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THE CLINTON INVESTIGATION | LINDA TRIPP

'Monica Always Made Excuses for' President's Behavior Toward Her

October 03, 1998

These are excerpts from the grand jury testimony of Pentagon employee Linda Tripp.

Q: We talked yesterday about Betty Currie being in what you called an "interference mode." Is that correct?

A: As a facilitator.

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Q: OK. If you would explain to the grand jury how Monica would react to this interference mode that Betty would be in and how that would have an effect--what effect that would have on Monica.

A: I guess to give you the bigger picture of how this evolved--and I don't know if this is what you want me to do. When Monica was at the White House, she developed a relationship with Betty. It was a cordial relationship. I believe they even socialized on more than one occasion with Walter Kay, who had been the gentleman who sponsored Monica's internship. So there had been a dialogue already.

When Monica left the White House, Betty was the person to whom she turned for contact with the president, but for the most part it was--in fact it was not ever addressed what the nature--at that point what the nature of the relationship was. It was implied but it was never said in so many words.

So Monica did speak to Betty very, very frequently. Betty was, as always, warm and cordial, took Monica's calls routinely, and acted as the facilitator.

As time went on--now we're after the election and Monica expects to go back to the White House--her repeated attempts to get back to the White House and to see the president more frequently met with increased resistance from Betty, and not in a direct way, it was a way . . . what caused the frustration, in my mind, was that Betty would say, "I'll get it right in to him. Yes, I--"

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Q: When she said, "I'll get it right in to him," what was she referring to?

A: Oh, Monica sent many things over--letters, gifts, phone messages, this kind of thing. And then wouldn't do it and wouldn't do it in a way that Monica thought was fast enough. And it was because Monica--Monica would send a letter, and it would say in the letter--since she couldn't call the president directly ever, she would send a letter and say, "I really need to see you tonight," or tomorrow night, or whatever it was, "and I need to speak to you. Please let me know which of those two days will work, "or whatever. "I'm waiting."

Then she would go get her hair done, buy a new outfit, have everything ready. And Betty would, in turn, say, "I have it. I'll get it in to him today or tomorrow. Actually, there is this block or that block of time available." And then nothing would happen. She would hear nothing.

So she would page Betty repeatedly. Betty would generally ignore them until it got threatening.

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Q: When you say "threatening," what do you mean?

A: Well, it all escalated and became more contentious as each month passed and Monica was getting pushed aside that much more.

So it depended. I mean, there were messages that were threatening. "Drop dead," you know, that kind of thing, which I guess I can talk about later.

But the reality is that Monica felt at times that Betty was her friend because Betty was helping her, and her biggest obstacle, because in Monica's mind it wasn't the president who was putting her off, it was Betty who was running interference, independent of the president.

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Q: Now, when Monica would get more and more agitated because of the response of Betty Currie, what would Betty's response to Monica's agitation be?

A: Oh, all the same, always, generally always. There was one or two--an exception or two.

Generally she would say, "Oh, no, no, no, no." In fact, Monica had it down to an imitation that sounded exactly like Betty because it was repeated so many times, "No, no, no, no, no. Oh, you mustn't say that. Oh, I'm sure that's not true. "I'm sure it's just that he's too busy right now. Of course he wants to see you." this kind of--it was very placating and, "I'm sure you really don't mean that. Oh, please don't say that kind of thing." Always.

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Q: And just to make it clear, you have this knowledge because Monica told you this stuff.

A: Not only.

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Q: OK. Because you had actually heard Betty on the phone those couple times.

A: Yes. . . .

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Q: And then also just to be clear, we're talking as a general matter, and you intend to give more specific examples later on in your testimony. Is that correct?

A: Oh, yeah.

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Q: OK. When Betty would actually arrange a contact between the president and Monica Lewinsky, how long would the contact usually last?

A: Meaning when she did get in?

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Q: Yes.

A: The shortest visit was 60 seconds, in Monica's words, and the--I would say they ran--from anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half.

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Q: OK. And where would those visits occur?

A: They only ever occurred in the study.

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Q: When you say "the study," you mean the small room that's off the Oval Office in the White House?

A: Well, yes, it's between the Oval Office and the president's dining room.

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Juror: When she did get to see the president, did she ever ask him or talk to him about the fact that she felt Betty was in an interference mode?

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