In the years since Linda Tripp secretly recorded Monique Lewinsky, prepare the ground for Bill clintonof impeachment and Lewinsky’s public humiliation, people struggled to understand why Tripp would betray a friend so deeply. One theory was that Tripp had simply sought out a book deal throughout his acquaintance with Lewinsky and sought advice from a conservative literary agent. Lucianne Goldberg record conversations as evidence. But Tripp herself claimed that the idea was outrageous – she would not have “chosen[n] turn the world upside down to sell books.
Instead, Tripp, who died in 2020, said she acted out of moral duty to end the abuse in the White House and protect her friend. “I was so mad at him [Clinton]”Tripp later told ABC News.” I wanted this relationship exposed in the greatest way because it was so cruel. It was beyond cruel what he was doing to her.
The truth about Tripp’s motives is probably much more complicated. And the Tuesday premiere Impeachment: American Crime Story, “Exiles,” establishes the complicated backstory of Tripp’s betrayal by isolating a critical turning point in Tripp’s journey from loyal public servant to embittered: the suicide of Vince Foster in 1993.
Tripp had started working in the White House as a floating secretary during the Bush administration. In 1993, she was offered a position as Permanent Secretary in the White House Council Office, where she worked for Bernard Nussbaum and Foster, the latter being an Arkansas lawyer, a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton‘s, and the deputy lawyer. The job was top notch for a longtime government employee like Tripp. (“The White House was the dream,” Tripp later said in an interview with ABC News. “I would have cleaned the toilet with my tongue to work in the White House.”) As special assistant to the board of the White House, Tripp was placed outside the offices of Nussbaum and Foster who, as The Washington post in other words, were “the men who handled the most sensitive internal affairs of the White House.” Tripp’s proximity has essentially placed her “in the seat of power.”
This happy period for Tripp came to an abrupt end on July 20, 1993, when Foster committed suicide. She had served Foster his last meal, a cheeseburger and M & Ms, and was one of the last people to see Foster alive. Tripp recalled that Foster left the office the day he died telling Tripp he would be “back”. Instead, Foster traveled to a suburban Virginia park overlooking the Potomac River and shot himself in the head with an antique revolver.
At the time of his death, Foster was facing a series of Clinton scandals, both as deputy White House attorney and, in Whitewater’s case, as personal attorney for the Clintons. Given Foster’s responsibilities, his suicide spawned a myriad of conspiracy theories, even after five investigations, including by independent lawyers. Robert B. Fiske Jr. and Kenneth starr– concluded that Foster suffered from severe depression which led to his suicide.
There was no sign of a struggle or evidence that Foster had been intoxicated or drugged. Foster’s wife identified the gun found with Foster as the one that had gone missing from the family home. And several family members and a doctor later revealed the depth of Foster’s depression. Starr’s report: