Declaring to her lawyer that it's easy to tell the truth, Linda Tripp is answering grand jury questions about how she secretly recorded conversations with Monica Lewinsky - and triggered the perjury-and-obstruction investigation that has shaken the presidency.
With an anxious White House following the event silently, an outwardly confident Tripp came to the federal courthouse Tuesday accompanied by her son, daughter and three lawyers.She stayed about six hours and will return Thursday, as she explains how she captured on tape Lewinsky's sensational account of a sexual relationship with President Clinton. For the jurors, Tuesday was the first chance for face-to-face scrutiny of Tripp, whose voice they had heard repeatedly on some of the 20 hours of tapes she made.
Tripp's grand jury appearance wasn't the only thing the White House had to worry about Tuesday: In Little Rock, Ark., U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright ordered unsealed most of the court filings in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton, lifting a gag order she had imposed last fall.
Wright kept her order from taking effect for 10 days to give the case's principals time to appeal. She said a transcript of Clinton's sworn deposition would be among the documents made public.
It was the Jones case that produced the disclosure of Tripp's tapings - as well as the allegations under investigation by Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr that Lewinsky, a former White House intern, engaged in a sexual affair with the president and was later encouraged to lie about it by Clinton or friends, including Vernon Jordan, in exchange for help in getting a job. Clinton and Jordan deny wrongdoing.
Summarizing Tripp's first day of testimony before the grand jury, one of her lawyers, Anthony Zaccagnini, told reporters that after she came out of the grand jury room, "She told me - and I quote - `I find it very easy to truthfully answer the questions posed to me by the prosecutors and the grand jury.' "