EXCLUSIVE: 'She fancied herself in love.' Linda Tripp claims she exposed the affair between Monica Lewinsky and 'sexual predator' Bill Clinton to protect the young intern who believed the president would leave Hillary for her
- Linda Tripp exposed President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky after she secretly taped conversations with the White House intern in the 1990s
- Tripp, now 68, said her role in the scandal made her the 'most hated woman in America' but she would do it all over again?
- The former White House aide?felt 'compelled' to act, because she believes Bill Clinton, 71, is a 'sexual predator' with an 'addiction'?
- In an exclusive?interview with DailyMailTV, she said: 'This was part of his pattern where women are a means to an end. It was almost a servicing agreement but she [Monica] romanticized it'
- Tripp characterized Lewinsky, who was 22 years old at the time, as an 'emotionally young' woman who was 'obsessed' with the president??
- She added: 'Monica believed that they would grow old together'
Part One of a two-part exclusive ?interview with the woman once called 'The Most Hated Woman in America.' Linda Tripp, who has not spoken on camera for two decades, worked in the White House during the Clinton Administration. Tomorrow: All about 'dangerous' Hillary.
As the onslaught of allegations of sexual assault against some of the most powerful men, such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer, continues, the woman who exposed the scandal that threatened to bring down a President has spoken out in her first television interview for two decades.
In an extraordinary interview with DailyMailTV, Linda Tripp, who outed Monica Lewinsky as Bill Clinton’s mistress through secretly taped conversations with the Washington intern, has placed Clinton firmly in the same category as the men currently making headlines.
Giving the President ‘a pass’ for his behavior all those years ago brought us to where we are today according to Tripp, who has pointed to the moment as giving men in power permission to abuse their status to satisfy their sexual appetites.
Now she has shared what really happened and why she would do it all over again, though her actions made her ‘the most hated woman in America.’?
She has revealed why she felt 'compelled' to act, though she knew it meant 'shattering Monica's dreams', because she believes Bill Clinton, 71, is a?'sexual predator,' with an 'addiction'.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMailTV from her home in rural Virginia, Tripp, 68, said: 'This was part of his pattern where women are a means to an end. It was almost a servicing agreement but she romanticized it.
'I always say that Monica was 14. Look, she fancied herself in love. He fancied himself entitled.'?
Linda Tripp (pictured) exposed President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky after she secretly taped conversations with the White House intern in the late 1990s
Tripp, now 68, outed the young Lewinsky as Bill Clinton's mistress through secretly taped conversations with the 22-year-old Washington intern. ?Pictured: Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton at a White House Christmas party in 1996
Although Tripp said she was the 'most hated woman in America' she would do it all over again and was 'compelled' to act because she felt Bill was a 'sexual predator,' with an 'addiction'. Pictured: Tripp and Lewinsky?
According to Tripp, the biggest lie of all was that what happened between Lewinsky and Clinton was an 'affair.'
She said: 'I think the largest misconception would be that this was a consensual affair, or that it had some sort of romantic element to it which it didn't.'
It is almost exactly 20 years since the career civil servant made secret recordings of conversations in which Lewinsky shared intimate details of her relationship with Clinton who, at 49, was 27 years her senior.
Tripp's decision to hand the tapes over to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in return for immunity was seen, almost universally, as an act of betrayal.
In the furor that followed Tripp was depicted as the bitter older woman who had vindictively skewered her trusting 'best friend' and a President in whose politics she did not believe.?She had inserted herself into a situation that, however unsavory, was a private matter between husband, wife and mistress.
She received death threats. She was branded ugly inside and out - famously mocked on SNL in which John Goodman portrayed her in unflattering skits.
Speaking at the time Donald Trump, then freshly divorced from Marla Maples, described Tripp as 'evil personified.'
Yet, Tripp said: 'He was no different than so many others who believed the news as it was presented to them. And I can't fault them for that.
'Had I not known the situation and exactly what had happened, I would have thought I was evil personified.'
Tripp was depicted as the bitter older woman who had vindictively skewered her trusting 'best friend' and a president in whose politics she did not believe. She had inserted herself into a situation that, however unsavory, was a private matter between husband, wife and mistress
?Tripp worked for, and admired, George Bush Sr but, when Clinton took office in 1993, her excitement at having a President 'of her generation,' quickly soured
She said: 'It was a lifelong dream to work in the White House. I pinched myself every day that I was allowed to work [there] in any capacity…to be allowed to be a small part of it was such an honor and a blessing'?
But she said: 'I didn't just wake up one day and decide to go after a sitting President.'
