Washington Linda Tripp, the tell-all confidante of Monica Lewinsky who nearly toppled a president, was fired Friday from her Pentagon job after she refused to resign her political appointment, a customary step to clear the decks for a new administration.
About 3,000 political appointees throughout the federal government will lose their jobs as of noon today. But Tripp said through her attorneys Friday that she considers herself a White House victim who should keep her $98,744 position in the Defense Department's public affairs office.
"The termination of Linda Tripp is vindictive, mean-spirited and wrong," her lawyers asserted. They have filed a federal lawsuit portraying Tripp as a whistle-blower who was punished for reporting Clinton's dalliance with Lewinsky and earlier examples of what she considered White House misconduct.
Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said the notice given to Tripp was the same as a letter given to hundreds of political appointees in the Defense Department. "When we have a new president, then all of their service ends," the Pentagon spokesman said. "This is something that happens every four years."
Tripp's attorneys said she was unavailable for comment. They contended that she should be in a protected civil service job but was forced to take the Pentagon job, with its political classification, against her will.
Tripp became an icon in popular culture, a symbol of ungainliness and betrayal, after handing 20 hours of secretly taped recordings of conversations with Lewinsky to independent counsel Kenneth Starr. On those tapes, investigators heard Lewinsky confide a sexual relationship with the president.
In her book, "Monica's Story," written with biographer Andrew Morton, Lewinsky recalled her feelings when she discovered that her friend had recorded the intimacies she had shared over the phone: "I wanted to hurt her. I felt like an animal wanting to claw at her skin."
Tripp described herself as "an average American" who had been "vilified for taking the path of truth." But polls showed that only one American in 10 viewed her favorably.