29 Jan 1998 Text: Statement of former White House Aide Linda Tripp of January 29, 1998
Because I have chosen the path of truth, I have been vilified by spokesmen for the administration I proudly serve as a political appointee. The very same administration which is now trying to portray me as a disgruntled White House staffer, with a penchant for involving myself in scandals, has promoted me twice, given me a political appointment overseeing a critical public relations program at the Pentagon, consistently given me the highest possible annual evaluations and awarded me numerous certificates and merit pay increases.
Although there is no political litmus test for telling the truth, I am a registered independent. Further, as a career civil servant in both the Bush and Clinton White Houses, my responsibility was to serve and support the institution of the presidency rather than its particular incumbent or party.
Until January 1998, I had never voluntarily or intentionally inserted myself into any alleged scandal which has tarnished this administration. Because I worked on a daily basis with President Clinton and the counsel to the president, I, along with many others, was subpoenaed by the independent counsel and by Congress to testify in numerous investigations, including Whitewater, the tragic suicide of Vince Foster, and Travelgate.
I did not volunteer to become a witness in the Paula Jones lawsuit. Kathleen Willey named me to the press as a corroborating witness. I was subpoenaed to testify about Ms. Willey and about any other women who may have had an intimate relationship with the president.
I went to the independent counsel to report potential crimes, which included the possibility of obstruction of justice and perjury. I was being solicited to participate in a plan to conceal and cover up the true nature of the relationship between Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton. Monica described every detail of the relationship during hundreds of hours of conversations over the past 15 months. In addition, I was present when she received a late night phone call from the president. I have also seen numerous gifts they exchanged and heard several tapes of him. I was also present when Monica made and received numerous phone calls which were of a volatile and contentious nature directly relating to her relationship with the president.
I felt especially at risk if I told the truth in my deposition in the Jones case because the president, through his counsel, Robert Bennett, was quoted in the national media last August saying “she is not to be believed.”
I chose to contact Mr. Starr’s staff because I had confidence in his fairness, thoroughness and integrity based on my experience during previous investigations.
I considered writing a book following the denunciation former FBI agent Gary Aldrich received for writing his book. A trusted friend put me in touch with Ms. Lucy Goldberg, a literary agent in New York, who wanted me to work with a collaborator on a book. My idea was to do a factual account of life and work in the White House during the Bush and Clinton administrations which would allow the public to draw its own conclusions. I withdrew from this project shortly thereafter because of disagreements over style and format, and because of potential risk to my job. I want to emphasize that whatever political agenda Ms. Goldberg may have is not mine. I went to her as a friend in the fall of 1997 for advice and counsel; she did not seek me out. I continue to value her friendship.
I struggled long and hard before contacting the prosecutor. The allegations involved immensely powerful and important people. I was facing substantial risk of losing everything I have aspired to during by 18-year civil service career. The vicious personal attacks against me by an administration spokesman, and the general climate of threats, intimidation, McCarthyistic tactics and guilt by association can only serve to deter those who in the future may dare to bring information to law enforcement officials. No one should be forced to deny the truth under oath, not even a political appointee whose livelihood is dependent upon the good favor of those in power.
As a parent of children close to Monica’s age, I felt and continue to feel horror at the abuse of power and emotional anguish she has endured over a two-year period. I am disturbed by the smear campaign that maligns Monica. She is a bright, caring, generous soul one who has made poor choices. She was not a stalker, she was invited; she did not embellish, the truth is sensational enough. Monica’s moral compass is her own. She, as anyone else, should not be forced to defend her private life as a carefully orchestrated campaign is launched to discredit her. I firmly believe the truth will be her friend as the facts come to light.