A couple of years ago, as the 20th anniversary of Bill Clinton’s impeachment approached and the #MeToo moment was in full force, I found myself driving to Middleburg, Virginia, an hour outside of Washington, D.C. It was there that Linda Tripp, one of the most controversial players in modern political history, was living out a second act as a shopkeeper at her husband’s year-round Christmas store.
Tripp (who died earlier this year) told me she was not eager to revisit her actions—namely, betraying the confidence of her young friend at the time, Monica Lewinsky. She still saw herself as a whistleblower, a civil servant who at the time felt morally obligated to call out an abuse of power by the president, a man she believed had “abused, used, and discarded” the 24-year-old Lewinsky. Were it not for Tripp, and the details she revealed, it surely would have been almost impossible to bring impeachment charges against Clinton. For years afterward, Democrats vilified Tripp for her behavior.