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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Linda Tripp
Aired December 1, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight exclusive, Linda Tripp. Her own life was changed forever when she helped get the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal in motion. And now she is breaking her long silence. Her first interview since being diagnose with breast cancer and since settling her lawsuit against the Pentagon. She'll even break some news too, something she has never discussed in public before. Linda Tripp for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Time flies. Hard to believe Linda Tripp was last on this program in February of 2001. Two and a half years. That was before 9/11. Good to see you.
LINDA TRIPP: Thank you for inviting me.
KING: Where were you on 9/11 by the way?
TRIPP: I was scheduled to fly out on A United Flight to Frankfurt that day.
KING: From Washington?
KING: Were you at the airport?
TRIPP: I was on the way to the airport. And I had a call from a friend, I assumed it was an air force -- air traffic control kind of problem. I never in a million years imagined such tragedy.
KING: So, let's get to how you are. You were diagnosed with breast cancer. What's been done since and how are you?
TRIPP: I had a lumpectomy. And had eight rounds of chemotherapy, which is pretty debilitating. The interesting thing for me was that my sister's been an executive with the American Cancer Society for 25 years. And I've always known of so many breast cancer patients, and so forth. And always amazed me that our family hadn't been touched by it. So it was kind of finally our family was touched by it.
KING: The lumpectomy hard to take?
TRIPP: The lumpectomy is easy. It's the chemo that's somewhat difficult
KING: What did it do to you.
TRIPP: I don't want to put people off from treatment, so...
KING: I know some people who said the chemotherapy is worse than the disease.
TRIPP: Yes, it's almost -- you question, this is the cure?
In my case, I found it to be almost completely debilitating for an eight-month period.
KING: Did you have nausea?
TRIPP: Yes, but the drugs are good for nausea. It was the second type of chemo, which is an extremely aggressive type, called Taxotere. That for me was, a challenge. Your nail beds fall off.
KING: Your nail beds?
TRIPP: On your feet and hands. And there's immeasurable muscle and bone pain in your lower extremities. So it made it difficult to walk.
KING: But did it also cure it?
TRIPP: Well, I don't think they use the word cure with breast cancer.
KING: What do they call, arrested?
TRIPP: Particularly in my case, because it was in the lymph nodes. It's the treatment that's the most aggressive treatment for this type of breast cancer. And then you take it day by day. But I've met some incredibly courageous women. I'm blessed, because my children were grown. I met a woman, a wonderful woman who's husband was a D.C. councilman with triplets that were 6-years-old, and when I met her, they were four years old. And she recently passed away. And you see pictures of these darling -- three darling 6-year-old children you realize how fortunate you are that this disease, in my case, at a time in my life when that's finished.
KING: So, how, Linda -- your condition right now is?
TRIPP: There. It's there.
KING: You have breast cancer?
TRIPP: Yes, I mean, I think you always have breast cancer. It's a question of...
KING: Would it show up on a test today?
TRIPP: I think not. I think, though, there is always the concern. And breast cancer, I think the fallacy that people think is that it can only attack the breast. But in fact, once it's in the lymph nodes it can affect everything, your bones, your blood.
KING: How do they tell you you had it?
TRIPP: I had a terrific surgeon at Bethesda Naval Hospital. He said the results had come back this way. And this is what we're going to do. And it was always a forward movement, positive, this is how we're going to fight it kind of thing.
KING: What was your first reaction?
TRIPP: Terror. Sheer terror.
TRIPP: Beyond comprehension. I didn't want to leave my kids.
KING: Did you lose your hair?
TRIPP: All of it. This is the result.
KING: This is a wig?
TRIPP: No, this is what's grown back.
KING: It grew back completely different than you looked?
TRIPP: Yes, but then I had frosted my hair for 30 years, so I didn't know what it looked like underneath. So this is what came back.
KING: Did you wear a wig when you were without hair?
TRIPP: For a while. Yes. Scarfs, hats.
KING: It must be hard for a woman to lose her hair.
TRIPP: You know, I don't know. I didn't think about it so much, because you're still combating the disease. I don't know, I've met so many people who have gone through this, that there are ways, you use wigs, scarves, caps. And it's sort of the least possible thing that you're focusing on is your appearance.
KING: Your attorneys made the announcement, that was to avoid the tabloids leaking it? Is that why you decided to...
TRIPP: Yes. We had already been told by certain people that the tabloids had the story and were going to run with it, and they did.
KING: Why do you feel comfortable okay to talk about it now?
TRIPP: I think it's so important. I was the queen of denial. And I wasn't the type to -- I took care of my children, and they had all their checkups. But in terms of doing what most women should do, missed mammograms and self-exam, I wasn't doing it.
