- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

Rep. Gary A. Condit broke his long public silence last night, admitting he had a five-month relationship with missing former intern Chandra Levy, but denying that he had any role in her disappearance.
But the 53-year-old married man would not say in the 30-minute interview with Connie Chung on ABC's "Prime Time Live" whether he and Miss Levy, 24, had a sexual relationship. In addition, he disputed the accounts of nearly everybody else involved in the case, including Miss Levy's parents, her aunt, and other women who have claimed to have had affairs with him.
The California Democrat merely said they were "very close." He told Mrs. Chung that his formulation came in part out of deference to Miss Levy's parents, Robert and Susan Levy.
"Well, I've been married for 34 years, and I've not been a perfect man. … But out of respect for my family, and out of a specific request from the Levy family, I think it's best that I not get into those details."
Mr. Condit, who referred to himself as "a moral man," said he does not know what happened to Miss Levy and was not involved in her disappearance.
Asked whether he might have said something that could have caused her to drop out of sight, he said, "You know, Chandra and I never had a cross word."
"I liked her very much," he said. But later in the interview, he said, "I did not love her."
Asked if Miss Levy wanted to marry him and have his child, Mr. Condit said, "I only knew Chandra Levy for five months … and we never had a discussion about a future, about children, about marriage."
Mr. Condit said he did not know why Miss Levy's aunt would have said that the former intern wanted to have his baby.
He said he never made promises to the young woman.
"Never … I've been married for 34 years, and I intend to stay married to that woman as long as she'll have me," the congressman said.
The ABC interview was Mr. Condit's first broadcast interview since Miss Levy disappeared from her Dupont Circle apartment May 1. It was conducted at a friend's ranch in Modesto, Calif., where the missing woman's family lives and which is in Mr. Condit's district.
The network interview and others are part of a media blitz to start Mr. Condit's bid for re-election.
In the interview — as in a letter he sent to more than 200,000 constituents Wednesday — Mr. Condit insisted he has cooperated fully with D.C. police in their investigation and has done nothing to impede the probe.
"No one in Washington has been more cooperative than myself," the congressman told Miss Chung.
She countered that police do not agree. "The police even say that you impeded the investigation. They do not believe that you have fully cooperated."
Mr. Condit said he is "puzzled" and "confused" as to why Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles H. Ramsey has said such things about him.
On ABC, he said he's been "very specific" in answering questions posed to him by police about his relationship with Miss Levy. "I've told them every detail in every interview," he said.
Reminded that D.C. police have said Mr. Condit did not acknowledge having been intimate with Miss Levy until the third of four interviews, the congressman said: "In the first interview, I revealed every bit of the details about Chandra Levy. I answered every question that law enforcement asked me. In the second interview, I did the same thing."
"Truthfully?" Miss Chung asked.
After some verbal hesitation, Mr. Condit said, "I answered every question truthfully."
Pressed as to whether he revealed having any affair with Miss Levy, Mr. Condit said, "I'm not going to go into the aspects and the details of the investigation or the interviews. I'm just saying to you that I answered every question asked of me by the police department on every occasion."
Mr. Condit did not answer Miss Chung's repeated questions whether the police had asked him whether he had been having an affair with Miss Levy, retreating to his "I answered every question truthfully" formulation.
Miss Chung asked Mr. Condit about the assertion by the intern's mother that he denied having a sexual relationship with Chandra when she called to let him know her daughter was missing and asked him that question.
"I never lied to Mrs. Levy," said the congressman. "What Mrs. Levy asked me was a series of questions about a lot of things. I'm sorry if she misunderstood those conversations."
Pressed further, Mr. Condit said, "She did not ask me that question."
The congressman denied that his wife, Carolyn, ever talked with Miss Levy. He said the first time his family heard of the young intern was May 6, when her father called and reported she was missing.
In addition, Mr. Condit called a flight attendant who said she had had an affair with him a gold-digger. Anne Marie Smith is looking for "financial gain," he said.
As in the television interview, Mr. Condit denied in the letter he was in any way involved with Miss Levy's disappearance.
"I pray that she has not met the same fate as the other young women who have disappeared from the same neighborhood," he said in the mass mailing.
The women he referred to, Joyce Chiang, 28, and Christine Mirzayan, also 28, of Georgetown, were slain. Miss Levy lived in Dupont Circle and, like the two homicide victims, was from California.
In his letter, Mr. Condit did not mention having any kind of relationship with Miss Levy, a former intern with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Nor did he address reports that he has had extramarital affairs with other women.
Miss Levy has not been heard from since May 1, when she e-mailed her mother a copy of air fares from Southwest Airlines. She had been expected to fly home to California to attend her graduate-school commencement at the University of Southern California.
The Levys informed the Metropolitan Police Department on May 5 that she was missing. Investigators entered her apartment the next day. They found it in order, with no sign of a break-in or a struggle. With the exception of her keys, police also found all her possessions — including her packed luggage.
In his letter, Mr. Condit defended himself against media criticism that he has remained "silent" during the police probe of her disappearance.
"I have not been silent with those in charge of finding Chandra. I have answered every single question asked by the police and FBI," he said.
He said it's a mistake for anyone to assume that "not talking with the media" suggests he had a role in her disappearance.
As for yesterday's interview with Miss Chung, Mr. Condit acknowledged he was not looking forward to it. "But things have gone on long enough," he said.
He reminded them of the help he has provided in times of need during his 30 years as an elected official and pledged he would still be there for them in the future.
"I hope our relationship is strong enough to endure all of this," he said.


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