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Tripp Facing Perjury Charges

By Scott Shane
The Baltimore Sun
WASHINGTON

Linda R. Tripp, whose surreptitious taping of conversations with her friend Monica S. Lewinsky led to allegations that President Clinton lied under oath, is now under investigation herself for possible perjury for telling a federal grand jury that the tapes she turned over were undoctored originals.

Citing an FBI analysis showing that nine of the tapes appear to be duplicates, an appendix to the report of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr, released Monday, concludes:

"If Ms. Tripp duplicated any tapes herself or knew of their duplication, then she has lied under oath before the grand jury and in a deposition. The (Office of Independent Counsel) continues to investigate this matter."

The report says Starr's office "cannot exclude the possibility of tampering" with the duplicated tapes. Investigators do not know who made the duplicates, the report says.

The two thick volumes of evidence released by the House Judiciary Committee flesh out a portrait of Tripp as the older woman upon whom Lewinsky relied for advice and comfort during her emotionally tumultuous sexual involvement with the president. Indeed, Lewinsky testified to the grand jury, it was Tripp who urged her to preserve the infamous stained dress, predicting that it could become evidence.

But in her testimony, also made public Monday, Lewinsky claims to have lied repeatedly to Tripp as she came to trust her less. Perhaps most significantly, Lewinsky testified that she lied when she told Tripp that Clinton and his friend Vernon Jordan had advised her to testify untruthfully about the affair.

"I think I told her that - you know, at various times the president and Mr. Jordan had told me to lie," Lewinsky testified to the grand jury. "That wasn't true."

There are indications that Lewinsky made the false statements to Tripp on Jan. 13 - when Tripp was wearing a body wire and Starr's agents were recording their conversation.

"I told her a whole bunch of lies that day," Lewinsky testified.

Tripp played a crucial role in January in expanding Starr's long-running investigation of Clinton in January to include possible wrongdoing by the president involving a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. The Lewinsky testimony raises the possibility that Starr's prosecutors planned their investigation in January based in part on a false allegation that Clinton and Jordan had urged Lewinsky to lie in the Paula Corbin Jones sexual misconduct case.

In Starr's formal report to the House earlier this month, he alleges only that the president and Lewinsky "had an understanding that they would lie under oath in the Jones case" - not that Clinton ever directly asked her to lie.

Tripp, 48, worked at the White House before transferring to the Pentagon public relations job she still holds. She has been widely denounced for betraying a friend half her age by taping her phone calls and setting up the January meeting taped by Starr. Because Tripp had once shopped a proposal for a tell-all expose of the Clinton White House to Lucianne Goldberg, a New York book agent, her critics have suggested that she hoped to mine Lewinsky's sexual tales for book material.

The appendix to the Starr report covering the 27 Tripp tape cassettes says they were recorded between Oct. 3, 1997, and Jan. 15.