Clinton Whistleblower Linda Tripp Dies: A Look at the Woman Who Helped Changed Political History
Here's what to know about the whistleblower-turned-Christmas shop owner
Linda Tripp Rausch, the Pentagon worker who made tapes of Monica Lewinsky detailing her relationship with President Bill Clinton, died on Wednesday at age 70. She is survived by husband Dieter Rausch, son Ryan and daughter Allison and her grandchildren — and a legacy that re-shaped American political history.
While Linda is best known for her role in the 1998 scandal, she created a new life for herself after she was dismissed from her job as a political appointee in the Pentagon in 2001.
PEOPLE confirmed Linda’s death on Wednesday.
Joseph Murtha, an attorney who had previously worked with Linda, said, “sadly, Linda did pass away today,” though he could not provide more information.
“My mommy is leaving this earth. I don’t know myself if I can survive this heartache,” Linda’s daughter Allison Tripp Foley wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post, per the New York Post. “Please pray for a painless process for the strongest woman I will ever know in my entire lifetime.”
Here’s what to know about Linda’s time in Washington, D.C., and after.
Involvement in the Lewinsky scandal
Linda secretly recorded conversations with Lewinsky without the former White House intern’s knowledge and went on to share those recordings with independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who was investigating Clinton.
That decision thrust her into the spotlight, where she was alternately celebrated and reviled — contending with criticism that she had manipulated the much younger Lewinsky for her own selfish reasons, given her previous work on a Clinton tell-all and ties to the Bush administration.
But she insisted she was acting out of moral obligation.
“I couldn’t believe — could he [Clinton] be that reckless?” she told ABC News in 2001. “Could he be that arrogantly reckless to philander with a child? I was reeling from the horror of it all.”
“I think the country needed to know,” Linda told Larry King in 2003. “The arrogance — the reckless arrogance that was going on in the Oval Office.”
When King pressed her on the secret recordings of someone who considered her a friend, Linda said, “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 the court case.”
Relationship with Lewinsky
Linda has denied that she and Lewinsky were friends, despite the intimate details Lewinsky shared with her and their hours and hours of private conversations.
“It wasn’t a friendship,” Linda previously told Fox News. “I wasn’t her mother on any level [but] her mother was absent.”
“I wish her well, but I feel sorry for her,” Linda told King in the 2003 interview.
When asked if she had anything to add during her testimony in front of a grand jury, Lewinsky said, “I’m really sorry for everything that’s happened. And I hate Linda Tripp,” according to the Washington Post.
Upon hearing of Linda’s illness on Wednesday, Lewinsky shared well wishes for her former confidante.
“no matter the past, upon hearing that linda tripp is very seriously ill, i hope for her recovery,” Lewinsky shared on Twitter Wednesday. “i can’t imagine how difficult this is for her family.”
Life after politics
After her dismissal from the Pentagon on the last day of Clinton’s administration, Linda married Dieter Rausch in 2004, and the couple settled in Middleburg, Virginia, which is outside D.C.
Linda told Page Six in 2017 that life on her farm there was “paradise with complete autonomy and privacy.”
“And that’s how I like it,” she added to the outlet at the time.
Linda and her husband also operated a Christmas store called the Christmas Sleigh.
Linda divorced her first husband, Bruce Tripp, in 1991.
13 years later, she married Dieter, who she first met as a child while visiting Germany with her family, according to a Middleburg Life profile. The pair stayed in touch into adulthood, reuniting when Linda invited Dieter to visit her new home in Virginia in 2000.
After that visit, Dieter decided to move in with Linda, and the pair were married in 2004.