- The Washington Times - Friday, December 17, 1999

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. Monica Lewinsky testified Thursday that she was frightened when she first saw a Newsweek story about telephone conversations she had with Linda R. Tripp in which she discussed her affair with President Clinton.
“It terrified me,” Miss Lewinsky said during a hearing in Howard County Circuit Court that will determine if Mrs. Tripp stands trial for violating state wiretapping laws. “I was concerned about the privacy of my relationship being revealed.”
In her nearly two-hour appearance on the stand, the former White House intern appeared confident and sometimes amused in providing testimony against her former friend.
Dressed in black, Miss Lewinsky, 26, said she did not know that Mrs. Tripp was recording their conversation on Dec. 22, 1997, as she discussed intimate details of her sexual relationship with Mr. Clinton.
At one point, while being cross-examined by Tripp attorney Joseph Murtha, Miss Lewinsky asked if she could check with her attorney. Mr. Murtha said, “You can ask me.”
Miss Lewinsky chuckled and said, “You’re not my lawyer,” evoking laughter from spectators.
Another time she corrected Mr. Murtha when he got her birthday wrong by saying, “Nope, nope, nope.”
“I was just testing your memory,” he joked, tossing up his hands in mock exasperation.
Miss Lewinsky’s memory, specifically of the Dec. 22, 1997, date, and her lack of consent in the recording of her conversation figure large in the state prosecutor’s case against Mrs. Tripp.
It is illegal in Maryland to record a conversation without the other person’s consent, which Mrs. Tripp discovered in a November 1997 conversation with a lawyer. Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 18.
Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure this week ruled that Mrs. Tripp was not protected by federal immunity until Feb. 19, 1998, a full month after she had turned over her recordings to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
The two wiretapping charges against her focus on the Dec. 22, 1997, recording and its transcript, given Jan. 17, 1998, to Newsweek magazine, which ran the story in its Feb. 2, 1998, issue.
Mrs. Tripp has yet to appear at the courthouse during the pretrial hearing, but her son, Ryan, watched and listened as Miss Lewinsky testified.
“I hope it goes to trial so my mom can be completely vindicated,” Mr. Tripp, 24, said afterward.
Miss Lewinsky appeared much as she has throughout the last two tumultuous years. The expression on her clear-complexioned face was alert, almost inquisitive, and she laughed quickly and easily a couple of times.
But after she was excused, she arose and stood on the edge of the witness stand, looking down at her attorneys. Tugging a shoulder bag up over her black dress, her expression was one of fatigue. She looked 10 years older than 26.
Twenty minutes later, she exited quickly from a little-used side door of the courthouse into the shaded back seat of a van, escorted away between two unmarked cars driven by the state prosecutor’s staff.
Miss Lewinsky’s testimony is important to Maryland State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli, who is trying to convince Judge Leasure that his evidence against Mrs. Tripp is untainted by, or did not come from, Mr. Starr’s investigation.
The Maryland case cannot legally be based, even indirectly, on information Mrs. Tripp provided to Mr. Starr under court-ordered immunity from prosecution.
Under cross examination by Mr. Murtha, Miss Lewinsky admitted that Mr. Starr’s investigators had put dates on the tape recordings that Mrs. Tripp turned over to them. Miss Lewinsky initialed them only to indicate it was her voice.
“You didn’t give the information to them. They gave it to you. Isn’t that correct?” Mr. Murtha asked.
“Correct,” Miss Lewinsky answered.
Mr. Murtha confirmed that Miss Lewinsky had scanned Mr. Starr’s report, read a couple of pages in the book, “Uncovering Clinton,” by the Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff and helped author Andrew Morton write “Monica’s Story” before she testified to the Howard County grand jury.
“Sure, we used it,” Miss Lewinsky said, referring to the Starr report and 5,000-plus pages of supplemental material. “Andrew Morton is the author of this book. I was interviewed by him.”
In interviews, Miss Lewinsky has indicated she feels her former friend betrayed her. “Everyone in our family wants Linda Tripp to lie awake at night, worrying about going to jail,” she told Mr. Morton.
Miss Lewinsky also testified that Mr. Montanarelli had not instructed her as she prepared her statement to the Howard County grand jury that she was not using any information obtained from the Starr report.
Asked how she could be certain the tape was recorded Dec. 22, 1997, Miss Lewinsky said it was after she was subpoenaed three days earlier by Mr. Starr, the same day she was to talk to Mr. Clinton’s lawyer friend Vernon Jordan about a New York job and the night before her farewell party from her job at the Pentagon.
“It was etched in my mind because it was a pretty frightening time for me,” Miss Lewinsky said.
But, Mr. Murtha pointed out, Mr. Montanarelli had asked Mrs. Tripp’s attorney when the tape was made in August 1998, and the attorney, after talking with Miss Lewinsky, answered “on Dec. 22 or 23.”
Thursday’s hearing ended after testimony by Gavin Patashnick, a former law clerk in Mr. Montanarelli’s office. He testified he wrote an 11-page memorandum after the Starr report was published in September 1998.
“Mr. Montanarelli asked me to prepare that,” Mr. Patashnick testified, explaining that he made three copies, one for Mr. Montanarelli, one for himself and one for the base file, which is available to all members of Mr. Montanarelli’s staff.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide