Linda Tripp is a former civil servant who worked at the Pentagon during the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal. Her secret recordings of her conversations with Monica Lewinsky led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998.
Who Is Linda Tripp?
Linda Rose Tripp (née Carotenuto) (November 24, 1949) worked in the U.S. Pentagon's public affairs office during the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal. Often described as the “whistleblower,” Tripp’s clandestine wiretap recordings of her conversations with Lewinsky contributed to Clinton’s impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998.
In 1998 allegations regarding a sexual relationship between 49-year-old (then) President Bill Clinton and 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky erupted in various media outlets. Lewinsky’s coworker, friend, and confidante, Linda Tripp, knew about the affair and began to surreptitiously tape record her own phone conversations with Lewinsky in September 1997 amassing copious amounts of evidence to reveal the salacious details. In January 1998, she handed over the tapes to the attorneys in the then active Paula Jones sexual harassment Supreme Court case against Clinton, Jones v. Clinton, as well as to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in exchange for immunity from prosecution for her participation in illegal wiretapping. Tripp also told Starr about another piece of key evidence: Lewinsky’s semen-stained navy blue dress that Tripp convinced Lewinsky not to have dry-cleaned.
Based on Tripp's tapes, Starr obtained approval from Attorney General Janet Reno to expand his investigation. Informed by evidence from Linda Tripp, Kenneth Starr’s books, The Starr Report: The Independent Counsel’s Complete Report to the Congress on the Investigation of Bill Clinton (1998) and The Starr Evidence: The Complete Text of the Grand Jury Testimony of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky (1998) provided compelling support for perjury charges against Clinton and Lewinsky who denied their affair. President Bill Clinton was impeached in December 1998 by the U.S. House of Representatives but was acquitted by the Senate in 1999. In her testimony to the jury, a tearful and betrayed Lewinsky stated her last words to the court, “I hate Linda Tripp.”
When Clinton took office in 1992, Tripp was insulted by what she perceived to be a climate of sexual harassment in the White House. She believed that Clinton was a sexual predator with "libidinous impulses.” In a 2017 interview, Tripp indicated that “the housekeeping staff was afraid to bend over in his presence.” Tripp also supported claims by Kathleen Whilley, the White House volunteer who confided in Tripp that Clinton had groped her in 1993. After moving to a public-affairs job in the Pentagon in 1994, Tripp met Lewinsky who also confided in Tripp about her sexual relationship with Clinton. Tripp was disgusted by Bill Clinton’s improprieties and wanted to reveal his transgressions to the world. She began amassing evidence via wiretaps with the intention of writing a tell-all memoir with the planned title, Behind Closed Doors: What I Saw Inside the Clinton White House, and a proposed chapter titled, "The President's Women.” Her pension for “whistleblowing” came to a helm when she provided vital evidence to support Clinton’s impeachment.
The Character Assassination Lawsuit
Due to her label as the “whistleblower” in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, many blamed Tripp for smearing Clinton’s name and legacy. Tripp was under intense scrutiny and confidential information from her personnel files, F.B.I. files, security files and other government records made its way into the media. Tripp indicated that the information leak to the media was intended to spread ''embarrassing or damaging information for partisan political purposes.” Tripp filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense and the Justice Department for releasing her information in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974 and sought restitution for “harm to reputation and emotional distress and humiliation.'' The government settled and awarded her a one-time payment of more than half a million dollars, a retroactive promotion, retroactive pay at the highest salary for 1998, 1999, and 2000, and a pension.
Early Life, Education, and Career
Linda Rose Carotenuto was born on November 24, 1949 into a middle-class family in North Caldwell, New Jersey. Her father, Albert, was a high school science and math teacher and her German mother, Inge, tended to Linda and her sister. In 1967, her womanizing father deserted the family. Linda took the divorce very hard becoming obsessive about the sanctities of marriage. After graduating from high school, Linda attended the Katherine Gibbs secretarial school in Montclair and later became a secretary at a Morristown hotel. She met and married her very first boyfriend, Bruce Tripp, in a Roman Catholic ceremony in 1971. Bruce was an Army training officer (he is now a retired colonel) and Linda was a dutiful military wife. Linda was a model military employee and worked her way up to a top security clearance. The couple had two children together, Ryan and Allison. The Army family lived in the Netherlands, Germany, Fort Meade in Maryland and at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The couple separated in 1990 and Tripp began working in Washington, D.C.
Tripp worked as a White House aide from 1990 to 1994 and was transferred to the Pentagon’s Office of Public Affairs where she worked from 1994 to 2001. Tripp was fired from her Pentagon job on January 19, 2001, the last full day of the Clinton Administration. Tripp believed she was fired in retaliation for her whistleblowing efforts that led to Clinton’s impeachment. Her claims were not supported.
After more than 20 years of silence, Tripp has recently emerged as an outspoken opponent of the Clintons. Especially during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Tripp repeatedly described Hillary as a key leader in White House efforts to cover up allegations of Bill’s involvement in sexual harassment. Tripp has also stated that the recently publicized assault allegations of powerful men, including Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore have caused her to "relive a lot of it." A breast cancer survivor, Tripp and her second husband, German architect Dieter Rausch (married in 2004), now live in rural Virginia and own and operate a retail store, The Christmas Sleigh, selling German holiday ornaments and trinkets.