KING: What finally led you to find out?
TRIPP: There were indications that I needed to go in.
KING: You had signs?
TRIPP: Yes. And I finally...
KING: Did you do a self-examination?
TRIPP: No, what was interesting is I had dear friends who were going away over New Year's -- the New Year's weekend two years ago. And they had a 90-year-old mom living in the house. They needed someone to stay with her. And I said, well, we'll come and stay. Go ahead and go. So we did. I was taking a shower in their bathroom, and hanging in the -- right at eye level was one of these self-exam, danger sign kind of things.
KING: What to do?
TRIPP: Exactly. It was sort of staring me in the face. All of a sudden I realized, I thought, oh, I have that. I better go to the doctor. I went the next week.
KING: So did you do the surgery right away?
TRIPP: Right. Yes.
KING: Was that emotionally difficult to handle?
TRIPP: The terror was emotionally difficult. Because I was so afraid that I'd put my children through so much with this Clinton thing, I didn't want to now leave them without a mom. So that was my big concern.
KING: Concern for them?
TRIPP: Yes. I didn't think my kids were prepared not to have a mom on top of everything else.
KING: How old are you, Linda?
KING: Too young to...
TRIPP: Yes. Yes.
KING: So the chemotherapy obviously worked, in that it was terrible, but it's arrested now, right?
KING: But they say you still have it, that means it could show up again? Do you live in daily fear?
TRIPP: No. I should probably, but no. I think what it is, you live with a sense of be so thankful for today, Because you don't know what tomorrow will bring. And any kind of cancer, I mean, the word cancer itself, I wish they called it anything, bogus or something...
KING: Bad word.
TRIPP: But the word cancer just instills terror in people. So the notion that, yes, you have it, and now it's gone isn't really true. It's more or less, it's held in abeyance, and if it comes back...
KING: How often are you checked?
TRIPP: I think you're supposed to be checked like every three months or something like that.
KING: Do you do that?
KING: Are you afraid to go in?
TRIPP: I don't love it.
KING: Is the checkup, I mean is it painful?
KING: You just don't want to know?
TRIPP: It's just kind of the thing where, I would say to anyone watching, do not, do not deny the notion that you may have something that needs to be taken care of. Early detection is everything in cancer.
KING: Do you feel good?
TRIPP: I feel great.
KING: You've had some work done didn't you, plastic work done?
TRIPP: I did. I had my eyes done and some other things done. But I'm unfortunately not allowed to talk about it because the California Medical Board is investigating the physician who did the work.
KING: No kidding.
Are you happy with the work?
You should be.
TRIPP: I'm happy with the second doctor's work. KING: The second doctor had to correct the first doctor?
KING: And they're investigating the first doctor?
KING: Linda Tripp finally got her pension fund. We'll include your calls and we'll meet her daughter later, too. Linda Tripp is our special guest.
KING: We're back with Linda Tripp. We will be including phone calls. By the way, did you go through any of the, why me?
TRIPP: You know, it was almost why not me? Having seen it so much with my sister. It was finally -- it finally got us, you know.
KING: We announced at the beginning of the program that we're going to make an announcement tonight. And since the host is always the last to know, what is the announcement?
TRIPP: I'm engaged, to my childhood sweetheart, who, I'm sure, is watching this right now.
KING: Your childhood sweetheart?
KING: Who you went together in high school?
TRIPP: No, we were 10 years old when we met. Yeah.
KING: And you drifted other ways? Is that him?
TRIPP: Where? Yes.
KING: Wow. And he is who?
TRIPP: His name is Dieter, and he actually...
KING: Dieter's his first name?
TRIPP: Oh, look, there's the shop. My goodness.
KING: This is the shop you own?
TRIPP: It's his shop, actually. But it's a family business. I help.
KING: This is the Christmas Sleigh Shop in Middleburg, Virginia?
TRIPP: Yes, it is.
KING: And his full name is what?
TRIPP: Dieter Rausch. And he's a wonderful man. And he was a wonderful child. And he was my first kiss, actually. We met in 1961.
KING: And you're getting married when?
TRIPP: In early spring.
KING: How did you meet again?
TRIPP: Well, he had stayed in touch with my family over the years. He had lived next to my grandmother, who lived in Germany. So we saw each other summers. And we had saved each other's letters over the years. And he had made me a little box when he was 10 years old, where he had collected shells in Italy and glued them to the box. And that was to hold all his letters in.
KING: No kidding?
TRIPP: And I still have them.
KING: So you got married, did he get married?
TRIPP: He was married briefly in his 40s. It didn't work out. And we found each other again three years ago.
