court overseeing the independent counsel to expand Starr's investigation into the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship, looking for potential incidents of perjury, to investigate Lewinsky for perjury and suborning perjury as a witness in the lawsuit Paula Jones had brought against Clinton.[8]

Tripp also told Starr that she had evidence directly linking the White House to the Travelgate, Filegate, and Chinagate affairs, but Starr chose not to act on that, preferring to pursue the sex-related allegations.[citation needed]

Tripp maintained that she acted out of "patriotic duty." Tripp also claimed that she taped Lewinsky out of self-defense because she feared retaliation from the Clinton administration, also claiming Lewinsky had assured President Clinton that she had told only Tripp about their affair (which was untrue), thus making her a target since she refused to go along with perjuring herself to protect Lewinsky and the president.[citation needed]

Eventually both Clinton and Lewinsky had to appear before a grand jury to answer questions, but Clinton appeared via closed circuit television. At the conclusion of Lewinsky's interrogation, the jurors offered Lewinsky the chance to offer any last words. "I hate Linda Tripp," she said.[9]

Indictment by the state of MarylandEdit

Tripp was a resident of Hickory Ridge, Columbia, Maryland, at the time she made her surreptitious recordings of the conversations with Lewinsky, and 49 Democrats in the Maryland Legislature signed a letter to the state prosecutor demanding that Tripp be prosecuted under Maryland's wiretap law.[10] Before the trial, the state court ruled that, because of the immunity agreements which the independent counsel's office entered into with Tripp, Lewinsky, and others, a substantial amount of the evidence which the prosecution intended to use was inadmissible.[11]

At a pre-trial hearing, the prosecution called Lewinsky as a witness to try to establish her testimony against Tripp was untainted by the independent counsel's investigation. However, the Maryland state court ruled Lewinsky, who "admitted that she lied under oath in a federal proceeding and has stated that lying has been a part of her life," was not credible and Lewinsky's proposed testimony against Tripp was "bathed in impermissible taint." As a result, all charges against Tripp were dismissed on May 26, 2000 when the prosecution decided not to proceed with the trial of the case.[12]

Arrest record controversyEdit

Tripp had been arrested in 1969 when she was 19 years old in Greenwood Lake, New York on charges of stealing $263 in cash as well as a wristwatch worth about $600. The charges were dismissed before coming to trial.[13] Years later, Tripp answered "no" to the question "Have you ever been either charged or arrested for a crime?" on her form for a United States Department of Defense security clearance.[14] In March 1998, shortly before Tripp was scheduled to appear before the grand jury in the Lewinsky investigation, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Kenneth Bacon and his deputy Clifford Bernath leaked how Tripp had answered that question to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. The Department of Defense then leaked other confidential information from Tripp's personnel and security files to the news media. The Department of Defense inspector general investigated these leaks and found that Bacon and Bernath violated the Privacy Act of 1974, and the United States Department of Defense inspector general concluded both Bacon and Bernath should have known the release of information from Tripp's security file was improper.[15]

Termination from government employmentEdit

On January 19, 2001, the last full day of the Clinton Administration, Tripp was fired from her job in the Pentagon.[16] Tripp claimed that the firing was vindictive, but the Clinton administration said that all political appointees such as Tripp are normally asked to submit their resignation when a new administration takes over.[17][failed verification] Those who refuse to do so may be fired.[citation needed]

Lawsuit and settlementEdit

Tripp sued the Department of Defense and the Justice Department for releasing information from her security file and employment file to the news media in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. On November 3, 2003, Tripp reached a settlement with the federal government.[18] The settlement included a one-time payment of more than $595,000, a retroactive promotion, and retroactive pay at the highest salary for 1998, 1999, and 2000. She also received a pension and was cleared to work for the federal government again. Her rights to remain part of a class action against the government were preserved.[19]

Later yearsEdit

Tripp married German architect Dieter Rausch in 2004.[1] They lived in Middleburg, Virginia, where they owned and operated a German winter-themed holiday store called the Christmas Sleigh.[20]