Nor, she insisted, did she decide to go after her 'best friend.' In fact describing her relationship with Lewinsky as friendship at all is, Tripp said, a 'stretch.'
Instead, she has revealed that her actions were driven by values ingrained in her Roman Catholic youth - 'right and wrong, black and white with very little grey' - and came as the devastating climax to her time working in the White House and Pentagon.
Tripp worked for, and admired, George Bush Sr but, when Clinton took office in 1993, her excitement at having a President 'of her generation,' quickly soured.
She said: 'It was a lifelong dream to work in the White House. I pinched myself every day that I was allowed to work [there] in any capacity…to be allowed to be a small part of it was such an honor and a blessing.'
In 1994, Tripp was promoted out of the White House to a role in the Pentagon's public affair's office.
By then, she said, 'it was clear there was going to be a parting of ways', due to her unfavorable view of the Clintons.?
That might have been that - Tripp was back in her 'comfort zone' - had Monica Lewinsky not been 'dumped' in the Pentagon in April 1996 when Hillary learned about her relationship with Clinton.??
Tripp said: 'We all wondered how on earth she had landed that job. It became clear [that] she was having an affair with somebody of significance.'?
It was only after Clinton's 50th birthday celebrations at Radio City Music Hall in New York that Lewinsky told Tripp that the person of significance was the President himself. ?
Pictured: Bill Clinton with the 1995 class of White House interns, with Lewinsky circled in the back row
It was only after Clinton's 50th birthday celebrations at Radio City Music Hall in New York that Lewinsky told Tripp that the person of significance in her love life was the President himself. Pictured: Tripp being interviewed by Larry King?
Tripp believes the reason Lewinsky singled her out as a confidante was because she had 'jumbo pictures' of Clinton in her office as part of a project she was working on.
She said: 'I wish I could find words to explain that dynamic [between us]. Monica looked like a young woman. She was lovely.?She's smart and witty. But she was a child in every sense.
'She was obsessed with Bill Clinton. And what she was reading as a romance was something completely different to him. I knew how he operated, this was nothing new to me.'
Lewinsky's obsession was such, Tripp said, that she would call Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie as many as 20 times a day, trying to get back into the Oval Office.
Tripp said: 'Monica was so obsessed that there was absolutely no possibility of changing that. She believed that they would grow old together.
'She believed that the 15 minute interludes [of oral sex] was all he could spare and Hillary was still hanging around so she hoped that she would somehow disappear. It was all fantasy.'?
Lewinsky's obsession was such, Tripp said, that she would call Clinton's secretary, Betty Currie as many as 20 times a day, trying to get back into the Oval Office
Tripp added: 'She was obsessed with Bill Clinton. And what she was reading as a romance was something completely different to him. I knew how he operated, this was nothing new to me'
According to Tripp, the only time Clinton actually spoke to Lewinsky or appeared to take any interest in her beyond physical acts was, 'when he became aware she may have shared the information [of their relationship] with someone else.'
Clinton began giving Lewinsky little gifts, Tripp recalled - including a copy of Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass,' a book he gave to Hillary during their courtship.?
Tripp said: 'Monica found significance in it. I knew what he was doing. He needed to keep her on the reservation and this was now a danger.'
Today Tripp maintains that what she went on to do was about protecting, not destroying, Lewinsky - though she knew in her heart the 22-year-old was too infatuated with her older lover to comprehend that.
Tripp, then a divorced mother-of-two, said: 'My children were close in age to Monica.
'Her mother was in New York, Monica was living alone in an apartment in the Watergate, so she had ample time to obsess continually.
'At first I found her a little on the bimbo side but I came to realize that none of that is true. She is a smart, witty, caring, giving person who happened to be in the throes of an enormous obsession.
'I became fond of her and it pained me to do what I did. But I knew I had to do it.'
After all that she had witnessed during her tenure at the White House, Tripp said, 'I desperately wanted there to be some accountability for what he was doing.
'With Monica, it just put me over the edge. The kind of abuse of a kid was just so unconscionable. It was horrible, even for him.'?
Today, Tripp maintains that what she went on to do was about protecting, not destroying, Lewinsky - though she knew in her heart the 22-year-old was too infatuated with her older lover to comprehend that
Tripp said that she knew Lewinsky would never forgive her but: 'To me it was worth that risk - to have her hate me for life - if it would come to an end.' Pictured: Lewinsky in 2015
Tripp continued: 'I knew I would destroy her fantasy but I always said to myself the measure of whether this is something I can do or not was whether I would want that done to my daughter.
