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Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 18:21 GMT

Monica's tell-tale tapes

The secret kiss-and-tell recordings of Monica Lewinsky that led President Bill Clinton to the brink of impeachment have been released to the public.

The BBC's Tom Carver: "Secret tapes and a Washington scandal - again"
The 37 tapes covering 22 hours of recordings made by her former friend and confidante Linda Tripp come days before independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr begins his testimony at Congress.

In one of the most revealing parts of the recordings, Ms Lewinsky shares the president's controversial definition of sexual relations when she tells Mrs Tripp that she "didn't have sex" with Mr Clinton.

[ image: Facing the music: Tripp criticised in opinion polls]
Facing the music: Tripp criticised in opinion polls
The tapes formed the backbone of Mr Starr's eight-month investigation into the Lewinsky affair. The House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee released the tapes at 1430GMT (0930 EST).

Although an edited transcript of the tapes was released in October, it is the first time Americans heard Ms Lewinsky speak of her affair with the president.

But while the tapes reveal intimate details of the affair, the tapes have been heavily edited after committee members said certain sections should remain secret.

The White House said its reaction to the release of the tapes was between "none to indifference".

The Monica Tapes

Window into Lewinsky's soul

The Monica tapes: The Conversations

"(The president) has got more important things to do and more interesting things to do," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.

Mr Starr appears before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Thursday as the first and so far only witness in the impeachment hearings facing President Clinton.

Questions and answers

Ms Lewinsky: 'I never even came close to having sex with him...'
The tapes reveal that, like Mr Clinton, Monica Lewinsky believes that only intercourse constitutes sex. Linda Tripp expresses surprise and pushes her to talk more about her relations with the "Big Creep".

"Oh I don't know. If you get to orgasm, that's having sex," Mrs Tripp suggests.

"No it's not," Ms Lewinsky quickly counters.

"Yes it is"

"No it's not ... Having sex is having intercourse."

[ image: Listen up: Clinton affair down on tape]
Listen up: Clinton affair down on tape
"You've been around him too long." Mrs Tripp says of the president.

Mrs Tripp also takes Ms Lewinsky through the history of the relationship, asking leading questions to elicit lengthy answers.

The highly detailed questions from Mrs Tripp lead Miss Lewinsky into revealing dates and times of conversations and meetings.

Diplomatic Correspondent Brian Hanrahan: 'This is where it all began'
Miss Lewinsky complains that the relationship has "started to slowdown" as the president was away on official state business.

She worries that she might not see him for three months, including the two-year anniversary of their relationship, November 15, 1997.

"It would be nice to for him to want to see me," she said. "I get stressed out, there's a couple of weeks before I leave for my trip, and then we are talking three months before I see him (again).

"It's really depressing."

Mother and daughter?

The first tape reveals a close and warm relationship between Ms Lewinsky and Mrs Tripp.

Monica Lewinsky: 'I'm miserable in my Pentagon job...'
It appears that Ms Lewinsky trusts her entirely. At one point they speak of a mother and daughter-style relationship.

In a chatty exchange from October 1997, Ms Lewinsky ends the phone call with a secret.

"Linda, you can't tell - say this to anyone," she says breathlessly.

"Oh sure."

"Not even like 'I heard' ... I'm serious."

"Who would I tell?"

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