Tripp Tapped for Perjury Rap

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WASHINGTON: In his crusade against perjury, Ken Starr is wielding a double-edged sword that cuts both informer and informee. And so it was that Linda Tripp found herself under independent counsel investigation late Monday for lying to the grand jury about the tapes she made of conversations with Monica Lewinsky. The FBI Audio Signal Analysis Unit found that nine of her tapes are not consistent with the recording equipment Tripp says she used -- and as the Starr report suggests in one of its voluminous footnotes, that means Tripp may have erased vital moments of her exchange with Monica. Moreover, if she "duplicated any tapes herself or knew of her duplication, then she has lied under oath," Starr's office sternly warned. Tripp's spokesman denied the charge without elaborating.

Special Report Considering Tripp's low standing in the public esteem, such a probe may turn out to be a bold p.r. move on the prosecutor's part. Couple it with the ongoing investigation in Maryland over whether Tripp knew her wiretap was illegal, and it adds up to a whole lot of trouble for the informant extraordinaire. Not to mention what may become -- in female eyes, at least -- the most inexcusable charge: that she persuaded Lewinsky not to wash the stained Gap dress by telling the former intern she "looked fat" in it. "I hate Linda Tripp!" a tearful Lewinsky told the grand jury. Clearly, there's one statement that isn't perjurous.