Linda Tripp, a key figure in the 1998 President Clinton sex scandal that culminated in his impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives, has died at the age of 70 from pancreatic cancer. Her death was not related to the coronavirus.
Tuesday night, reports surfaced that Tripp was on her deathbed as her daughter, Allison Tripp Foley, announced the unfortunate news on Facebook.
“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,” said Tripp Foley before making her profile private, according to the New York Post.
Prior to Tripp’s passing, Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern whose illicit affair with Bill Clinton nearly derailed his presidency, expressed well-wishes to Linda Tripp and her family.
“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,” tweeted Lewinsky.
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 (she/her) (@MonicaLewinsky) April 8, 2020
Linda Tripp became a household name in the late-1990s after she recorded several conversations between herself and Monica Lewinsky about the affair with President Clinton, which eventually culminated in his impeachment in the House. At one point, she even encouraged Lewinsky to document her relationship and keep the infamous semen-stained navy blue dress from being dry-cleaned. The tapes were turned over to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, serving as key evidence in the perjury case against the president.
The New York Post provided a detailed timeline of events:
Tripp was a civil servant in the Pentagon when she became close to the then-22-year-old Lewinsky, who also worked in the public affairs office.
During their conversations, Lewinsky revealed that she had a physical relationship with Clinton when she was a White House intern, and Tripp began to secretly record their talks.
Tripp also encouraged Lewinsky to document her relationship with the president.
Tripp turned the tapes over to then-independent counsel Kenneth Starr in exchange for immunity from illegal wiretapping charges.
She also told Starr about a key piece of evidence – the semen-stained navy blue dress Lewinsky said she wore during a sex act.
Lewinsky had shown Tripp the dress and she encouraged her to keep it and not have it dry cleaned.
Using the information on Tripp’s recordings, Starr got approval from then-Attorney General Janet Reno and the special court overseeing the independent counsel to expand the investigation into the relationship between Lewinsky and the president.
Lewinsky’s conversations laid the groundwork for the perjury charges against Clinton, who had denied the affair.
He was impeached by the House in December 1998 but was acquitted by the Senate in 1999.
At the time, and over the ensuing years, the media largely deemed Linda Tripp a vindictive partisan. Speaking with The Washington Post in 2018, Tripp said she only regrets “not having the guts to do it sooner,” arguing she was a victim of a “high-tech lynching” of her own.
“It was always about right and wrong, never left and right,” Tripp said. “It was about exposing perjury and the obstruction of justice. It was never about politics.”