'By that I mean documenting evidence and exposing it and the answer was always a resounding, "Yes." I would have wanted an adult to put an end to it.
'Monica was threatening suicide on a regular basis - we're talking histrionics the likes of which you've never seen.
'She called me hundreds of times a week, literally. So yes, I knew it was going to be very painful for her. But I also knew it was the best thing I could do for her.'
And after Lewinsky told Clinton that Tripp knew of their affair, on July 4th weekend 1997, Tripp said: 'I am not so certain that Monica would not have been at some risk.'
Tripp was reluctant to specify just what she means by 'risk.'
When pressed she said: 'We were dealing with unscrupulous people with no boundaries, no rules that apply to them.'
At the very least, she reasoned, Lewinsky was at risk of having her credibility destroyed.
This was part of her motivation in persuading Lewinsky not to send?a blue dress bearing a semen stain from the President to be dry-cleaned. She wanted there to be irrefutable evidence - insurance for whatever might come their way.
And after Lewinsky told Clinton that Tripp knew of their affair, on July 4th weekend 1997, Tripp said: 'I am not so certain that Monica would not have been at some risk'
For Tripp's part, her decision to document her conversations with Lewinsky was cemented by the Paula Jones case.
In May 1994, Jones filed a suit alleging that three years earlier Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, had tried to force himself on her during a hotel room meeting in Little Rock. She worked for the state's industrial commission at the time.
Tripp said: 'I knew instinctively based on his pattern that Paula Jones was telling the truth but I knew that this was a lawsuit that she would lose.'
She wanted Jones to 'have her day in court' and she wanted Lewinsky to be deposed because everything that Lewinsky had shared with Tripp seemed, to her, to support Jones' assertions.
Tripp said: 'I hadn't documented anything she had said in real time. I hadn't taken notes while she was crying obsessively or planning obsessively or bemoaning his lack of response obsessively.'
Pausing, Tripp admitted: 'The betrayal for me was that I had to have her recreate that year and a half in conversations.
'It was manipulative without a doubt. But it wasn't done to hurt her.
'It was done to make him unable to lie and unable to destroy others while lying.'
Tripp said that she knew Lewinsky would never forgive her but: 'To me it was worth that risk - to have her hate me for life - if it would come to an end.'
As hard as it may be for many to understand, Tripp said, she felt 'protective' towards Lewinsky.
The last conversation Tripp and Lewinsky ever had was at the Ritz Carlton in Washington.
By then Tripp had handed her evidence over to Kenneth Starr and he had her wear a wire to the meeting.
Today, Tripp is a very different figure from the woman who made headlines all those years ago. Her extraordinary physical transformation was part of a process of reclaiming her life?
She had cosmetic surgery, she lost the weight she had gained, she found a loving and supportive husband in Dieter Rausch, she became herself again and she did it all out of the glare of the spotlight
Tripp now lives in her charming farmhouse home set amid the rolling horse country of Northern Virginia (pictured)
?But, Tripp recalled. 'She was cagey. I think she knew something was going on.
'It was an extremely stressful horrific time and none of it was positive.
'Because even though I knew I was doing the right thing, I knew how it would hurt her.'
Again and again Tripp returned to the point that, for her, there was simply no choice but to act.
If she has any regret today it is not that she acted, but that she did not act sooner.
She said: 'Had I taken notes during that year and a half, he would have been impeached successfully.'
Clinton's impeachment in December 1998 was overturned in February of the following year.?
Today Tripp's disdain for Clinton is palpable. As far as she is concerned his sexual appetite is tantamount to 'an addiction.' She said: 'To me he is a predator and always will be a predator.
'He sees women as a sort of enormous smorgasbord…and he takes what he wants and it's something to which he feels entitled.
'He was the leader of the free world and she was an intern, a kid, who happened to be extremely emotionally young for her age.' ?
Clinton's impeachment in December 1998 was overturned in February of the following year. Today Tripp's disdain for Clinton is palpable. As far as she is concerned his sexual appetite is tantamount to 'an addiction.' She said: 'To me he is a predator and always will be a predator'
Tripp's tape recordings of Monica Lewinsky led to an investigation of an alleged presidential affair. Pictured: Lewinsky and Clinton?
Tripp now says she was 'complicit' in her depiction as the villain of the piece.?
She said, 'When I saw the pictures [of myself] I realized how far I had fallen because when I worked at the White House I looked human and okay but my way of dealing with stress is just to eat.'
Hoards of unflattering images of Tripp flooded the newly minted 24-hour news cycle.
She said, 'Seeing these images a gazillion times a day was horrifying.'
