Linda Tripp, accompanied by her son Ryan Tripp, arrives at federal court in Washington July 7, 1998.
Linda Tripp, whose secretly taped conversations with Monica Lewinsky played a crucial role in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998, died Wednesday. She was 70.
Her death was confirmed to the New York Post by her son-in-law, Thomas Foley. He said her illness was not related to the coronavirus.
“I know all the press will focus on the other stuff but she was a special person and a fantastic grandparent who was devoted to her family,” Foley told the newspaper. “People forget this part.”
Her daughter, Allison Tripp Foley, had posted on Facebook Tuesday night that Tripp “is leaving this earth.”
“I don’t know myself if I can survive this heartache,” she wrote in a post that was subsequently made private. “Please pray for a painless process for the strongest woman I will ever know in my entire lifetime.”
Tripp was a civil servant who shot to international notoriety due to her role in the Clinton impeachment saga. She became friends with Lewinsky after the White House intern was reassigned to the Pentagon amid concerns that rumors of her inappropriate relationship with Clinton would hurt his reelection.
Then in her early 20s, Lewinsky was increasingly unhappy with the state of her relationship with the president. She confided in Tripp, who recorded their phone calls without Lewinsky’s knowledge on the advice of a literary agent.
Later, Tripp handed the tapes to Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel investigating members of the Clinton administration, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Starr used the tapes as evidence that Clinton had committed perjury by lying under oath about his relationship with Lewinsky.
Tripp has maintained that she exposed the recordings to hold Clinton accountable. In 1999, she told the New York Times that she remains “as fond of” Lewinsky as ever. “I wish her nothing but the best,” she said.
Speaking to Slate’s Slow Burn podcast in 2018, Tripp said Clinton deserved to be exposed.
“What I did do was make a conscious choice to say this is unacceptable, completely unacceptable for anyone, let alone the leader of the free world in the Oval Office,” she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, as news of her impending death circulated, Lewinsky tweeted, “no matter the past…i hope for her recovery. i can’t imagine how difficult this is for her family.”
Following the scandal and her firing from the Clinton administration in 2001, Tripp retreated from the public eye to her home and family in Virginia where she ran a Christmas-themed shop with her husband, Dieter Rausch.
She will be played by Sarah Paulson in an upcoming season of FX’s American Crime Story that will cover the Clinton impeachment.
Tripp is survived by her husband and her children, Ryan and Allison.
- The New Season Of “American Crime Story” Will Tackle The Clinton–Lewinsky ScandalAdam B. Vary · Aug. 7, 2019
- Hillary Clinton Said That Bill’s Affair With An Intern In Her Twenties Wasn’t An Abuse Of PowerRemy Smidt · Oct. 15, 2018
Clarissa-Jan Lim is a reporter and editor at BuzzFeed News. She is based in New York.
Contact Clarissa-Jan Lim at [email protected]
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