Linda Tripp, whose secret tape recordings helped trigger former President Clinton’s impeachment, broke two decades of silence on Monday, saying her only regret was that she didn't take action earlier to expose the affair.
“I do fault myself for not having the gumption or the courage to do something sooner,” Tripp told an audience in a Senate building on Capitol Hill, delivering the keynote address at an event honoring whistleblowers.
Tripp offered a stern defense of her actions and those of whistleblowers broadly, saying she risked her own reputation and career in order to expose “perjury and obstruction of justice.”
More than 20 years ago, Tripp secretly recorded her conversations with Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who was having an affair with Clinton while he was in office. Tripp later gave the recordings to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, and Clinton was later impeached by the House of Representatives.
Tripp on Monday accused Clinton’s allies and the “complicit media” of smearing her name and painting her as a villain.
“I hope that my being here today can change that dynamic, even if just a little bit, so that future whistleblowers with just causes can avoid the harsh reality that I faced,” Tripp said.
She also rejected assertions that she acted out of self-interest during Clinton's presidency.
“To those out there who say I did this for personal gain, I say, standing here 20 years later, what did I stand to gain then or now?” Tripp said. “I stood to lose everything, and in fact, I did.”
“And yet, if I had to do it all over again, I would,” she added.
Tripp received immunity from prosecution for illegal wiretapping when she handed over the taped conversations to Starr. She also informed him of Lewinsky’s now-infamous blue dress, which became a key piece of evidence in the case against Clinton.
Starr eventually outlined 11 possible grounds for impeaching Clinton, including perjury and obstruction of justice. The House moved to impeach Clinton at the end of 1998. The Senate acquitted him on both articles of impeachment.
Tripp has avoided the public spotlight since the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Lewinsky also largely remained out of the public view until the past few years when she began advocating against bullying.
Tripp was introduced Monday by Michael Kohn, her former attorney who is co-founder of the National Whistleblower Center.
The event, organized by the National Whistleblower Center, included speakers such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products MORE (R-Iowa) and Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general who authored a report published last month that faulted former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE and other FBI officials for their actions leading up to the 2016 presidential election.