KING: In Middleburg?
TRIPP: In Germany.
KING: In Germany and now -- and then he moved to -- you moved to Middleburg, he moved to Middleburg, too?
TRIPP: He has since moved to Middleburg, yes.
KING: How do your kids get along with him?
TRIPP: Allison is very close to him. Ryan isn't living locally, so he sees him less frequently. But I think they both like him.
KING: Is he concerned vis-a-vis the cancer? It's something you have to think about as you approach marriage.
TRIPP: He was so incredible when we had the diagnosis. Immediately his reaction was, we'll get through this. We'll get through it together.
KING: What was his reaction when your name was on front page headlines in Lewinsky and Clinton and tapings? How did he handle all that, being apart from you?
TRIPP: Apparently he had phoned my mother several times saying that did I have someone with whom I could really speak and unload? And did I have a shoulder and that kind of thing?
KING: He was supportive then? TRIPP: He was very supportive. He knew that the betrayal issue was impossible, essentially.
KING: You're excited?
TRIPP: About him?
KING: About getting married to a 10-year-old -- he was 10 years old when you first kissed, you're getting married, that's a great story.
TRIPP: Oh, we didn't kiss until I was 14. But yes, we started being together when I was 10.
KING: He owns -- is his profession a shop owner?
TRIPP: No, his profession actually is an architect. He owned his own business in Germany for 30 years as an architect, and a building developer.
KING: The tabloids have been hunting for this, and you reveal it here?
TRIPP: Yes. Yes.
KING: OK. Congratulations.
TRIPP: Thank you.
KING: All right, Linda, tell me about this Pentagon officials, and what did you want, what did you get, what happened?
TRIPP: It was a moral victory. It was not a financial victory. If you've had lawyers, you know -- I had the -- literally the top plaintiff's attorney law firm in the country for (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: What were you suing for?
TRIPP: For the illegal leak of raw data information from my security file.
KING: So you weren't asking for past pay?
TRIPP: No, no, what we were asking for was...
KING: Because you were kept on the payroll, right?
TRIPP: No, no. No.
KING: No? You were dropped?
TRIPP: It was essentially a restitution. But more than that, they conceded liability. The Defense Department was forced to concede liability and admit that there had been wrongdoing. The interesting thing is that this was done in the Clinton White House. The leakers -- and remember, the Privacy Act became the Privacy Act in 1974, because of illegal leaking in Nixon. Those people went to jail. My leakers in the Clinton White House were rewarded and promoted and didn't do jail time.
KING: And they leaked things like your information on your application forms? That you had not reported a teenage arrest for larceny on a security application?
TRIPP: Which was ridiculous. It was completely ridiculous. As a matter of fact, Larry, I'd had a security clearance for over 20 years, top-secret. I had worked for Delta Force and I had worked for the White House. You can imagine that had there been...
KING: So how is the -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
TRIPP: Well, had there been any teenage, true teenage problem, this would have surfaced. As a matter of fact, I had discussed this incident, which was a prank played on me, by teenage kids, with the FBI agents at the White House when I first went to the White House.
KING: So you won a moral victory. What did they say? You win what?
TRIPP: They conceded that the Department of Defense had released this information illegally, and with willful intent to undermine me.
TRIPP: Essentially, no. Had I continued to work, I would have made far more than any settlement, and I had attorneys for four years fighting this.
KING: How do you react to this editorial in "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette?"
TRIPP: Oh, God.
KING: "As a matter of common sense, Ms. Tripp's offended privacy comes nowhere near the scale of Monica Lewinsky's broken privacy, which was shredded by Ms. Tripp. Hypocrisy lurks here and it pays well." Apparently assuming you got some money. Bad news indeed. How do you respond?
TRIPP: Where is the expectation of privacy in the commission of a crime? In other words, had I not documented the evidence -- remember, I knew Monica Lewinsky for a year and a half in my life. Didn't start to document evidence until eight weeks prior to having to testify in court about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. So where is the expectation of her privacy? I told her I would not fix a court case. I would not help fix a court case. Yet I knew the president of the United States and Monica were intending to do that.
I've never met Paula Jones. I do know, though, that the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, said that she had the right to sue a sitting president.
KING: So you don't think they're comparable at all? They're invading your privacy, you're invading hers?
TRIPP: I didn't leak illegal information about Monica Lewinsky. And I gave her fair warning from the beginning that I would not lie for her under oath, nor would I lie for him.
KING: The other key is, do you ever regret what you did?
