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Condit avoiding cameras

Condit's office issued a statement Wednesday, expressing sympathy to the Levy family.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Gary Condit is going to great lengths to avoid the media scrutiny that returned with the discovery of the remains of Chandra Levy, the former government intern with whom he once had a relationship.

Police have not classified Levy's death as a homicide, saying cause of death must first be established. Nor have they named any suspects in the case.

A source close to Condit expressed the hope that an examination of Levy's remains would lay to rest any suspicions that Condit was somehow involved in the young woman's disappearance one year ago.

Condit has said little publicly about the nature of his relationship with Levy, calling it a friendship, but police sources say he admitted to an affair with Levy during one interview last year.

The married California Democrat has steadfastly maintained he knows nothing about Levy's disappearance, and last summer he allowed the FBI to search his Washington apartment.

The source said the discovery of Levy could be "a chance to finally get him exonerated," but noted the decomposed nature of the skeletal remains.

"Our only fear is there won't be enough forensic evidence to clear him," said the source, who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

Condit's office issued a statement last night, expressing sympathy to the Levy family, who live in the California district he represents.

The fallout from Condit's connection to Levy damaged his political career: He was defeated in the Democratic primary in March.

For months after Levy's disappearance last year, Condit couldn't walk across the street from his Rayburn Building office to the Capitol without being surrounded by reporters and photographers.

Those camera crews are back and he is going to great lengths to avoid them.

An example of that occurred late Wednesday night, as Condit was riding down an escalator on his way out of the Capitol. Upon spotting a CNN camera crew waiting for him at the bottom, Condit turned and ran back up the escalator before slipping through a side door and disappearing back into the Capitol.

Condit camp critical of police

The source close to Condit is faulting the Washington D.C. Metropolitan police department's handling of the investigation, saying that investigators "were quick to dismiss the serial killer theory."

Separately, Mark Geragos, an attorney for Condit, criticized police for not finding the remains last summer, despite searches at that time. "It is certainly not a red-letter day for the D.C., police," Geragos said.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey rejected the criticism, calling Geragos "ill-informed as usual" and saying the attorney was trying "to move as much of the spotlight away from his client as possible."

The chief called Condit "one of many people we have spoken to during the course of this investigation."

Ramsey defended his department's handling of the case in an interview with CNN, and vowed Thursday not to close the investigation "till we find out what happened to Chandra Levy."

Condit headed to California

Condit, who was on the House floor late into Wednesday night as lawmakers debated a spending bill for the war on terrorism, missed the first floor vote Thursday, a procedural vote. The source close to the Condit said the congressman would be on the floor later Thursday to vote on the more substantive aspects of the bill.

Condit was not seen by reporters Thursday morning. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which was scheduled to meet in a secret location in the Capitol to discuss its investigation into the September 11 intelligence failures.

The source, commenting on Condit's continued appearance on Capitol Hill despite his defeat in the recent California Democratic primary, said, "He was elected to a two-year term, not until he was defeated. ... It's his responsibility."

Condit is scheduled to spend the weeklong Memorial Day recess at his home near Modesto, Calif. where Levy's parents live. He is expected to fly out shortly after the House finishes its business, which is expected later Thursday or possibly Friday.

Those plans could change if the news media is staking him out at airports or at his home, the source said.

-- CNN Capitol Hill Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.




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