‘Impeachment’ Episode 1 Fact-Check: What ‘Exiles’ Gets Right

How does Impeachment’s portrayal of the primary assembly between Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson) and Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) align with the historic document?
Photo: /Tina Thorpe/FX

The new FX restricted collection Impeachment: American Crime Story the third in a true-crime anthology that began with The People v. O.J. Simpson and continued with The Assassination of Gianni Versace — covers the occasions main as much as Bill Clinton’s impeachment in December 1998, with a heavy emphasis on the fallout from his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Fans of the sensible Slate podcast Slow Burn will certainly keep in mind many particulars from its Leon Neyfakh–hosted second season three years in the past, which included amongst its eight episodes bonus interviews with main gamers like Ken Starr, the particular prosecutor and writer of the notorious Starr Report, and Linda Tripp, who had befriended Lewinsky on the Pentagon and helped reveal her secret affair to the unbiased counsel’s workplace.

For all ten episodes of Impeachment, we’ve requested Madeline Kaplan, the researcher for the Clinton-Lewinsky season of Slow Burn, to fact-check the present’s main occasions and minute particulars towards her personal understanding of the occasions. (Kaplan and Neyfakh’s eight-book reading list can be found here and doesn’t embody the Starr Report and its eyebrow-raising appendices.) Kaplan adopted Neyfakh (and co-creator Andrew Parsons) to Prologue Projects, the place she serves as a producer on Neyfakh’s Fiasco and different podcasts.

In the first episode, “Exiles,” Impeachment considers the soon-to-be-tumultuous lives of three girls: Tripp (Sarah Paulson), Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford). It begins with Tripp within the West Wing of the Clinton White House, the place she is a disgruntled holdover from the Bush administration and is current on July 20, 1993, the day Vince Foster, Clinton’s longtime pal and lawyer, kills himself. Later within the episode, Tripp is scuttled over to a cubicle on the Pentagon’s public-affairs workplace, the place she meets one other West Wing pariah, Lewinsky, a former White House intern who’s counting the times till the 1996 election, when she will be able to return to the West Wing courtesy of a extremely linked civil servant whom we all know (and Tripp suspects) to be Clinton (Clive Owen). Meanwhile, an article in The American Spectator on Troopergate — the identify given to the scandal during which Arkansas state troopers claimed they’d organized then-Governor Clinton’s sexual liaisons — catches the eye of Jones, who says she had acquired an undesirable advance from the long run president in a lodge room. Although solely her first identify seems within the articles, she and her Clinton-hating husband, Steve (Taran Killam), take steps to pursue a sexual-harassment lawsuit.

Kaplan talked in regards to the three girls on the heart of the primary episode and the entire small particulars, too, just like the onion on Foster’s burger and Tripp’s Stephen Root in Office Space–type remedy on the Pentagon.

The main plot and character beats that form Impeachment’s narrative. 

Linda Tripp’s motives
“It will get at them fairly nicely — her dislike of the Clintons usually, of Hillary, and of the best way they ran the White House. When [Tripp] labored for the Bushes, she had a variety of respect for them and the best way they ran issues, so I do suppose they get that proper. There’s one thing elementary about all these younger folks working round, about Hillary not performing like a correct First Lady … this stuff that she perceives in them, that does appear fairly correct to me.”

Tripp’s connection to and respect for Vince Foster
“She didn’t work immediately for him. She labored for Bernie Nussbaum, who was Vince’s boss. But there have been a number of secretaries in that workplace working collectively, so she knew him that method. She actually appreciated him quite a bit. She thought that he, I believe, was correct {and professional} in the best way that a few of his different colleagues won’t have been.”

Tripp’s understanding of Whitewater
“My understanding of that is that she was involved in regards to the integrity of Vince’s workplace in these few days after he died. And she apparently had a confrontation with one other secretary who she thought was transferring issues round in there … There finally ends up being over the subsequent few years — and he or she truly testifies about this at one level — a variety of confusion about what information have been taken and bins of information that have been taken as much as the residence doubtlessly for Hillary to undergo. But so far as I’m conscious, there wasn’t a field labeled ‘Whitewater.’ It’s extra like there are bins of random information which are going far and wide.”

Tripp’s exile to the Pentagon
“She truly did apparently have this assembly with Lloyd Cutler, who was the incoming White House counsel, and principally pitched her and Kathleen Willey as a package deal to attempt to hold them each on. So that apparently did occur, and supposedly he was actually delay by it, that overforwardness in that scenario, which is certainly what they convey right here.”

Enter Paula Jones
“There are sure elements which are exaggerated or perhaps simplified of their motives. [Jones] principally heard about that article in The American Spectator from a pal after which acquired maintain of it and was horrified that it mentioned she wished to be the president’s girlfriend, principally, and had this consensual encounter with him. In Jeffrey Toobin’s guide A Vast Conspiracy, he describes Steve Jones as having a deep resentment and perhaps even hatred of the president going again a good distance. So he actually didn’t like Clinton. [Toobin] describes Steve as, I believe, fairly indignant usually, which I believe the present actually leans into.”

The CPAC press convention
“There are a few issues about it which are actually correct, and there are some things which are not noted, I believe, simply because you’ll be able to’t cowl all the things. So Cliff Jackson was this long-standing Clinton foil. We talked about him in Slow Burn as a result of he principally knew Clinton from method again and got here to be concerned in a variety of these efforts to uncover him. Basically, it is a man who was concerned right here and helped shepherd the Paula Jones case in its very early days. He was actually the primary one introducing this press convention, organizing it, they usually type of skip over him.

