Tripp puts her story to Grand Jury

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The Independent Online
THE WOMAN who made the tape recordings that could yet bring down a President is to make her long-awaited appearance before the grand jury in Washington today.

Linda Tripp, who is 48 and employed at the Pentagon, triggered the criminal investigation into President Clinton's relations with Monica Lewinsky when she sent 20 hours' worth of cassette tapes to the independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, in January.

Ms Tripp had secretly recorded conversations with Ms Lewinsky in which she related an 18-month affair with the President and her disappointment when it ended. In the tapes, sections of which have been leaked to the media, Ms Lewinsky refers to Mr Clinton as "the Big Creep" and "Handsome" and tells of waiting in a side room off the Oval office to perform oral sex on the President after his visitor, the President of Mexico, had left.

Among the questions the prosecutor will want Ms Tripp to answer are why she made the recordings, whether anyone asked her to, why she told the prosecutor about them, and whether she has information that was not on the tapes.

She will also be asked about the so-called "talking points" - a list of questions and answers, ostensibly prepared by a lawyer, that she was allegedly given by Ms Lewinsky to ensure that any testimony they gave in court coincided. The tapes and the "talking points" are crucial elements in Mr Starr's case that Mr Clinton had an affair with Ms Lewinsky when she was a White House trainee, lied about it under oath and obstructed the course of justice by prevailing upon her to lie about it also.

Yesterday the appeals court considered the President's case for keeping discussions with his friend and White House legal adviser, Bruce Lindsey, confidential. Newsweek magazine also published a second account of the alleged affair by another Lewinsky confidante.

Ms Tripp's testimony is supposed to be confidential, although she may talk about it if she chooses. However, it seems inevitable that at least some of the details will leak out.

Tripp to defend evidence, Review, page 8