Whatever Happened To Linda Tripp?

In the late '90s, former White House employee Linda Tripp found herself at the center of a media firestorm after it was discovered that she had secretly recorded conversations with then-President Bill Clinton's mistress, White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Tripp handed those recordings over to Kenneth Starr, the man investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater scandal. 

Tripp's tapes played a key role in President Clinton's eventual impeachment, but Tripp endured intense media scrutiny for her role in the debacle. She even became the brunt of infamous impersonations on Saturday Night Live. Like many of the key players involved in the misconduct allegations aimed at President Clinton, Tripp largely disappeared from the spotlight, and remained out of the public eye until her death in April 2020. According to NPR, there was no reported cause of death, "but news reports indicated she endured a brief case of pancreatic cancer."

So, what happened to her between the Clinton scandal and her death? Let's just say that Linda Tripp's life has not been easy, but she always stood her ground.

Linda Tripp battled breast cancer

In December 2003, Tripp spoke publicly for the first time about her battle with breast cancer. "I had a lumpectomy," she told CNN's Larry King. "And had eight rounds of chemotherapy, which is pretty debilitating." Tripp revealed that she lost her hair during treatments, and her nail beds fell off. 

Tripp said her reaction to the diagnosis in 2001 was "terror, sheer terror." She said, "The terror was emotionally difficult because I was so afraid ... 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. I didn't think my kids were prepared not to have a mom on top of everything else."

Seeing their mom fat-shamed 'shattered' her kids

Also in her interview with Larry King, Linda Tripp opened up about her decision to get plastic surgery, which she said was fueled by scrutiny from the press during the Clinton scandal and by comedian John Goodman's unflattering impression of her on Saturday Night Live. "I was so shattered for my children," she said. "Kids are so sensitive about their parents anyway. And my kids always thought I was pretty. And they were so completely shattered ... I just felt so badly for them. I just wanted to fix it."

"I think you steel yourself and you steel yourself to say this doesn't matter to me," she said. "I was never one to preen anyway. I was never one to really think a whole lot about that. I thought I looked fine." She added, "But yeah, when I saw the pictures, I was dismayed as well. But remember, when the country met me, it was five years, more than five years after I had really endured Clinton hell, and I internalized in such a way that I ate my way into oblivion to sort of cope."

Linda Tripp sued the government

In November 2003, Linda Tripp settled a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense in which she accused the Pentagon of releasing confidential information about her past criminal record to The New Yorker magazine. According to USA Today, she was awarded $595,000 as part of the settlement. "The government should never be permitted to use Privacy Act protected information to discredit political opponents," she said in a statement, via CNN. "This is a long-awaited first step toward holding the government accountable."

"Today the Department of Defense has accepted liability," Tripp said. "My ultimate goal is to ensure that any sitting president be required by law to honor the Privacy Act regardless of political motive." In a subsequent interview with CNN's Larry King, Tripp referred to the settlement as a "moral victory," not a financial one.

She found love again with a childhood friend

In 2004, Tripp married architect Dieter Rausch, whom she met when she was just 10 years old. She told Larry King that Rausch was her first kiss at age 14, and the couple reunited around 2000 in Germany. Rausch — who at one point lived next door to Tripp's grandmother — helped her through her battle with breast cancer, reported Time. He later moved to Middleburg, Va. to be by her side.

Tripp's previous marriage to Army officer Bruce Tripp ended in divorce in the early '90s, according to the The Baltimore Sun. They have two children together: son Ryan and daughter Allison. In 2015, the Daily Mail reported that Tripp had seven grandchildren.

Linda Tripp opened a year-round Christmas store

When one thinks of Linda Tripp, one does not immediately think of Christmas cheer, but so goes her life after political infamy. According to the Chicago Tribune, Tripp and her husband opened a year-round Christmas store called The Christmas Sleigh around December 2002. The store sells everything from Christmas ornaments to beer steins and incense smokers, according to its website.

The store made headlines in 2014, after it received a handful of mixed reviews on Yelp. "I ordered from them and had a terrible experience," wrote one user. "Very slow, no follow-up, they lie straight to you and if something goes wrong, they offer no help, no consideration, do not reply to emails. Horrible, they have my money and I was left with nothing, would not even supply an invoice. Run!" To the store's credit: later reviews were significantly more positive.