Today, Tripp is a very different figure from the woman who made headlines all those years ago.?
She quite rightly suspects that people will be amazed by how different she looks. Twenty years on she appears more youthful, glamorous and comfortable in her own skin.
Looking back, she feels she was somehow ‘complicit’ in making herself an easy figure to hate. She responded to the pressure of the scandal by over-eating and gained a great deal of weight.?
She ‘lost herself’ and let herself go and the criticism she received was brutal and wounding. She said her children found it particularly hard because ‘children always think their mother is beautiful.'
Her extraordinary physical transformation was part of a process of reclaiming her life – she had cosmetic surgery, she lost the weight she had gained, she found a loving and supportive husband in Dieter Rausch, she became herself again and she did it all out of the glare of the spotlight.
She lives with second husband, German architect Rausch, 63, - a childhood sweetheart who reached out to her during her darkest days, offering support and ultimately rekindling their romance.
Home is a charming farmhouse set amid the rolling horse country of Northern Virginia.?
Tripp said: 'I always say I did the right thing; I did it the wrong way. But there is no manual for exposing a sitting President. There is no-one to tell you how to do it'
She added: 'For me it wasn't about left and right. It was about right and wrong. Sometimes things are too important not to talk about'
Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky looks at President Clinton at the White House on November 6, 1996, as they chat briefly during a ceremony gathering the White House interns
They have seven grandchildren, who she described as 'the joys of our lives' and, for the past 16 years she and Dieter have run a successful year-round Christmas store in picturesque Middleburg, Virginia.
It was Dieter who encouraged her to speak out when, as they watched the election results usher in Hillary's defeat last year, Tripp turned to him and said: 'The nation will never know what a bullet it dodged tonight.'
She recalled: 'He said, "That story is one that should be told."'?
Tripp was not destroyed nor was she defined by the scandal she exposed.?She said: 'It was painful. It still is painful when I think about it.
'I didn't want the 15 minutes of fame or infamy. I didn't choose to extend it. I'm a behind the scenes person on a good day.'
But it saddens her that the events of so many years ago have defined Lewinsky, now 44.
She said: 'I wish that her name didn't conjure an image that is so false.
'But she wanted to protect the President because she thought they might still have a future.
She continued: 'She believed they were star struck lovers. I think she needed to believe that. My hope was that one day, when she grew up, she would understand that that in fact was not true and that maybe, just maybe, I did this for the right reason.'?
Tripp now lives with second husband, German architect Dieter Rausch, 63, - a childhood sweetheart who reached out to her during her darkest days, offering support and ultimately rekindling their romance
The couple have seven grandchildren and for the past 16 years she and Dieter have run a successful year-round Christmas store in picturesque Middleburg, Virginia (pictured)
Tripp no longer harbors that hope. When Lewinsky testified before the grand jury and was asked if she had anything to add she said simply, 'I hate Linda Tripp.'
Tripp has no reason to think that Lewinsky's view has changed; but the national conversation has.
She said: 'I think 20 years ago I just wanted to hide. I did not want to expose my family to more pain. I do believe though that my children and my grandchildren deserve to hear the other side of the story.
'More than that, even on a global scale my small part to that extent that I can share what really happened 20 years ago may help in the future.
'Maybe it will give people pause…in terms of what people will put up with of men, specifically in positions of power.
'I desperately wish that the outrage had been there years ago. [Now] I just feel compelled to talk about things that should have been addressed head on back then and I was too naive and shell-shocked to do it.
'I always say I did the right thing; I did it the wrong way. But there is no manual for exposing a sitting President. There is no-one to tell you how to do it.
'For me it wasn't about left and right. It was about right and wrong.
'Sometimes things are too important not to talk about.'
Most watched News videos
- Disturbing video shows teen hurling a cat into the street
- Earl Kimrey charged with the death of 3-year-old Mariah Miller
- Busted! Package thief caught after her getaway driver flees
- Everyone is trying the latest trend: Invisible box challenge!
- New invisible box jump trend takes Twitter by storm
- Surveillance video shows Palm Beach cop shoot his ex-girlfriend
- Trump ‘not worried’ about Michael Flynn’s guilty Russia plea
- Megan Markle and Prince Harry announce their engagement
- Sir Elton on stage in Barcelona just hours before his mother died
- Horrifying moment dashcam shows lorry ploughing into two cars
- Moment thrill seeking base jumpers leap from 530ft Beachy Head
- Soldier surprises his 76ers dancer by returning from deployment
The comments below have been moderated in advance.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
By posting your comment you agree to our house rules.