WASHINGTON -- The woman who taped Monica Lewinsky's account of an affair with President Clinton provided a sworn statement three weeks ago to lawyers for Paula Corbin Jones, saying she had "detailed conversations" about the "sexual relationship" and heard tapes of the president's voice.
Linda R. Tripp, 48, a Pentagon public relations assistant from Columbia, said in the affidavit that Lewinsky, a former White House intern, "revealed to me in detailed conversations on innumerable occasions that she has had a sexual relationship with President Clinton since Nov. 15, 1995."
The one-page affidavit, dated Jan. 21, came two weeks after Tripp approached Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr with about 20 hours of recorded conversations she had with Lewinsky about the alleged affair.
Clinton has strongly denied any sexual relationship with Lewinsky.
Tripp said in the affidavit for Jones -- who has accused the president of sexual misconduct when he was governor of Arkansas -- that Lewinsky "played for me at least three tapes containing the President's voice and showed me gifts they exchanged."
Tripp also mentioned both the tapes and the gifts in a statement she released last week through her lawyers, although she provided no specifics.
Tripp's lawyers either could not be reached or declined comment on the Tripp affidavit, which was printed in yesterday's Washington Post.
James Moody, one of Tripp's lawyers, has said that his client heard three taped messages from Lewinsky's answering machine. Moody characterized them as "brief messages" in which the president expressed regret that Lewinsky was not at home and saying he would call back.
Both women worked at the Clinton White House and later became friendly while working in the Pentagon's public affairs office.
Tripp's sworn statement to Jones' lawyers also says that Lewinsky "was going to deny everything, that President Clinton would deny everything and she repeatedly stated that I must lie and deny that she ever told me anything about a relationship with President Clinton."
The attorneys for Jones approached Tripp in hopes of bolstering their case by showing a pattern of improper behavior by the president. She came to their attention after she was quoted in Newsweek magazine last summer as saying that White House worker Kathleen E. Willey had told her about being kissed and fondled by Clinton.
When Tripp's account appeared in Newsweek, Clinton's lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, said Tripp "is not to be believed." Tripp later said that comment led her to tape her conversations with Lewinsky as a means of self protection.
Lewinsky denied an affair with Clinton in a Jan. 7 affidavit filed in the Jones case, as a way to avoid undergoing a deposition.
On Jan. 12, Tripp went to Starr with her tapes of Lewinsky. Nine days later, Jones' lawyers obtained the affidavit from Tripp and used it to oppose Lewinsky's efforts to avoid giving a deposition in their client's case.
Clinton's defenders have attacked both Starr and Jones' lawyers as being part of a conspiracy against the president, and some have lashed out at Tripp, noting she previously worked in the Bush White House and later testified in the investigations of Vincent Foster's suicide, Travelgate and Whitewater.
But Tripp said in her statement last week that she is a political appointee of the Clinton administration and that she was subpoenaed with other White House aides to testify in those investigations.
"She's hopeful that someday her life will return to normal," said Anthony Zaccagnini, one of her lawyers, earlier this week.
"No one would intentionally bring all this scrutiny on themselves."
Pub Date: 2/07/98