TRIPP: No, I would do it again.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Linda Tripp. We'll include your phone calls. We're going to meet her daughter later. Her life has completely changed. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRIPP: I understand that there's been a great deal of speculation about just who I am and how I got here. Well, the answer is simple. I'm you. I'm just like you. I'm an average American who found herself in a situation not of her own making. I am a suburban mom who was a military wife for 20 years, and a faithful government employee for 18 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONICA LEWINSKY: I know this is so stupid, but Linda, I don't know why I have these feelings for him. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I don't really have these feelings. Maybe I'm pretending it. I don't know. But I think when I tell you that I -- I never expected to feel this way about him. And I'm not kidding you.
TRIPP: You protect him. You know, every inch of the way.
LEWINSKY: I never -- the first time I ever looked into his eyes close up, and was with him alone, I saw somebody totally different than I had expected to see. And that's the person I fell in love with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, considering the settlement, we contacted both the Pentagon and the Justice Department about Linda reaching a settlement, and both declined any comment. Your attorney said, though, you do get a one-time payment of more than $595,000, retroactive promotion, retroactive pay at the highest salary for 1998, 1999 and 2000. You're cleared to apply to work for the federal government again. And you remain part of a class lawsuit.
TRIPP: Right. It all sounds really good.
KING: Yes, it does.
TRIPP: And on paper it sounds terrific. The reality is that I had Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, the premier whistle-blower law firm in the country, defending me for four years. You can imagine...
KING: What that cost.
TRIPP: ... the legal bills. That amount doesn't even begin to touch the legal bills.
KING: So you didn't make any money out of that $595,000?
TRIPP: I made less than had I continued to work. The promotions they gave me were retroactive, yes, but they were only on paper. They weren't financial promotions.
KING: I see.
TRIPP: The outstanding performance evaluations they gave me, which reflected the same that I had had for a 22-year career, were also only on paper. So as I said, it was a moral victory, but it was not a financial victory.
KING: Do you get a pension?
TRIPP: I get a reduced pension, but the good thing is, in this settlement, I'm entitled to go back to work for the federal government, and I will do so.
KING: You want to do so?
KING: Because of this administration or because of...?
TRIPP: No. Because I had ...
KING: You miss working?
TRIPP: Well, it was a 22-year successful career. And I enjoyed it. And I had always intended to work for 30 years. And I'm going to work for my full retirement.
KING: You also have a foundation?
TRIPP: I do.
KING: What is it called?
TRIPP: I've been named executive director of the Integrity and Accountability in Government Foundation. It's bipartisan. It's a 501-C-3 tax exempt foundation.
KING: What does it do?
TRIPP: It is designed to educate and inform the public, and to essentially help whistle-blowers.
I had nowhere to go. I had evidence of corruption and abuse in office that was nothing -- you know, the public thinks it was about Lewinsky. That was sort of like getting Al Capone on tax evasion. There was so much that I had witnessed and I had nowhere to go.
KING: But why do you think it is this is true, Enron case and others, it's Republicans and Democrats, they've all had both affected by it, that people don't like, what's the term, snitches?
TRIPP: The term whistle-blower has a negative connotation. It means, inherently it means to most people...
KING: To tell on someone?
TRIPP: ... a tattletale. A non-team player. My position has always been, whose team? You know, it's interesting, the first President Bush for whom I worked had signed an executive order, and I don't have it here in front of me, but in that executive order it said -- and this was a law of the land during Clinton as it is now during this presidency -- that we, federal employees, shall report evidence of corruption and abuse. It was our duty to do so.
I think the country needed to know the arrogance, the reckless arrogance that was going on in the Oval Office.
KING: Do you think it was a duty -- as we've asked this before, to tape a friend?
TRIPP: First of all, documenting the evidence was something that happened long after I knew Monica Lewinsky, and after she was informed repeatedly that I would not help President Clinton fix a court case.
KING: What do you make of her now when you hear about her?
TRIPP: You know, I don't have a television.
KING: You don't have a television?
TRIPP: I haven't had one in five years. So I really don't see too much of what Monica's doing. I wish her well, but I feel sorry for her.
KING: What do you make of the president in post-presidency? Writing a book. Hillary wrote a very successful book. The most successful book of the year by far.
TRIPP: Yeah. There's not much I can say. Except to say that...
KING: Do you bear her any ill will?
TRIPP: It's not -- it's not ill will. What I witnessed in the Clinton White House, I wish I could share with the American people. Because it was as petty as taking gifts, and it was as gross as Waco. They've managed, however, to discredit me as -- my credibility is questioned. And so anything I say is taken, you know, obviously into question. There seems to be the sense that I was a vast right-wing conspirator, yet five years later I think it should be clear, I never took a cent. I never made a cent on the notoriety. I didn't write a book. It wasn't for self-enrichment. And it never was. And it still isn't.
