Condit denies cover-up in missing intern case
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Gary Condit said in a statement Tuesday he has "never asked anyone to refrain from discussing" the disappearance of former intern Chandra Levy, nor has he "suggested that anyone mislead authorities.
The California Democrat's comments were in response to a flight attendant's claim that Condit had a yearlong extramarital affair with her and that he told her she was not required to cooperate with FBI investigators in the Levy case.
Condit, speaking through spokesmen, has repeatedly denied implications of a romantic relationship with Levy, describing her as a friend and constituent from his Central Valley congressional district.
Anne Marie Smith, 39, a United Airlines flight attendant based in San Francisco, said in a televised interview Monday that after Levy disappeared in May, Condit told her in a telephone conversation she did not have to discuss their affair with the media or the FBI.
Smith told Fox News the congressman urged her to sign an affidavit that would have denied "under penalty of perjury" that she had a romantic relationship with him. Smith's allegations were first made in a story in the Star tabloid, based on an interview with her roommates.
Condit's San Francisco attorney, Joe Cotchett, acknowledged Smith was sent an affidavit and that she refused to sign it. The affidavit advised her attorney, Jim Robinson, to "please edit, cut, suggest, etc."
"After Mr. Robinson reviewed it, he called back to say she [Smith] was not inclined to sign any statement at this time about her relationship with the congressman as she didn't want to get involved any further and it was a personal matter," Cotchett said.
"He said she was upset with her roommates, had already talked to the FBI and given the FBI details of her relationship. Any statement, he said, would have to reflect her conversations with the FBI," Cotchett said.
Robinson said he had Smith come forward so her account would be on the record should anything "happen to my client."
"There's already a missing person involved here. I'm very concerned about [Smith's] safety," Robinson told reporters. "There is a young lady who has been now missing for almost two months that they are looking for in the D.C. garbage dump."
Robinson said that according to his client Condit called her after she refused to sign the affidavit in an attempt to pressure her.
"If that is true, that is attempting to have someone commit perjury," he said. Robinson said his client plans no legal recourse.
Robinson said that even after Levy's disappearance Smith and Condit continued a "phone relationship," but he advised her to end it.
In her interview with Fox, Smith said she refused to sign the affidavit because it was not true. She said she then disclosed her relationship with Condit to the FBI.
"I personally could never have signed, or would never have signed, it," she said. "Obviously, Mr. Condit knew it was false, and he was urging me to sign it. ... He said, 'This could be potentially embarrassing for both of us.'"
Smith said she broke off the affair with Condit shortly after learning of Levy's disappearance. "I thought, 'Oh my God, I hope there's no connection,'" she said.
Smith said she came forward because "I was concerned about my safety."
Levy, 24, was last reported seen April 30 at a Washington gym. Police now say there is evidence she was in her apartment on May 1 because she sent an e-mail message from her laptop computer on that day. She was planning to return to California after an internship at the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Condit, 53, is scheduled to return to Modesto -- Levy's hometown and the hub of his district -- for a Fourth of July parade, according to Mayor Carmen Sabatino.
Extra security will be on hand, Sabatino said, since Condit will be riding in an open convertible as part of the parade.
District of Columbia police say they are still treating Levy's disappearance as a missing persons case, not a criminal matter. They say they have no clues to indicate Levy might be dead, but they plan to search landfills and trash bins with dogs trained to sniff cadavers.
D.C. police have questioned Condit twice. Arrangements are being made for the FBI to interview Condit's wife, Carolyn, in California. Cotchett has said Mrs. Condit, who spends most of her time in California, was visiting Condit in Washington when Levy disappeared.
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