WASHINGTON -- Linda Tripp, whose tape recordings triggered the Monica Lewinsky scandal, says she considered it her "patriotic duty" to expose a relationship in which President Clinton "abused, used, discarded" the former White House intern.

People think the relationship was "consensual and that I inserted myself somehow" but "it was not," Tripp said in an interview aired today on NBC's "Today" show."The public has no clue . . . absolutely no idea what Monica endured . . . the histrionics, the hysteria, the throwing of lamps, the damage to herself," and Clinton "emotionally abused Monica," Tripp asserted. "She threatened suicide on more than one occasion."

Tripp said she felt Lewinsky was passing along "threats" from President Clinton that Tripp should lie in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.

"There were threats," said Tripp. "Did I take them seriously? Absolutely. Threats to my life. Threats to the lives of my children. Monica made those threats and passed them along to me, I believed from the president. I believed I was in jeopardy. Be a team player, or else." She said the message she got was that if she didn't protect the president by lying, "You will lose your job and worse."

Regarding alleged threats, White House spokesman Jim Kennedy said "any such bizarre suggestion is ludicrous."

Tripp denied the role Clinton supporters have attributed to her as a provocateur who actively tried to foment the scandal.