KING: We're going to go to break. When we come back, we'll go to your phone calls. And then in the last two segments, we'll be joined by Allison, her lovely daughter.
Our guest is Linda Tripp. She'll be married in the spring. Her legal problems with the government are over, right? Except you're in a class action suit.
KING: So you're one of many in that lawsuit. As we go to break, maybe the most famous quote delivered by a president in decades. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Linda Tripp's our guest. Before we take some calls, Linda wanted to make something clear, maybe a little bipartisan clear. You say this administration also has leak problems?
TRIPP: Well, clearly this administration has faced leak issues. The CIA leak, for instance. I think had President Bush and his administration taken a strong position against illegal leaking in the beginning, they wouldn't be facing this right now. They had the opportunity, the Justice Department opportunity had the opportunity to take a strong position. Remember, their justice department zealously defended the criminals, I say, those that broke the law, and were found to have broken the law under Clinton. Yet the Bush administration came in and defended them zealously for this many years, using taxpayer funds...
KING: Defending who?
TRIPP: The people who perpetrated the illegal leaks. Cliff Bernath and Ken Bacon in the Clinton White House.
KING: This Justice Department defended what they did on the principle...
TRIPP: They continued too defend -- I'm not sure. I question why our tax dollars would be used to defend with a team of lawyers -- we have battled a team of lawyers for four years. People who have broken the law.
KING: Why would they like leaking?
TRIPP: I think -- I think it protects self-interest. It protects each White House. And the reality is, the Privacy Act applies to every agency except the White House.
KING: They're not covered?
TRIPP: No. The very agency that caused the Privacy Act to be brought into being in the beginning.
KING: Let's take calls for Linda Tripp. And if you want to know more information on her foundation, go to lindatripp.com. It's as simple as that, lindatripp.com.
Bridgeport, West Virginia, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. I love your show...
KING: Hello, I can't hear you.
CALLER: In regards to your friendship, or -- with Monica Lewinsky, I wondered, I guess you've already answered that you don't really feel guilty about what happened to her. But I was wondering if you don't think that the reason that you set her up was just because you wanted to bring Bill Clinton down because you're a Republican?
KING: That was the thinking of those. You should respond to that, because that was the general thinking.
TRIPP: I'm not a Republican. I've never been a Republican. I worked for two administrations. I worked for the first George Bush and for Bill Clinton. And I'm a registered independent.
KING: Did you vote for Clinton?
TRIPP: No, I did not.
KING: But your design was not to bring a presidency down?
TRIPP: No. I mean, I was an army wife for 20 years. The notion that I would do something unpatriotic after spending 20 years as an army officer's wife is ludicrous, but it played well in the press. There needed to be a villain that wasn't a president trying to fix a court case.
KING: New York City, hello.
CALLER: Yes. My question is, does she feel bad at all for what this country went through for such meaningless damage because of her betrayal.
Thank you, Larry.
KING: The term meaningless might mean, so what. In other words, in the scheme of things, a president lied about an affair, so what.
TRIPP: My question is, where is the outrage?
I was outraged -- remember, the Lewinsky thing for me was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had watched corruption, abuse and illegal behavior since January of 1993, when I worked in the Oval Office for Bill Clinton. Where is the outrage when the president of the United States abuses a subordinate that way during our time, during the work day in the White House. I find that offensive. This was a mixed-up, unstable young woman. And, yes, I don't think that's something that should be swept under the carpet. I think that was unconscionable.
KING: That is a major thing?
TRIPP: I think it's major. I don't think it's meaningless.
KING: Albuquerque, hello.
CALLER: Albuquerque, New Mexico?
CALLER: Happy belated birthday.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: Linda Tripp, before this plastic surgery, did you ever feel any jealousy toward Monica Lewinsky?
TRIPP: Jealousy in what way?
CALLER: Her looks, her status as far as being with the president?
TRIPP: No, that isn't one that I experienced.
KING: That's wasn't included.
Burlington, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. I want to know why Monica Lewinsky couldn't turn right around and sue Linda Tripp under that same Privacy Act.
KING: You can sue anyone you want in this country. She could have sued her if she wants.
I don't know if -- were you covered by a Privacy Act?
TRIPP: I'm not as a person. Personally. But she's welcome to try.
KING: You could sue.
Seattle, Washington, hello. CALLER: Good evening, Larry and Linda.
CALLER: As a breast cancer survivor, I was wondering, what stage of breast cancer were you in, and did you have radiation?
TRIPP: I did. I had six weeks of radiation, and I was in stage T-2-A to be specific.
TRIPP: Second stage.
KING: And how many stages are there?
