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Tripp Sues White House and Pentagon

September 27, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Linda Tripp today sued the White House and her employer, the Defense Department, alleging they used confidential records to smear her reputation after she brought the Monica Lewinsky scandal to light.

The suit in federal court, contending Mrs. Tripp’s privacy was violated, says unidentified people in the executive office of the president ``unlawfully disclosed″ the contents of ``personnel files, FBI files, security files and other government records″ regarding Mrs. Tripp.

The disclosures were designed to spread ``embarrassing or damaging information ... for partisan political purposes,″ the suit stated. Mrs. Tripp secretly recorded her phone conversations with Ms. Lewinsky, and those tapes triggered Kenneth Starr’s criminal investigation that led to President Clinton’s impeachment and acquittal.

The lawsuit names 11 current and former Clinton administration figures, including first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, as having ``engaged in communications ... about Linda Tripp,″ though it does not name them as defendants and does not allege that any of them made unlawful disclosures. The 10 others are Bruce Lindsey, Cheryl Mills, Lanny Davis, Rahm Emanuel, Paula Begala, Ann Lewis, Lanny Breuer, Sidney Blumenthal, Harold Ickes and Mickey Kantor.

The suit also outlines the release of information to the news media from forms Mrs. Tripp filed with the Pentagon. In those forms, Mrs. Tripp told her employer she had never been arrested when in fact she had been.

Mrs. Tripp was accused of grand larceny in the alleged theft of $263 in cash and a $600 watch. She said the items were planted in her handbag by friends as part of a teen-age prank. Her lawyers have said the charges were dropped.

Mrs. Tripp is seeking an unspecified amount of money for ``harm to reputation and emotional distress and humiliation.″ The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Reagan appointee.

Mrs. Tripp’s lawyer, Stephen Kohn, said he asked for the case to be assigned to Lamberth, who is handling a number of lawsuits filed against the Clinton administration concerning alleged violations of confidentiality.

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