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Clinton lawyer gets chance to grill Tripp

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WASHINGTON -- For the first time since Linda Tripp's secret tape recording sparked an impeachment crisis, a lawyer for President Clinton and his wife interrogated the Pentagon worker and launched a wide-ranging attack on her motives and credibility.

During a civil deposition this week unrelated to the president's trial, Clinton lawyer Paul Gaffney got Tripp to acknowledge she was "not complete under oath" in 1995 congressional testimony and that another time she was untruthful in a taped conversation with book agent Lucianne Goldberg.Tripp frequently clashed with Gaffney, at one point even suggesting that Hillary Rodham Clinton was behind an ongoing investigation into whether Tripp had violated Maryland's wiretap laws by recording Monica Lewinsky.

"Have you been given any indication by Maryland authorities that they cleared you of any criminal wrongdoing?" Gaffney asked.

"Oh, certainly not," Tripp retorted. "Mrs. Clinton hasn't allowed them to do that yet."

The testimony came in a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has sued the Clinton administration over the White House's gathering of hundreds of FBI background files of Republican appointees. Hillary Clinton is a defendant in the lawsuit. Tripp is a witness because she worked in the White House counsel's office at the time the files were gathered.

While Clinton's impeachment trial didn't come up, his lawyers could display snippets of Tripp's videotaped testimony later in the trial if they get permission from senators to bring in outside evidence. Presidential lawyer David Kendall declined comment Friday on that possibility.

Gaffney repeatedly asked questions that touched on Tripp's secret tape-recorded phone calls of Lewinsky.

"What will you say for the record?" Gaffney pressed.

"That I don't acknowledge the existence of tapes," Tripp replied.

"You don't acknowledge the existence of tapes you may have made?" Gaffney asked.

"No," Tripp replied.