TRIPP: Not sure. I know it goes at least to four.
KING: What did radiation do?
TRIPP: Radiation is, again, another sort of deterrent. They do the chemotherapy -- they do the chemotherapy at a certain age when they think that that sort of aggressive treatment is warranted. And the radiation, I think, is more of an insurance policy.
KING: Hilton Head, South Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Larry, how are you doing?
CALLER: Good. I have a question for Linda. First of all, I'm delighted that she's feeling better. And according to the night witer newspapers, Norma Asner (ph), is wealthy friends and contributor of the Clinton, offered you helped in find a private sector job and treated you to lavish weekends at her estate. I'm wondering if you think that Hillary Clinton knew about the affair with Monica?
TRIPP: I know that Hillary Clinton knew about the affair with Monica. Yes.
KING: So you know that, in her book, she says she was surprised when he told her?
TRIPP: Right. Not only do I know that, I know that when she went on the "Today Show," and effectively changed the dialog of the entire impeachment scandal by saying, this was a vast right-wing conspiracy, that he had been...
KING: She didn't believe that?
TRIPP: ... that he had been ministering to this young girl, she knew all of that to be false.
KING: You worked in the Clinton Oval Office?
KING: You were there?
KING: What do you make of this?
What led to this weakness of an obviously extraordinarily gifted man?
You would agree with that, he is a gifted man?
TRIPP: I agree that he is brilliant. I believe his native intelligence is equal to most. I don't know what to make of it. I do know, though, that there was a lack of moral compass in that White House. There were hard-working people, don't get me wrong. But fish rots from the top, as they say. And there was a sense of the rules don't apply to us. Anything goes. The end justifies the means.
KING: Is this one of the dangers of power per se?
TRIPP: I think unchecked, yes. Unchecked, yes. However, my experience in the first Bush White House was so completely diametrically opposed to what I saw in the Clinton White House. Remember, Clinton was my generation. So I was very sad to see the Bush's leave, they were terrific. And I respected them terrifically. But the notion of a new president coming in, a young man of my generation was exciting.
KING: How supportive were your friends through all this?
TRIPP: I'm so blessed, I can't even tell you. My family and my close friends. I'm not one to have a cast of thousands around me. I've never been a networker. I keep a very sort of close-knit small group. And that's what I'm comfortable with.
KING: And they stayed with you throughout the ordeal of the Lewinsky matter and the breast cancer?
KING: Our guest is Linda Tripp. We will take a break and come back. And we're going to meet Allison, a lovely young lady, her daughter. Don't go away.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRIPP: A navy blue dress. Now, all I would say to you is, I know how you feel today, and I know why you feel the way you do today. But you have a very long life ahead of you, and I don't know what's going to happen to you. Neither do you. I don't know anything and you don't know anything. I mean, the future is a blank slate. I don't know what will happen. I would rather you had that in your possession if you need it years from now. That's all I'm going to say.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: We're back in Los Angeles with Linda Tripp. And we are now joined by her lovely daughter Allison Tripp, who is -- how old are you, Allison?
ALLISON TRIPP, LINDA TRIPP'S DAUGHTER: 23.
KING: Finish college?
A. TRIPP: Yes.
KING: What school?
A. TRIPP: Radford University.
KING: Majored in?
A. TRIPP: Economics.
KING: Working yet?
A. TRIPP: Currently I'm working at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Liquidators. It's the largest equine tack store in the country, actually.
A. TRIPP: Yes.
KING: You ride horses?
A. TRIPP: Yes.
KING: You're interested in horses?
A. TRIPP: Love them.
KING: How did you handle your mother's illness?
A. TRIPP: That was very, very difficult. I was luckily able to spend all of her treatments with her. It was...
KING: You went?
A. TRIPP: Yes. I went to the majority of them. And they took place over the summer. So although it was really tough for her, the heat, dealing with the chemo, and as we know, it was a pretty humid summer, I was able to be with her the whole time.
KING: Did you see the toenails come off?
A. TRIPP: I did see the lack thereof toenails, yes.
KING: The hair come off?
A. TRIPP: Yeah, that was pretty hard. But she was a toughy. She was a toughy. And we...
KING: What did it do to you emotionally?
A. TRIPP: It made me value her. I mean, I already valued her so much and looked up to her and admired her. But it just made me, you know, put into perspective life. And you know, I may not have her around me forever.
KING: We know about genealogy. Do you worry about yourself?
A. TRIPP: Absolutely, yes.
KING: Do you take care -- do you take exams?
A. TRIPP: I do. I do. I have yet to have a mammogram. But...
KING: But you're (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for that, right?
TRIPP: But you did have one.
