Starr's Tripp Wire

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WASHINGTON: From Whitewater to Paula Jones to an alleged conspiracy involving the President and a 24-year old intern. How did Kenneth Starr get where he is today?

With a Pentagon staffer named Linda Tripp. A White House aide in both the Bush and Clinton administrations, Tripp has previously testified for Starr about Vince Foster's death. TIME Washington correspondent Viveca Novak says their relationship was renewed when Tripp sought Starr out. "Sources say Tripp made some tapes, and took them to Starr. Starr then wired her up and sent her back for more." He's now granted her immunity.

Officially, however, Kenneth Starr was not involved until Friday, when the panel of three federal judges who oversee Starr's investigation followed quickly by Janet Reno approved its expansion into the new allegations. "Starr had to present some rationale to the judges," Novak says like feeding them names common to both investigations. Whatever it was, they went for it.

Tripp made the news again last summer when Newsweek quoted her saying that Kathleen Willey, another White House aide, told her of an encounter with Clinton. Why exactly did she make the tapes? "No one knows if she's on a vendetta, or what," says Novak. She's certainly been helpful to Kenneth Starr.