The pretrial hearing on the State of Maryland’s wire taping charges against Linda Tripp got underway Monday. The prosecution that most legal experts see as little more than a political vendetta against Mrs. Tripp rests on the question of when Mrs. Tripp’s immunity began.
Attorneys for the Office of Independent Counsel and Mrs.Tripp, contend the federal immunity took effect on January 16, 1998, when the Office of Independent Counsel gave her a letter of immunity and subpoenaed her tapes of her conversations with Monica Lewinsky. The Maryland prosecutor is trying to claim the immunity did not take effect until February 19, 1998, when a federal judge officially ordered it.
It is now clear that Howard County Circuit Judge Diane Leasure bowed to intense political pressure and allowed the prosecution. No immunity was granted and the case will now go to trial. The matter was only brought against Mrs.Tripp as a result of intense political pressure by Democrats who are angry that Mrs.Tripp exposed Bill Clinton’s perjury and obstruction of justice in the Paula Jones case.
In an attempt to make a case that there is a legal basis for allowing the prosecution to go forward, Maryland prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli subpoenaed everyone he could think of, including five investigators from the OIC and Mrs. Lucianne Goldberg. He may also bring Monica Lewinsky in to testify.
When reached at home by phone, Mrs. Goldberg was as charming and forthright as always. Asked if there was anything new she could add to the trial, Mrs. Goldberg laughed and said, “No, everything I know is already out. The media covered it inside and out.”
Mrs. Goldberg is the lady who originally told Monica she needed to tape her conversations with Lewinsky in order to protect herself. At the time, Mrs. Goldberg was a very successful publishing agent. Since the scandal broke, she has become a talk show personality and a successful web page operator. Lucianne.com is one of the fastest growing conservative sites on the Internet.
Asked why she thought Montanarelli subpoenaed her, Mrs. Goldberg rasped, “I’m beyond trying to second-guess what any of those people do. Who knows what he expects to learn.”
Asked if she thought her subpoena was an attempt to inconvenience her because of her prominent role in exposing Clinton’s crimes Mrs. Goldberg refused to speculate on any motive. “I really don’t know what is going through their minds. ” She said. “The whole thing is a circus. There are uplink trucks all over the parking lot down there. The media is swarming all over the building. I just don’t get it. I can’t imagine they really want this back in the news now, especially Hillary, and my sources say she is the one who started the political pressure to go after Linda.”
The political pressure to go after Mrs. Tripp was intense. It included letters and phone calls from Democrats all over the state including elected officials and political operatives all bent on making Mrs. Tripp pay for exposing the presidents crimes.
Jackie Bennett, a former OIC prosecutor, testified that he got a call from Howard County States Attorney Marna McLendon on January 26, 1998, “she indicated that she was receiving pressure that was becoming unbearable to her. There was a political campaign to put pressure on” her office to go after Mrs. Tripp.
Lawyers for Linda R. Tripp, expressed shock and outrage at a letter they received from a Maryland elected official in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request they submitted trying to determine the extent of the political pressure exerted to bring charges against Mrs. Tripp.
In September of this year, one of Mrs. Tripp’s attorneys, Stephen M. Kohn of Washington’s Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, sent FOIA requests to all 49 members of the Maryland House of Delegates who had signed a January 30, 1998 letter to Howard County (Maryland) State’s Attorney Marna McClendon, demanding that McClendon initiate an investigation of Mrs. Tripp.
The letter was a clear attempt to bring political pressure on the prosecutor to go after Mrs. Tripp. The lawmakers, were all Democrats who were upset that Mrs. Tripp exposed Bill Clinton’s crimes. They wanted retribution for her turning over evidence of those crimes to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
One Maryland Delegate, Dana Lee Dembrow (D-Montgomery County) responded to Kohn’s Freedom of Information request with the following letter:
THE LETTER FROM DEMBROW TO LINDA TRIPP’S ATTORNEY
20th Legislative District
District Office (301) 890-0225
Annapolis Office (301) 838-3045
Re: Linda Tripp – Public Information Act Request
Dear Mr. Kohn:
This correspondence is in response to your Public Information Act Request dated September 10, 1999. Please accept my condolences on your representation of such a pathetic and deceitful person as Ms. Tripp, who has done such damage to her country as a result of her betrayal of a gullible friend, much of which was in deliberate violation of Maryland Privacy laws and for which we certainly hope that she is ultimately held accountable.
We do not consent to your request that “all fees be waived” and your assertion that the information you request will contribute to public interest is fraudulent, as your unnecessary and impertinent request is evidently deliberately calculated to be burdensome, unduly broad and designed to derive misleading conclusions to your clients’ benefit, and the public detriment.
In specific response to your request, please be advised that the undersigned authored at least two guest columns urging the prosecution of your client, one dated January 25, 1998, which we do not believe was published, and another published by the Montgomery Journal on November 30, 1998. Copies are enclosed. We also directed formal correspondence to the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno, urging her to call off the investigation of the President of the United States as enlarged by Mr. Starr as Special Prosecutor with virtually unlimited authority of harassment of American Citizens in his Whitewater investigation. We have also mailed to Mr. Starr a pair of extra large white mesh underwear, as he so obviously enjoys probing the private consensual adult sexual activity of his countrymen. We do not have a copy to send to you or they would certainly be enclosed.
Dana Lee Dembrow
cc: Robert Zarnoch, Esq., Office of the Attorney General of Maryland
This letter would be remarkable even coming from an underworld thug. From an elected official it is almost beyond belief. The flagrant disrespect for the rule of law exhibited in this letter is on a par with the disrespect for the law shown by the Senate when they ignored the evidence and acquitted Clinton in what they laughingly called a trial. In a press release about the letter attorney Joseph Murtha, who is representing Tripp in the Maryland criminal proceeding, described Freedom of Information Act requests as “a normal and very valuable means of obtaining relevant information. Such requests are, he said, “absolutely appropriate, and a vital protection for all American citizens.” The letter from Dembrow, a member of Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee, shows the regard Maryland Democrats have for the rule of law and the cherished presumption of innocence. It also puts to rest any question that the prosecution of Mrs. Tripp is a vindictive political vendetta. The letter is further proof that the Democrat oligarchy that runs Maryland is disdainful of the rights free citizens are supposed to enjoy in America.
Linda Tripp is a courageous lady who suffered a great deal for exposing some of the crimes committed by the most corrupt president in the history of the republic. The political hacks in Maryland are determined to see that she suffers more. This trial is a travesty. The freedom loving people of the nation should rally to Mrs. Tripp’s defense. If she can suffer this treatment for exposing crimes, no citizen is safe from persecution at the hands of the political class.