A. TRIPP: Oh, yeah, I did. Didn't I?
KING: You forgot a mammogram?
A. TRIPP: When was that? Actually, that was when we went together, right?
A. TRIPP: ... to the Naval Hospital. Yeah, I did. But I think that age is actually 30 years old is when you really should start having routine mammograms. So.
KING: What do you make of your mother getting married?
A. TRIPP: I'm ecstatic for her. She's -- this is -- it's so strange to see her just so beaming. It's really wonderful.
KING: Did you know about this guy?
A. TRIPP: Yeah. Yeah. Actually...
KING: You mean you heard about him through the years?
A. TRIPP: Yeah, I heard about him, and I met him when I was much younger. And it's just wonderful. I mean, she's like a -- it's like she's starting all over.
KING: How did you tell her?
TRIPP: We didn't really have to, did we?
A. TRIPP: No. Not really. I pretty much assumed that they were a match made in heaven. And one of these days would tie the knot. So.
KING: Now, you were much younger when the whole thing, the Lewinsky thing went through, right?
A. TRIPP: Yeah, I was, what, 17?
KING: Late teens?
A. TRIPP: Yeah.
KING: How did that affect you, as a person and at school?
A. TRIPP: How did it affect me?
KING: Well, your name is Tripp. That is not a common name.
A. TRIPP: Well, that was -- yeah, kind of tough. I had to get comments here and there. Not so much at my college, though, before I went to Radford. So not so much there.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) school?
A. TRIPP: A lot of support there. In the Maryland area, when we were living in the Maryland area when this was all going on.
KING: Were you treated harshly at all?
A. TRIPP: Well, no, not too badly.
TRIPP: There were people who would make comments.
KING: I mean, wasn't your mother the snitch? You didn't run into that?
A. TRIPP: Oh, yes. Yes.
KING: How did you deal with it?
A. TRIPP: I just kind of had to, you know, take it with a grain of salt. Because everyone's entitled to their own opinion. They didn't know the full story, so, you know, you believe what you hear most of the time. And that's unfortunate.
KING: Did you ever meet Monica?
A. TRIPP: Yes, I did.
KING: Where was that, and what was it like?
A. TRIPP: It was actually -- I met her before the -- we had a Christmas party. And she came over to chat with my mom for a little bit, I guess. I don't know what about. But she was, you know -- she came across as a little flaky. Just a little flaky. And naive and young. And I was 18 at the time I think when that was happening. She might have been 22.
KING: You felt older than her?
A. TRIPP: A little bit. A little bit.
KING: When your mom had the work done and the plastic surgery, were you supportive?
A. TRIPP: Yes. Yes. I was there for her, too. It was a bit much, but...
TRIPP: She never thought it was necessary. So.
KING: Yeah, but look how great she looks.
A. TRIPP: Oh, she looks wonderful.
KING: Has she always been this supportive, Linda?
TRIPP: Oh, 100 percent all the way.
KING: This is like an angel daughter?
TRIPP: She's not necessarily an angel, but she's very supportive. And I couldn't ask for a better daughter, truly. She gets it.
KING: Let's take a call. New Lennox, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hi. Thanks for taking my call.
KING: Hi. Sure.
CALLER: Congratulations on your engagement, Linda.
TRIPP: Thank you.
CALLER: I was wondering about your son, what he's doing now and how he dealt with your cancer diagnosis?
KING: Good question. Ryan.
TRIPP: I think it was almost harder on Ryan than it was on Allison. I think everything has been harder on Ryan than it was on Allison.
KING: Is he older than you?
A. TRIPP: Yes. Yes. He's 28.
TRIPP: Because Ryan -- for Ryan, it's very hard for -- I mean, everyone has a mom. For Ryan, he was powerless to defend me. He had no voice. He had no voice during the Clinton impeachment. He wasn't interested in appearing on the cover of "GQ." He really just wanted his mom to be taken seriously. And I think with the breast cancer as well, he was sort of helpless to change it.
KING: Did he ever go with you to treatment?
TRIPP: No. No, Ryan doesn't deal well with this kind of thing.
KING: Hospitals are not his bag.
TRIPP: No, no. He's a wonderful young man. Has a great heart. But he doesn't deal as well with adversity as Allison does.
KING: You're all very close?
A. TRIPP: Yes.
KING: What does Ryan do?
A. TRIPP: He works at a mortgage firm in Baltimore, Maryland, a broker.
KING: Is he married?
A. TRIPP: No. Not yet.
TRIPP: He's single.
KING: Do you have a boyfriend?
A. TRIPP: No, I do not.
KING: You must be chased. People must be after you.
A. TRIPP: No.
TRIPP: She did have a boyfriend.
