- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

U.S. Rep. Gary A. Condit's belated confession about his romantic involvement with missing intern Chandra Levy drew sharp criticism yesterday from a former federal prosecutor who called the congressman's two-month silence "suspicious."
Former U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova said on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday morning that the California Democrat's delay in telling tell police about his relationship with Miss Levy, 24, who worked for the federal prison bureau, could have impeded the investigation into the woman's disappearance. Miss Levy has been missing since April 30.
"The fact he lied about [their] relationship to the police … is relevant," Mr. diGenova said. Mr. Condit "may have had a pattern of conduct which would be relevant in a missing person's investigation, about the way he treated women."
"At this point, his conduct is extremely suspicious."
Mr. Condit's attorney, Abbe Lowell, defended the congressman's failure to disclose the details of his relationship with Miss Levy the first two times he was questioned by police. It was only during a third interview with detectives Friday that the congressman confessed to having an affair with the young woman, according to the Associated Press. Miss Levy, of Modesto, Calif., lived alone in an apartment near Dupont Circle.
In appearances on other news shows yesterday, Mr. Lowell said Mr. Condit has done all he could to help investigators.
"The congressman has said from the beginning … that [he] is going to answer and be cooperative with the police and is going to do everything he can to … help find Chandra Levy," Mr. Lowell said during his appearance on ABC's "This Week."
"And he's going to do that, and he's done it and he'll do it tomorrow, if necessary," Mr. Lowell said. "He has also said that he is not going to invade his and his family's private life. He's a public figure [who] is holding onto his private life."
Mr. diGenova said he doesn't buy Mr. Condit's arguments. "He withheld that information from the police over a number of weeks," Mr. diGenova said on the Fox News Channel. "It is indefensible, and his explanation that he did it to protect his family is unbelievable. … It shows him to have lied to investigators at least twice. … So I think at this point, he is the subject of more suspicion, and he should be."
D.C. police officials said yesterday they met with Mr. Condit, 53, for the third time Friday, at which point some sources said the congressman disclosed the sexual nature of his relationship with Miss Levy. Mr. Condit's wife, Carolyn Condit, met with police Thursday.
Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer told The Washington Times yesterday Mr. Condit is not a suspect in Miss Levy's disappearance. He declined to comment on reports in The Times and other news outlets that Mr. Condit admitted, during his third interview, to having an affair with Miss Levy.
The chief dismissed reports that Mr. Condit has not been forthcoming, but added "We didn't think all our questions were answered until the third interview."
Police said Friday's interview could be the last time they meet with the congressman.
"We have no further questions; he's cooperating with us," Chief Gainer said yesterday. "I think we have to analyze what we've learned [from] him and his wife and analyze our other information and determine its relevancy."
Police left open the option to search Mr. Condit's apartment in Adams Morgan, saying they would do so if they think "there's something to be learned or excluded from it," Chief Gainer said. "We won't search someplace just because we can. We will search it because we should — and that will be determined by the detectives."
Mr. Lowell's spirited defense became confused at times. At one point in the "This Week" broadcast, he said Mr. Condit "has satisfied every request the police have made. … But they haven't asked us for anything at this point, the specifics of which I'm not going to get into. … If the police asked us for anything, we would find the means to provide it."
He said police would not need to obtain a search warrant to enter Mr. Condit's apartment, or subpoena his phone calls.
Chief Gainer said Cmdr. Jack Barrett, the police department's new chief of detectives, would make the call about searching Mr. Condit's apartment. "We're not indicating that happened or not, or won't happen," Chief Gainer said.
The chief said the detectives will continue to handle the investigation as a missing-persons case. Police, who have interviewed more than 100 persons in the case, will continue to question residents of Miss Levy's building, check landfills with cadaver dogs, check taxi cab records and analyze forensic evidence.
"We're going to be thorough, and it doesn't make any difference with whom we're dealing," the chief said.
Chief Gainer lamented that Miss Levy's disappearance has taken a backseat to Mr. Condit's life.
c Staff writer John Drake contributed to this report.

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