Tripp's lawyer suggests questions for Lewinsky in Md. Prosecutor's office rejects Murtha's advice on probe

July 11, 1998|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- A lawyer for Linda R. Tripp said yesterday that if Monica Lewinsky cooperates with the Maryland state prosecutor's wiretap investigation of Tripp, the former White House intern should be questioned about crimes she herself may have committed in Maryland.

The statement by Tripp's lawyer, Joseph Murtha, came a day after a source close to Lewinsky's legal team said Lewinsky will comply with a subpoena, if she receives one, from Maryland state prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli.

Montanarelli announced earlier this week that he had launched an inquiry into whether Tripp broke state wiretap law in Maryland by secretly tape-recording phone conversations with Lewinsky from her home in Columbia. A Howard County grand jury has begun looking into the matter.

In what appeared to be a warning to Lewinsky against any cooperation with Montanarelli, Murtha urged the state prosecutor to examine whether Lewinsky asked Tripp to lie under oath and thus committed a crime that could be prosecuted in Maryland.

"We understand Mr. Montanarelli can subpoena whomever he chooses to testify before the Howard County grand jury," Murtha said in an interview last night. "If Ms. Lewinsky makes herself available to him, we would encourage Mr. Montanarelli to question her fully about all of her conversations with Linda Tripp, including any possible solicitations of Mrs. Tripp to commit criminal offenses.

"Those possible crimes would include subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice. We would request such questioning in order to provide a full and thorough investigation."

In addition to making phone calls to Tripp, Lewinsky reportedly had been to Tripp's home in Columbia, so some of their conversations might have taken place in Maryland.

Gavin Patashnick, a spokesman for Montanarelli, said the state prosecutor is not authorized to investigate anything beyond Tripp's tape-recording activities.

"The target of our investigation is not Monica Lewinsky, but Linda Tripp," Patashnick said. "We're not authorized to investigate Monica Lewinsky. Only the wiretap allegation was deferred to us. That's it. Nothing to do with perjury or subornation of perjury."

Montanarelli was given the Tripp matter in February after Howard County State's Attorney Marna McLendon, a Republican, decided that the inquiry was too politically sensitive and handed it off to the state prosecutor.

Montanarelli is investigating whether Tripp's recordings of her conversations with Lewinsky were in violation of Maryland law.

After Montanarelli's announcement this week that he had begun an inquiry -- while Tripp was testifying before Kenneth W. Starr's federal grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter -- Tripp and her lawyers accused the state prosecutor of bowing to political pressure and trying to intimidate Tripp. The state prosecutor has denied the accusations.

Pub Date: 7/11/98

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