In an appearance with Larry King on Larry King Live on December 1, 2003, Tripp talked about living with breast cancer. On the subject of her successful invasion of privacy lawsuit against the federal government, Tripp claimed that she actually came out behind financially because of attorneys' fees and the derailment of her government career. She also claimed that her violations of Lewinsky's privacy and the Clinton administration's violations of her privacy were not equivalent as the Clinton administration's leaking of her employment history was illegal, noting that although her wiretapping was also illegal, she was able to avoid prosecution for such by accepting immunity in exchange for her testimony.[19]

In 2018, Tripp said that "she was the victim of 'a real high-tech lynching.'"[21]

Tripp died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 70 on April 8, 2020.[22][23]

In popular cultureEdit

Tripp was portrayed by John Goodman in recurring Saturday Night Live sketches. Tripp had mixed feelings about the impression, saying she enjoyed most of the sketches, but mentioning that at least one had hurt her feelings.[4]

In the television series Impeachment: American Crime Story, slated to air in late 2020, Tripp will be portrayed by Sarah Paulson.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e Gates, Anita; Seelye, Katharine Q. (April 8, 2020). "Linda Tripp, Key Figure in Clinton Impeachment, Dies". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Goldstein, Amy; Sanchez, Rene (February 7, 1998). "Tripp's Curious Path to the Pentagon". The Washington Post. p. A12. Retrieved October 9, 2007.
  3. ^ Isikoff, Michael; Thomas, Evan (February 2, 1998). "Clinton and the Intern". Newsweek. Retrieved October 9, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Transcript: Linda Tripp on 'Larry King Live', CNN, February 16, 1999. Accessed October 9, 2007.
  5. ^ "Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997)". Justia Law.
  6. ^ "Jones v. Clinton, 858 F. Supp. 902 (E.D. Ark. 1994)". Justia Law.
  7. ^ "Lewinsky: Tripp Vetoed Dry Cleaner". CBS News. September 21, 1998. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  8. ^ "Text of Reno's Petition for Starr". The Washington Post. January 29, 1998. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  9. ^ Jackson, Brooks (September 22, 1998). "What goes around comes around? Tripp's under investigation". CNN. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  10. ^ Schmidt, Susan; Valentine, Paul W. (July 23, 1998). "Grand Jury Hears Currie; Official Defends Tripp Probe". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  11. ^ Bloom, Robert M. (2002). Ratting: The Use and Abuse of Informants in the American Justice System. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 25. ISBN 9780275968182. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  12. ^ Lewis, Neil A. (May 6, 2000). "Judge Allows Maryland To Proceed in Tripp Case". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  13. ^ "Report: Tripp Didn't Disclose Arrest On Pentagon Job Form". CNN. March 14, 1998. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  14. ^ "Tripp: No Stranger to Controversy". CNN. June 29, 1998. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  15. ^ Becker, Elizabeth (May 26, 2000). "2 Officials Rebuked for Tripp Disclosures". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2007.
  16. ^ "Linda Tripp, like many others, loses federal job". CNN. January 19, 2001. Archived from the original on December 7, 2004. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  17. ^ "U.S. ambassadors appointed by Obama must quit by Inauguration Day". Reuters. January 6, 2017. Retrieved November 15, 2017. ... leave the government on schedule, just as thousands of political aides at the White House and in federal agencies must do.
  18. ^ McDonough, Siobhan (November 3, 2003). "Defense Department settles with Linda Tripp". Associated Press. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "CNN Larry King Live Interview With Linda Tripp". CNN. December 1, 2003.
  20. ^ "Christmas Sleigh". Middleburg Life. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  21. ^ Andrews-Dyer, Helena (July 30, 2018). "Linda Tripp says she was the victim of 'a real high-tech lynching' in first public address since 2000". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ Moore, Mark; Nelson, Steven (April 8, 2020). "Linda Tripp, whistleblower in Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal, dead at 70". New York Post.
  23. ^ Darnell, Tim (April 8, 2020). "BREAKING: Linda Tripp, whistleblower in Clinton sex scandal, dead at 70 from cancer". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  24. ^ Desta, Yohana (January 20, 2020). "The American Crime Story: Impeachment Cast and Their Real-Life Counterparts". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 9, 2020.

Further readingEdit

  • Scott P. Johnson. "Linda Tripp (Biography)". Trials of the Century: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture and the Law, Volume 1 (ABC-CLIO 2010). pp. 654–655.

External linksEdit