Kenneth Starr

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Clinton and Lewinsky on a 1998 Abkhazia stamp.

The Story Behind the Dress

In November 1997, Monica Lewinsky told her confidant and supposed friend, Linda Tripp that she had in her possession a blue Gap dress that still bore the semen stain that resulted from her administering oral sex to President Clinton in February of that year.

Tripp called her literary agent, and fellow Clinton-hater, Lucianne Goldberg to report the news that evidence existed in Lewinsky’s closet that could prove a sexual relationship between Monica and the President. Goldberg and Tripp, according to published reports in both Time and Newsweek, discussed stealing the dress and turning it over to investigators. Goldberg admitted having such a discussion with Tripp, calling it a “Nancy Drew fantasy.”

In late November, Lewinsky mentioned to Tripp that she intended to have the dress, which she had been saving as a souvenir, dry-cleaned for a family event. Tripp, anxious to preserve the dress to nail the President, discouraged her from doing so. “I would tell my own daughter,” Tripp told her, that she should save the dress “for your own ultimate protection” should she later be accused of lying about the affair with Clinton. When Lewinsky expressed skepticism that it would ever come to that, Tripp told her that the dress made her look “really fat” and she shouldn’t wear it again in public.

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Lewinsky and then-President Clinton's liaison was big news in 1998.

Lewinsky and then-President Clinton’s liaison was big news in 1998.

Linda Tripp

A Presidential Affair

Linda Rose Tripp is a former U.S. civil servant who figured in the Monica Lewinsky scandal of 1998–99. The former White House employee found herself at the center of a media firestorm after it was discovered that she had secretly recorded conversations with President Bill Clinton’s alleged mistress, White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and handed them over to the man investigating the Clintons’ Whitewater scandal, Kenneth Starr. The tapes played a key role in Clinton’s eventual impeachment by Congress, and Tripp endured intense media scrutiny.

Tripp’s action in secretly recording Lewinsky’s confidential phone calls about her relationship with the President caused a sensation with their links to the earlier Jones v. Clinton lawsuit and with the disclosing of notably intimate details. Tripp claimed that her motives were purely patriotic, and she was able to avoid a wiretap charge in exchange for handing in the tapes. She then claimed that her firing from the Pentagon at the end of the Clinton administration was vindictive, while the administration claimed it to be a standard routine.

Tripp was a White House employee in the George H. W. Bush administration, and kept her job when Bill Clinton took over in 1993. During the summer of 1994, senior White House aides wanted Tripp out, so they arranged a job for her in the public affairs office in the Pentagon which gave her a raise of $20,000 per year.

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