Tattle-Tale Linda Tripp Hit With Wiretap Rap

  • Share
  • Read Later
The Monica Lewinsky scandal refuses to fade away quietly. On Thursday, President Clinton was ordered to pay up $90,686 for his false and misleading deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit. And on Friday, the one character in the soap opera that virtually everyone loves to hate -- tattle-taling tipster Linda Tripp -- was indicted. A Maryland grand jury accused Tripp of secretly and illegally taping her phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky. Those conversations were what helped set off Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr on his impeachment pursuit of the President. Maryland law makes it illegal to tape another person’s phone conversation without permission and, if convicted, Tripp could face up to a $10,000 fine and five years in prison on each of the two counts of her indictment.

"It will be ironic if the person who blew the whistle winds up to be the only Lewinsky character convicted in a court of law," says TIME Washington correspondent Viveca Novak. Though it is much too early to know how her trial will come out, says Novak, it will probably turn in large measure on whether she knew her actions were illegal -- a defense that the Maryland wiretap statute permits. In the broader court of public opinion, however, Tripp may continue to face an uphill battle, even if she is acquitted. "For many people, Tripp gave new meaning to the word ‘friendship’ when she turned in Monica Lewinsky," says Novak. "For that reason it is difficult to find many who will feel empathy for her."