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Congressman Gary Condit Admits a Romantic Relationship With Missing Intern Chandra Levy

Aired July 7, 2001 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: More information coming now and significant information in the case of missing Washington intern Chandra Levy. Just a short time ago, District of Columbia metropolitan police announced that they interviewed Congressman Gary Condit for a third time on Friday night. Sources tell CNN the California Democrat did admit during the interview that he and Levy were once romantically involved.

CNN's Bob Franken brings us up to date now. Bob, hello again.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Steve. And the hints were made during the news conference by Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer that they got the clarity about the relationship that they were seeking. The police detectives had let it be known in the last several days that they were, in fact, trying to clear up, specifically clear up whether, in fact, Condit did have a romantic relationship.

And Condit answered all of their questions. The question was did he, the answer, according to police sources, including someone who was at the investigation itself, at the interview itself, he did say yes, he had a romantic relationship with Chandra Levy. Of course, this is something that Congressman Gary Condit has been denying ever since the 24-year-old former Washington intern -- did not intern for Congressman Condit himself -- but there have been recurring reports that Condit and Levy did have a romantic relationship, reports even from relatives, and it had been denied up until now.

But now to the police, Condit has admitted that he had, in fact, a romantic relationship. The police say they were interested in this because they felt that if there was an intimate relationship, Condit might be able to provide more insights into exactly how -- what caused Chandra Levy to disappear. They are going to see if that plays out. They say that they are no nearer trying to decide this missing person's case.

Now, the interview, as you pointed out, Stephen, occurred for about an hour and a half and occurred some place in Washington, not a police location, last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRANCE GAINER, ASSISTANT POLICE CHIEF, WASHINGTON, D.C.: The congressman, with his attorney present, answered every question that we put to him. And so, he clarified those issues that we needed some more information about, and we were comfortable with his answers. It was a good hour and a half productive meeting.

And the congressman was not a suspect before the meeting, he was not a suspect during the meeting and he is not a suspect since the meeting. So, he was cooperative and happy to get this third interview out of the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: Now, Abbe Lowell, who is Condit's attorney, is meeting right now with some of the other people who are on his team. In the last several days, the emphasis has gone from denying the romantic relationship to arguing that it's not really relevant to the investigation. Lowell is deciding whether and when he will be putting out some sort of a statement in response to the developments that we've been reporting on the last several hours.

Now, one other thing that Gainer wanted to clear up, and that was the report in some media that there have been a grand jury that have been paneled to investigate this matter. Gainer said that is not the case. To explain, that anytime a subpoena is requested in the District of Columbia, the routine mechanism is to go before the grand jury, whatever it's investigating, get the foreman to sign the actual papers.

There is no need, he said, for a grand jury. This is not a criminal investigation, as we heard. The police still do not consider Gary Condit a suspect -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: One question, Bob, before we let you go this time around. If I understood the chief correctly, as I listened to him in the news conference, he made it clear that the police are now "comfortable," in his words, that they understand the nature of the relationship, but frustratingly, he said, that they are no closer to understanding where Ms. Chandra Levy is.

FRANKEN: That's correct. He said that there are four possibilities, foul play of course being the one which has provided an awful lot of focus during this investigation. The possibility of suicide, although police are saying that is less and less likely. Also, they say there is a possibility that Chandra Levy, for one reason or another, decided to go in hiding, and the last one is that she was somehow injured and is out there without really realizing what is going on.

All of those are being investigated. As you just pointed out, Stephen, they are no closer really to having the answers that they want.

FRAZIER: From Washington, Bob Franken. Bob, thank you very much.

Now to California's 18th Congressional district, where some voters are wondering why Representative Condit hasn't publicly responded to the questions raised since Ms. Levy's disappearance. CNN's Martin Savidge has more now from Modesto, California. Martin, hello again.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Stephen. It's obvious that Congressman Condit answered a lot of questions last night in his hour and a half interview with Washington, D.C. police. As they say, he answered every single question that was put to him.

However, it is also safe to say that there are a lot of questions that still linger in the minds of many of his constituents here in the Modesto area of California. However, that's probably as it should be. The police news conference probably didn't satisfy, and should not. It is not the role of the police department in Washington, D.C. -- or anywhere else, for that matter, to satisfy public curiosity, it's their role to investigate.

And the truth be known, it is not the accusations, not the innuendo that the people here are most troubled by. Certainly, they've heard enough of that. What troubles the most is the silence from the man who represents them. This is a man who has been in Congress from this area since 1989. This is a man who, one person told me, had not lost an election in 30 years. This is a man who was the mayor of this community, worked his way up through local government.

And if there's one thing that people have always said about Congressman Condit, it is that he is so very approachable, and that's what disturbs the most in these past few weeks. He has not been or hardly seen at all in this area, and he's even less been spoken out on what's going with his relationship.

We talked to people earlier at a farmers market, and though this was before the revelations of this afternoon, the issues that bothered them still remained after that news conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's all coming out now, but I think that it's taking away from the fact that there a person is missing. That's the main story here. I think they ought to focus on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All congressmen, they are public servants, and the public deserves honesty from them, simply because we took their confidence and put them in office, and voted for them and put them there. So, they need to come clean and be straight with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I think it's time now. I think it's gone way too long. You know, you read the newspaper, you hear news, but we haven't seen him. We haven't even seen him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: Now, honesty is an issue that could become a factor locally, especially for the congressman's political career. It is not such an impact across the nation, but here, as you will remember, the congressman denied emphatically a romantic relationship. Now, as CNN is reporting, he did have that relationship. That could be a problem for his constituents.

The other thing to remember is that this is not only just the home to the congressman, it is also the home to the family of Chandra Levy, and it remains to be seen what these latest revelations will do for them. The news conference certainly has not ended their anguish -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: In Modesto, California, Martin Savidge. Marty, thank you very much.

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