W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 19, 2001 -- Linda Tripp, a key player in the Monica Lewinsky investigation, has lost her job just one day after asking President Clinton to let her keep her nearly $99,000-a-year political appointee position.
While Tripp's lawyers contend she was fired, appointees serve "at the pleasure of the president" and can be asked to leave at any time during their tenure.
Virtually all political appointees, including Tripp, have been asked to resign at the end of Clinton's term.
Tripp's attorney said Tripp will take legal action to try to get the job back. "She was not required to resign and they were not requiredto fire her," Tripp lawyer Michael Kohn told reporters.
Kohn said Tripp had already filed a lawsuit to complainabout a violation of a privacy act and would now file an"amended complaint" after her firing.
White House spokesman Jake Siewert said Tripp failed to submit her resignation like other federal employees at her level and as a result will lose her job when George W. Bush takes office Saturday.
Still, in a statement released today, Tripp attorneys Kohn, Stephen Kohn and David Colapinto said her dismissal was "vindictive, mean-spirited and wrong … President Clinton should not have ended his presidency on such a vengeful note."
Can't Find Comparable Government Job, She Says
ABCNEWS has obtained a "Dear Mr. President" letter in which Tripp sought to keep her job, which brings in an annual salary of $98,744.
In the letter, sent Thursday, Tripp's lawyers argue she is only in her current position after being shipped to a temporary political posting at the Defense Department — from a permanent job at the White House — because she cooperated with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation. She provided hours of secretly recorded conversations between her and Lewinsky that were critical in helping Starr learn about Clinton's relationship with the former White House intern.
Because of what Tripp's lawyers call a White House "smear campaign," she claims to no longer be able to find other good government work.
"If required to submit her resignation, she has no realistic prospect of finding any employment commensurate with her current grade level," Tripp's lawyers wrote. "If terminated from employment, she will be unable to support her daughter, who is currently enrolled as a full-time college student."
Tripp worked at the Pentagon as a political appointee, known as "Schedule-C." Schedule-C workers are routinely asked — in fact, expected — to resign at the end of a president's term. Only one Senate-confirmed appointee at each government agency and department is asked to stay on until a replacement can take the helm.
Tripp's lawyers argued that if she were not allowed to keep her job, it would have "a chilling effect on the willingness of other federal employees to report official misconduct."
ABCNEWS' Jackie Judd, ABCNEWS.com's Brian Hartman and The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.