A. TRIPP: Well, yeah.
TRIPP: At the moment...
A. TRIPP: Staying clear. Staying clear.
KING: We're going to go to break, come back, take a few more phone calls for Linda Tripp. Her daughter Allison Tripp will remain with us. And as we go to break, here's Linda with -- what's his name again -- I want to get it right.
A. TRIPP: Dieter. KING: How does he spell it?
KING: Oh, Dieter?
A. TRIPP: Dieter.
KING: With (ph) the (ph) Dieter. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an order for you. Yes. How many you like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three hundred and one when these are bound.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I like that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Linda Tripp and Allison Tripp. What is this story you have, you and your fiance?
TRIPP: Dieter has a shop called the Christmas Sleigh in Middleburg, Virginia. It's a wonderful European shop. Specializes in beautiful hand-made European -- that's what makes it unique, it's all European.
KING: And you brought something tonight?
TRIPP: I did. This was actually made in Germany. But it was...
KING: An ornament?
TRIPP: Designed by me. And it depicts the first White House in 1800. It's a limited edition. And the proceeds go to kids with cancer.
KING: In the back it says, "The President's House, 1800." They didn't call it the White House?
TRIPP: No, they didn't call it the White House. And it was inspired by something John Adams...
TRIPP: ... wrote to his wife Abigail on his second night in the White House. It was not a wonderful Christmas for him. And it -- what he wrote to her was, and that's what inspired this ornament, "I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." And that was sort of the inspiration for this ornament.
KING: It is beautiful. It will be up on the King tree.
KING: To Toronto, hello.
KING: Toronto, yes, go ahead.
CALLER: Hi. I love your show, Larry.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: If I understood Linda earlier on, she mentioned that since 1993, there had been things going on in the White House. Could she have not brought something out before the Clinton-Lewinsky affair?
TRIPP: That's a very good question. And I ask you once again to put yourself in any civil servant's shoes. Because as a federal civil servant, if you're witnessing abuse and corruption, particularly in the White House, where do you go? That's the nexus for the Integrity and Accountability in Government Foundation of which I'm executive director. Now, there is a place for people to go. I had nowhere to go.
KING: And the White House is not covered?
TRIPP: They are not covered by the Privacy Act. They need -- people need help.
KING: And you can get more information at Lindatripp.com.
Vancouver, British Columbia, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Happy belated birthday.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: Hi, Linda.
CALLER: I was wondering, was your life ever threatened for revealing the truth about the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair?
TRIPP: Yes, repeatedly. And in fact, threats were made on the lives of my children as well.
KING: You received a threat, Allison?
A. TRIPP: It was actually left on my father's answering machine.
KING: A threat of harming you?
A. TRIPP: Yeah. Yes.
KING: Did you report it?
A. TRIPP: I don't know.
KING: Did you?
TRIPP: I believe, I believe her father did, yes.
KING: Freehall, New Jersey, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Hi, Linda.
CALLER: You are a hero for telling the truth. And I wanted to ask you, how do you deal with all this anger that people have towards you? You're remarkable.
TRIPP: Thank you. What I've always told my kids, and Allison can confirm this, is actions speak louder than words. My actions over the last five years should be pretty clear evidence that this was not about self-enrichment, political gain, partisan interest. It was about good government. It was about right and wrong. And so I've had this steady belief over time that people would come to understand this, particularly in light of what happened post-Monica Lewinsky in the Clinton White House.
KING: We only have a minute. Do you think history's going to vindicate you?
TRIPP: I think history will see things through a prism that will make it easier to understand that it wasn't black and white. It wasn't Linda Tripp betrayer, Bill Clinton victim. Instead, it was a president who was fixing a court case.
KING: Good luck in the nuptials.
TRIPP: Thank you.
KING: Good luck with the health.
TRIPP: Thank you so much.
KING: When do you go for your next checkup?
TRIPP: Soon. Three weeks.
KING: Don't put it off.
TRIPP: I will not.
A. TRIPP: I won't let her.
KING: Stay healthy.
TRIPP: Thank you.
A. TRIPP: Thank you.
KING: Thank you, Allison.
TRIPP: Thank you for having us.
KING: Our guests have been Linda Tripp for most of the hour, and in the last moments, her daughter, Allison Tripp. For more information on the Integrity Foundation, it's LindaTripp.com. And Linda is now officially engaged, and will be marrying in the spring.
And I'll be back and tell you about tomorrow night's program right after this.
KING: Tomorrow night, we'll meet "The Bachelorette." Yes, Trista, and her new husband, Ryan, of "The Bachelorette" fame. Trista and Ryan tomorrow night.
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