“But when it comes to how issues unfolded, a variety of this stuff are direct quotes from the Toobin guide or from different recollections of this press convention. The half the place [Jones] mentions that [Clinton] requested for a kind of intercourse after which somebody says, ‘Is it one thing that you could possibly do with out taking your garments off?’ That’s a quote. Although, apparently, her lawyer mentioned sure in reply to that query, moderately than not answering the query in that second. The half the place her lawyer apparently says, ‘She’ll give a blow-by-blow account,’ they usually all chuckle, that’s quoted in accounts of this. Basically, the concept that [members of the press] have been all very annoyed by what they have been anticipating and what they got on this press convention, that appears fairly correct.”

When Linda meets Monica
“It will get a variety of the broad outlines of their relationship right. I’m not completely certain about this factor the place Linda manages to get one other workplace for a day and that’s the place she meets [Lewinsky]. In all of the accounts I’ve learn, she had these large photos, they have been known as jumbos, of Clinton at her desk. But that’s what Monica observed and went as much as speak to her about. They bonded over working within the White House. They bonded quite a bit over antiquing at first. I believe they’re simply very chatty, each not very blissful to have been moved from the White House. So in some methods, they have been kindred spirits about that.”

Tripp sensing Lewinsky’s involvement with Clinton this early
“Both appear to agree that Monica didn’t inform her it was Clinton till after the election, however Linda has mentioned that she figured it out earlier than that, which the present undoubtedly appears to indicate. Monica did inform her that she had a boyfriend or was in a relationship with somebody, and there was this secret relationship that had one thing to do along with her job. And so a variety of these issues are correct, and it’s extra like there are discrepancies about when [Tripp] would have figured issues out. She did know that [Lewinsky] had a secret.”

The particulars and gildings that will or will not be rooted within the historic document however mirror Impeachment’s stylistic method. 

On the assembly between Tripp and Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco) within the toilet
“I haven’t discovered something particular about that incident specifically occurring. When Tripp labored within the White House counsel’s workplace, that suite of workplaces was proper subsequent to the First Lady’s suite of workplaces within the West Wing, so I undoubtedly suppose they’d have crossed paths. I don’t know that they’d have had a variety of one-on-one interplay like that.”

On Vince Foster’s final meal
“Yes, [Tripp] acquired him a hamburger and M&M’s. I’ve seen it described as ‘a handful,’ so I don’t know whether or not it was a scoop or a field.

“There is one thing that they don’t get into right here, which I perceive, which Tripp introduced up later in a few of her interviews with the particular counsel about Foster: Apparently, she thought it was unusual that he took off the onion. There was an onion that got here on the hamburger, and he took it off. And she thought that was bizarre, that she didn’t suppose that somebody who was planning to commit suicide can be nervous about his breath.”

On Tripp’s fondness for microwaved baked potatoes
“I don’t know in regards to the baked-potato factor. Definitely, one of many issues she and Lewinsky bonded about, which the present will get into once they meet, was totally different food regimen applications or weight-reduction plan usually. I don’t find out about this microwave meal in entrance of the TV each evening factor. That is likely to be extra of a personality selection to indicate her making these microwave meals.”

On Tripp’s workplace scenario on the Pentagon
“Yeah, she apparently was working within the basement of the Pentagon, and it’s described as a cubicle in a variety of locations. I believe at one level within the present you’ll be able to see home windows, so perhaps that was even too cheery of an workplace scene. It’s a type of issues the place you’re like, They might have taken this even additional.”

On Steve Jones wanting a job on Designing Women
“The closest I’ve discovered to that is that apparently [the Joneses’] lawyer Daniel Traylor, who’s their first lawyer on this episode, made this connection that the Clintons knew, I believe, the creator or showrunner of Designing Women. There is likely to be one thing there. I don’t know the way correct it will be that this got here from Steve Jones being like, ‘I do know the president is aware of these folks,’ nevertheless it’s not completely out of left discipline.”

On Paula Jones drawing an image of Clinton’s “enterprise”
“I don’t know that it occurred at this second on this method. Definitely, her description of his ‘distinguishing traits’ was an enormous factor for a few years. That circulated round this case and undoubtedly was thought of a part of the possibly strongest proof, clearly probably the most salacious proof she had. I haven’t seen something that she drew it for [her lawyers] on this second, moderately than simply described it to them. But years later, when she was deposed by Bob Bennett, the president’s lawyer, he requested her to attract it. So this is likely to be referencing that. I believe in all probability additionally they wished the humorous second of the man’s head tilting.”

On Clinton calling Lewinsky after her first day
“I don’t know that he known as her on her first day, however he undoubtedly known as her fairly shortly after she began. So they could have fudged the timing somewhat bit, however that’s pretty correct, truly.”

On how Tripp discovered about Foster’s suicide
“I believe that is in all probability a really typical sort of TV-adaptation factor to fudge, however they present that scene the place Tripp finds out about Foster’s suicide from TV information protection. But truly, she testified later that she acquired a name from somebody linked to the White House round midnight that evening letting her know.”

On whether or not birds fluttered within the forest after Foster’s deadly gunshot was fired
[Laughs.]

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