Linda Tripp has trashed Hillary Clinton

In a rare interview published in 2015 by the Daily Mail, Linda Tripp painted a ruthless portrait of what Hillary Clinton was allegedly like during her husband's two terms in the White House in the '90s. "Hillary Clinton ruled the White House even as early as 1993, and every scandal that originated in the Clinton administration was the brainchild of Hillary," Tripp alleged. "When I think of Hillary Clinton I think of a lingering taint of scandal and wrongdoing and, in my opinion, possible criminal activity."

Tripp also dished dirt alleging that the Clintons shared a "common goal" of obtaining power and that Hillary's bid for the White House "has been planned for so many years." She added, "I think the most compelling thing about Hillary is that she will stop at nothing to achieve her end and that she views the public as plebeians easily seduced into believing her point of view."

She believes she saved Monica Lewinsky's life

Linda Tripp emerged again in January 2016 to allege that President Bill Clinton had actually had affairs with "thousands of women," telling Aaron Klein Investigative Radio that giving tapes of the phone conversations she had with Monica Lewinsky to investigator Kenneth Starr may have saved Lewinsky's life.

"I say today and I will continue to say that I believe Monica Lewinsky is alive today because of choices I made and action I took," Tripp said (via Breitbart). "That may sound melodramatic to your listeners. I can only say that from my perspective, I believe that she and I at the time were in danger, because nothing stands in the way of these people achieving their political ends."

While it's unclear how Lewinsky felt about this particular sentiment, she did offer support to Tripp in the days before Tripp's death was announced. "No matter the past, upon hearing that Linda tripp is very seriously ill, I hope for her recovery," Lewinsky tweeted, adding, "I can't imagine how difficult this is for her family."

Linda Tripp said she fell victim to a 'high-tech lynching'

Linda Tripp has kept such a low-profile over the years that when she spoke at the National Whistleblower Day about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in July 2018, The Washington Post described it as "her first public address in nearly two decades." Her only regret in the sex scandal that rocked the nation? "Not having the guts to do it sooner," she said.

"It was always about right and wrong, never left and right," Tripp said. "It was about exposing perjury and the obstruction of justice. It was never about politics." However, that came at a great cost. Tripp believes her reputation was dragged through the mud by the media while the Clintons were framed as victims. In her words, she now knows what "a real high-tech lynching feels like." She added, "There's nothing quite like it, and there's nothing that can prepare you for it." Although she believes it is "virtually impossible to get your good name back," she still believes she made the right decision. "My duty, my oath, was to the office of the presidency, not to the sitting incumbent, and I was true to that oath."

#MeToo's take on Bill Clinton didn't impress Linda Tripp

Bill Clinton's misconduct allegations were brought to light once again as the #MeToo movement gained momentum. In 2017, per Politico, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (who took Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat) said that President Clinton should have stepped down during the scandal. She wasn't not alone in that line of thinking. According to a 2018 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: "How can Democrats expect Republicans to find the will to hold Trump accountable when Democratic leaders never pushed for a thorough consideration of the allegations against Clinton?" 

For Linda Tripp, this renewed reckoning was two decades too late. "It's a day late, and it's a dollar short," she told The Weekly Standard. "What information do they have at their fingertips today that they didn't have 20 years ago? What information has changed?" Tripp felt the press was only viewing Bill Clinton through the lens of the #MeToo and Time's Up movement's for one simple reason: "They have nothing to lose, and this is now permissible," she said. "The fact that the Clintons are dead in the water gives [the media] tacit approval to act like human beings. ... It's disingenuous."

Linda Tripp did her own casting

In 2017, Variety reported that Amazon Studios secured the rights to Linda and Monica, a film about the complicated relationship between the two women at the center of the Clinton scandal. Speaking to Page Six, Linda Tripp joked, "They should check John Goodman's availability." The Big Lebowski actor played Tripp in several Saturday Night Live skits in the '90s, but in all seriousness, Tripp wanted members of the public to know that Goodman might not be the best choice anymore. "They might be surprised to see what I look like today. That hulking person no longer exists," she said. "I'm happy now and not eating myself into oblivion to relieve stress." (According to IMDb, the film has not been cast at the time of this writing.)

Tripp didn't have high hopes for historical accuracy on the screen. "It's unlikely they'll show Bill Clinton as a predator exploiting a willing young girl," she said. "She consented. She instigated. But she was a kid." Tripp also revealed that she hasn't spoken to Monica Lewinsky in years but hoped the producers "do her justice."