Linda Tripp, the whistleblower in the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, whose evidence played an important role in the impeachment of Clinton in 1998, has died at the age of 70. Her death was confirmed by her son Ryan Tripp. Her mother Inge Carotenuto and her former attorney Joseph Murtha have also confirmed the former White House employee's death.
The cause of her death has not been revealed. However, reports suggest that Tripp had been battling cancer. "She fought on as hard as she could. We just have to let all the grandkids know as it was so sudden," Thomas Foley, her son-in-law, told the New York Post.
Brought a president down
Tripp had served as a White House secretary during President George H.W. Bush's tenure and continued to stay in the job in the first two years of the Clinton's administration in 1993 and 1994. She was later transferred to the Pentagon. Following this, she struck friendship with Lewinsky, a former intern at the White House. Lewinsky confided in Tripp about the sexual relationship that she had with Clinton while he was in office. At the time of the affair, Lewinsky was a 22-year-old White House intern during the summer of 1995.
As the duo began discussing the relationship and other intimate details, Tripp began recording their conversations. This helped her to gather audio recordings running into hours, which served as incriminating evidence of the relationship. She turned over the evidence to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who was already investigating possible financial irregularities within the administration. Starr shifted his investigation's focus solely to the affair, resulting in the convening of a grand jury.
During her testimony to the grand jury, Tripp had averred that she had been disturbed by the then president's attitude towards women while she worked at the White House. "I had a vast font of knowledge and exposure to things that went on in this White House that I found appalling," she had testified.
As an aftermath of the investigation, Clinton was charged with obstruction of justice, and also lying under oath about his affair with Lewinsky. He was impeached by the House in December 1998. However, he was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.
A divisive figure
While some hailed Tripp as a hero for exposing the president's sexual misdeeds against interns she was also criticized for manipulating Lewinsky and misusing the trust she had placed in Tripp. Appearing on the podcast "Slow Burn" in 2018, Tripp recounted: "This was flying by the seat of my pants, terrified, out of my wits, completely guilt-ridden that I was having to manipulate her, but convinced in my soul that in the end it would benefit her. That he would no longer be able to do this to hurt anyone else."
Also, when questioned by Larry King when she appeared on his show, Larry King Live in 2003, if she regretted her actions, she answered, "No, I would do it again."
In a statement issued by her attorneys to The Hollywood Reporter after her death, they hailed her honesty and courage. The statement said: "Linda understood how people in power can abuse their positions. She had incredible courage. She was faithfully committed to honesty in government. She stood up when others would not."
Lewinksy wished for her recovery
Owing to the media and legal storm that the scandal created, Lewinsky became the target of public scrutiny and was also vilified by several quarters. When she was called to testify in front of the grand jury, she said: "I'm really sorry for everything that's happened. And I hate Linda Tripp."
In an interview with comedian and talk show host John Oliver, Lewinsky opened up about the public shaming she endured. "It was an avalanche of pain and humiliation ... At 24 years old, it was really hard to hold onto a shred of dignity or self-esteem when you're the butt of so many jokes and being so misunderstood" she said.
However, on Wednesday, after learning about Tripp's ill-health, the now 46-year-old Lewinsky tweeted her wishes for Tripp's quick recovery. She wrote: "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."