- The Washington Times - Monday, August 27, 2001

The attorney for San Francisco flight attendant Anne Marie Smith says he will be in California today to serve Rep. Gary A. Condit with legal papers — possibly a defamation lawsuit — on behalf of his client, who says she had an affair with the beleaguered married congressman that he tried to cover up.
"He said some very terrible things about my client [in recent media interviews], and I have to take legal action," lawyer Jim Robinson said yesterday in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
"He certainly defamed my client … he slandered her, he libeled her, all of the above," Mr. Robinson said in a separate interview on ABC's "This Week."
He declined to describe the specific content or nature of the complaint to be filed, saying he wants Mr. Condit to see it first. He would not disclose whether it would be a civil or criminal filing but said, "I'm a civil attorney."
The impending litigation is just the latest adversity Mr. Condit, 53, California Democrat, has faced since he appeared on ABC's "Prime Time Live" Thursday night to discuss his relationship with Chandra Levy, 24, a former government intern, who has been missing since May 1.
Viewer response — including that of his own constituents — was overwhelmingly negative. Critics said he was cold, evasive and untruthful.
House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, expressed dismay at what he called a lack of candor on Mr. Condit's part. He said he and fellow Democrats will consider punishing the six-term congressman by removing him from the House intelligence committee.
Some House Republicans who appeared on news talk shows yesterday said the ethics committee should investigate Mr. Condit, but Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, said he believes a grand jury probe would be a better option.
Meanwhile, Fox News reported yesterday that Democrats in charge of redistricting are trying to reshape Mr. Condit's 18th congressional district to prevent his re-election. Fox News correspondent Rita Cosby said she's been told they want to shift his district "to include two groups of voters that are not favorable to Condit: some die-hard Republicans and some liberal Democrats in the Stockton, California, area."
As for Anne Marie Smith, the 39-year-old flight attendant says she had a nearly yearlong sexual relationship with Mr. Condit. She claims agents for Mr. Condit and the congressman himself tried to get her to sign an affidavit affirming they had not had such a relationship.
Miss Smith said the pressure began after questions were raised about Mr. Condit's relationship with Miss Levy, following her disappearance from her apartment near Dupont Circle nearly four months ago.
Miss Smith says she refused to sign the affidavit and went to authorities. The U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating the matter for possible charges of obstruction of justice and subornation of perjury. Mr. Condit strongly denies trying to get anyone to lie to criminal justice officials.
In the ABC interview Thursday, Mr. Condit flatly denied that he had a sexual relationship with Miss Smith. He charged that she had made up her complaint for publicity and "financial gain."
In a follow-up interview on KOVR-TV in Modesto, Calif., Mr. Condit said Miss Smith "wanted to sell a story to a tabloid," and "that's what she did."
But Tony Frost, editor of the Star tabloid, told the New York Daily News that her roommates sold her story to that tabloid. He said Miss Smith rejected a contract Star offered her for a first-person interview.
Miss Smith's attorney, Mr. Robinson, said yesterday on Fox: "I have not received a dime on this case. She hasn't paid me. Nobody's paid her. There's no money."
On ABC's "This Week," Mr. Robinson said Mr. Condit had to recognize his denial of an affair with Miss Smith would not stand up. "There are some identifying things about Mr. Condit's body, which we gave to the FBI," he said.
Vanity Fair writer Judy Bachrach, who interviewed Mr. Condit on Wednesday, said on ABC's "This Week" that when she spoke with him, "he didn't deny that relationship" with Anne Marie Smith. "What he denied to me was any attempt to get her to lie about the relationship," Miss Bachrach said.
In an interview Friday with Newsweek magazine, Mr. Condit suggested it is open to interpretation whether he and Miss Smith had a relationship. "In my opinion, we did not have a relationship. It would probably be her definition of a relationship versus mine," he told Newsweek's Michael Isikoff.
Mr. Robinson yesterday said Mr. Condit is "back to the old Clinton playbook, except for the fact that, apparently, he never feels anybody's pain but his own. You know, he's parsing words. A relationship is a relationship is a relationship. Was it of a sexual nature? Yes."
In his various interviews, Mr. Condit has refused to say if he had a sexual relationship with Miss Levy. But his attorney, Abbe Lowell, confirmed that indirectly on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, when he said senior Condit staffers were wrong when they said repeatedly in May and June that Mr. Condit and Miss Levy were not romantically involved.
When "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert noted that Michael Lynch, Mr. Condit's chief of staff, and other aides often said Mr. Condit had assured them there was no romance, Mr. Lowell said, "Congressman Condit did not tell the staff to go out and lie. Congressman Condit did not authorize those statements to be made. Those staff people spoke about what they hoped was the truth, and what they thought was the truth."
The lawyer added it was a "mistake for the staff and the collective office of the congressman and me not to correct that sooner … and better."
On CNN's "Late Edition," two Republican congressmen, Scott McInnis of Colorado and David Dreier of California, said the House ethics panel should begin an investigation of Mr. Condit's conduct now.
But Mr. Rangel, in appearances on CNN and Fox, questioned the grounds for an ethics panel probe. "With the ethics committee, you have to have evidence of wrongdoing," he said on Fox.


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