Clinton accused: President's chief accuser tries to salvage reputation

Linda Tripp, whose secret tape-recordings could yet topple the US President, came out yesterday to defend her reputation and augment her account of events at the Clinton White House. But, as Mary Dejevsky reports, Mr Clinton's position appeared to be strengthening.

"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 of her 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."

This was the nub of the statement issued yesterday through her lawyer by Linda Tripp. It appears to establish, first, that Monica Lewinsky, the former White House trainee alleged to have had an affair with Mr Clinton, was on the receiving end of at least one phone call from the President. It suggests Ms Lewinsky has, or had, recordings of Mr Clinton's voice on her answer-machine. It confirms Ms Lewinsky's lawyer's statement and that of a former lover of Ms Lewinsky that she and Mr Clinton gave and received gifts. It may also prove that Ms Lewinsky's status and future were sufficiently worrying to the White House to have precipitated "volatile and contentious" discussion with aides.

While one purpose of Ms Tripp's statement was to put on the record her version of events, the other was to try to defend her conduct and salvage her reputation. It was she who propelled the alleged affair with Mr Clinton into the public domain by secretly recording her conversations with Ms Lewinsky and passing the tapes to the prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, who was already investigating the Clintons on other charges. Some of the material was leaked to Newsweek, triggering the scandal.

In her statement, Ms Tripp denies that she is, as Hillary Clinton and others claimed, part of a right-wing conspiracy against the President. Politically, she says, she is registered "independent". She says she was proud to work as a political appointee at the White House for Republican and Democrat administrations. She also denies personal motives; she says she was not "a disgruntled White House staffer".

She says she made the recordings and took them to the prosecutor because aspersions had been cast on her truthfulness and she feared being drawn into a cover-up of the Lewinsky affair. She had been summoned to testify under oath in the other sex case against Mr Clinton - the Paula Jones case - in which the prosecution is trying to establish a "pattern of behaviour" that would bolster Ms Jones's charge that she was the object of an unwanted sexual advance from Mr Clinton while he was governor of Arkansas.

Ms Tripp's statement almost eclipsed another disclosure that went some way towards explaining one of the more discussed episodes of Mr Clinton's past - his alleged affair with the Arkansas night-club singer Gennifer Flowers. When campaigning for the presidency in 1992, Mr Clinton, his wife beside him, denied allegations of a 12-year relationship with Ms Flowers. Under a widely leaked aspect of his sworn testimony in the Jones investigation last month, Mr Clinton was said to have admitted to the relationship but not, according to White House spokesman Mike McCurry, to have contradicted his earlier denial.

In excerpts from what it says is Mr Clinton's testimony, Time says he admitted to a brief fling with Ms Flowers but not a long affair. The magazine said lawyers questioned him in detail, "using a definition of sex that included, by name, any touching of the genitals, anus, groin, breasts, inner thigh or buttocks with the purpose to arouse or gratify". They then asked: "Did you have sex with Gennifer Flowers?" Mr Clinton replied: "Yes." On how many occasions? "Once, in 1977." Did she make sexual advances to you after that? "Once." Did you make sexual advances to her after that? "No."

This leaves a big gap between Mr Clinton's version and that of Ms Flowers. But it would explain Mr McCurry's claim that there was no conflict in Mr Clinton's two answers. This leaves open the possibility that this extract from Mr Clinton's sworn testimony - which is subject to a strict gag order - has been deliberately leaked to quell further speculation on the subject.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor