Linda Tripp, whose taped conversations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky resulted in the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton, died Wednesday morning of pancreatic cancer. She was 70 years old. Lewinsky took to Twitter after reports earlier in the day that Tripp was on her deathbed. “No matter the past, upon hearing that Linda Tripp is very seriously ill, I hope for her recovery,” Lewinsky tweeted. “I can’t imagine how difficult this is for her family.”
Lewinsky and Tripp met while working together in the public affairs office. Lewinsky, who felt she needed someone to confide in about her relationship with Clinton, turned to Tripp, who was more than 20 years her senior. “I felt so deflated, and so desperate,” Lewinsky said in 2018’s The Clinton Affair. “And those were the conditions, along with some other things, that led to me confiding in Linda Tripp.”
Tripp encouraged Lewinsky to document her affair and began secretly recording their conversations, which she eventually turned over to independent counsel Kenneth Starr for his investigation, in exchange for immunity against wiretapping charges.
It was Tripp who also suggested Lewinsky shouldn’t have the infamous, semen-stained blue dress dry cleaned, a detail she gave Starr during his investigation. “It could be your only insurance policy down the road,” Tripp told Lewinsky. “Or it could never be needed and you can throw it away. But I, I never, ever want to read about you going off the deep end because someone comes out and calls you a stalker or something and you have, and he confirms it.”
The then-23-year-old Lewinsky said she felt betrayed when Tripp, the whistleblower on Clinton’s sexual assault allegations, turned her in. Now, Lewinsky is setting aside history and mourning the loss of her former friend.
no matter the past, upon hearing that linda tripp is very seriously ill, i hope for her recovery. i can’t imagine how difficult this is for her family.
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) April 8, 2020
In 2018, Tripp sat down with Slate’s Slow Burn podcast, being interviewed extensively about her role in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal (Lewinsky did not participate in the podcast). In it, Tripp explains how she viewed Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky as an abuse of power — a conclusion Lewinsky eventually came to herself, though it would take her years to get there.
“How it was presented to the country initially is how it continues to be referred to today, which is an affair, the Lewinsky affair. But by virtue of using that word, one assumes it was in some way an actual relationship of sorts—romantic, physical, whatever, it was a relationship—which couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Tripp said on the podcast. “What it was was a series of encounters to address a physical need, a use of a young girl, and then the sort of cold, hard dismissal of her on any human level.”
Tripp has said her only regret about telling Starr about Lewinsky’s relationship with Clinton was “not having to guts to do it sooner.”
Tripp began working at the White House under President George H.W. Bush and was retained as part of Clinton’s staff before she moved to the Pentagon. She is survived by her family, and her daughter notified the public of her condition on Tuesday in a Facebook post where she wrote, “My mommy is leaving this earth. I don’t know myself if I can survive this heartache. Please pray for a painless process for the strongest woman I will ever know in my entire lifetime.”
According to a Daily Mail report that revealed Tripp’s death, her husband and daughter where by her side in the ICU at the time of her passing. Her family said that they will not be hosting a funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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