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Should Gary Condit Take a Lie Detector Test?

Aired July 9, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Congressman Gary Condit finally admits to police he did have an affair with missing intern Chandra Levy. Now, her desperate family wants him to a take a lie detector test.

Joining us for his first interview since taking on this high- profile mystery, the attorney for Chandra Levy's parents, Billy Martin. Following that exclusive one-on-one, a panel discussion with former federal prosecutor and best-selling author Barbara Olson. In L.A., syndicated radio talk-show host and former criminal attorney Laura Ingraham. With her is defense attorney Mark Geragos. And back in D.C., former federal prosecutor and independent counsel Michael Zeldin.

That and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with Billy Martin, his first interview since taking on this matter for the Levys.

Billy, today you have asked for a lie detector test to be taken. We all know they're not admitted in court. Some people say they're factual, some people say they're not. Why now?

BILLY MARTIN, LEVY FAMILY ATTORNEY: Larry, what's troubling is that it's been 11 weeks since Chandra Levy disappeared. If you can imagine the pain and anguish that her parents, Dr. Bob Levy and Sue Levy, are going through, you can imagine they just want to, as they say, find Chandra and bring her back home.

I would start with early May, near the end of April, the 1st, 2nd of May, Sue Levy had not heard from her daughter. She and her husband became concerned. They started reaching out to people. One of the first people they reached out to was Congressman Gary Condit.

They called Congressman Condit at his office, spoke to Congressman Condit, and a very deep and moving question was asked by Sue Levy as she desperately tried to find her daughter. "Congressman Condit, do you know where my daughter is? And more importantly, have you had an affair or were you having an affair with her?" Larry, he lied. He misrepresented his relationship. He told her no.

And since the family feels -- they feel that based upon statements made by Chandra to relatives, to friends and to her mother herself, that they're confident they can show that Chandra was having an intimate relationship.

They have no confidence in the word of Congressman Condit, and they don't -- his credibility is suspect. And they just want some assurance that he's now telling the truth, since when it began he did not.

KING: But Billy...

MARTIN: A lie detector, we think...

KING: Are they saying...

MARTIN: A lie detector, we think, Larry, would be a sign of good faith. That's all.

KING: Are they saying, Billy, that because he lied there, he might lie elsewhere?

MARTIN: They're saying...

KING: I mean, is that the supposition?

MARTIN: Absolutely. They're saying that because -- they have no basis upon which to believe him. They do not believe that he is being forthright. You've heard statements from his representatives that he's being candid and forthcoming.

Larry, getting information from Congressman Condit is like pulling teeth. It comes out only when he's forced to admit these facts.

What's I think most telling is the timing, Larry. The timing of all of his statements are very -- is very important. When Congressman Condit -- we understand -- and we still do not -- have not heard from Congressman Condit directly or even through one of his representatives that he yet is acknowledging a relationship, an intimate relationship with Chandra Levy. We haven't heard that from him.

So the family does not believe that anything short of him taking a polygraph, anything short of him having some way to test his credibility would give them any, any confidence. Larry, they feel that if he misrepresented that crucial fact, he may misrepresent other facts, and they're -- they're not accepting his word.

KING: Billy, would you sit down with Abbe Lowell, if they accepted this, and work out who would administer the polygraph, what would the circumstances, questions to be asked, et cetera? You'd work with them on that?

MARTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: Now, I want you to -- this is a statement made just a little earlier by Abbe Lowell tonight in Washington. I want get your comment on it. Here is the attorney for Gary Condit, Abbe Lowell. Watch.


ABBE LOWELL, REPRESENTATIVE GARY CONDIT'S ATTORNEY: The congressman will provide whatever additional information or material he can to the police. This includes access to his apartment, telephone or cell phone records, a request that his entire staff make themselves available, and whatever else I can arrange with the police.

Let me say again I hope any or all of this will be useful in finding Chandra Levy. But let me also say that the police have spoken with nearly 100 other people who must also have information. We hope that these others are just as forthcoming, and that one of them can provide a lead to Ms. Levy.


KING: All right, Billy, what can he do other than that?

MARTIN: Larry, you know, I mentioned earlier it's been 11 -- 11 1/2 weeks since Chandra disappeared, early on, what's crucial to a missing person investigation is timing. For years, I served as a federal prosecutor here in Washington, and I worked on kidnapping, homicide and missing person investigations. That first day, two, or even a week is crucial.

Early on in this investigation, Congressman Condit knew that Chandra was upbeat, she knew -- he knew that she was having -- in good spirits. We believe that he knew that she was excited. About what we're not sure.

But the investigation took a different path. The investigation went down a road where it was rumored that Chandra may have taken her own life, that she was despondent, that she was upset, that she had been dumped by her lover. Those were not true statements.

Congressman Condit knew those statements were not true and he never corrected the record. So 11 weeks later for him to say that he's prepared to help, I'm sure the police will accept that help. The Condit family is -- I'm sorry, the Levy family is extremely upset with Congressman Condit, but they would accept that help right now.

What is crucial, Larry, is for Congressman Condit and anybody else that has information on Chandra to come forward. He appears, based upon the investigation that we've done and statements that we've taken from friends and family, to have been one of her very best friends. There's a lot of information we'd like to know. Although he's given that information to the police, he's never said anything to the parents which would at all console them at this moment.

KING: Billy, you say you have a lot of experience as a federal prosecutor with missing persons and things like this. When it goes 11 weeks and when you don't get the information you need, or it comes sporadically, is there a thought that harm has come to her? Would that be a prosecutor's thought?

MARTIN: There's always that thought, and Larry, as a parent -- I know that you're a parent, and I know that any parent out there can feel the, just the pain that the Levys are going through at this moment. There's always hope. Until there is some reason for them to feel that there is no longer hope, I can tell you that Bob and Sue Levy feel that there is hope out there, and they do hope to see Chandra one day alive again.

KING: When we come back, we're going to give you a Web site that you can contact and a phone number as well -- Billy will help us with this -- if you have any information about Chandra. We have more questions as well, then our panel. We'll be right back.


LOWELL: With respect to lie detectors, I know there's a great public appeal to lie detectors. But I know from my own practice that they leave a lot to be desired. If the police call me and tell me that at some point they think that, no matter how suspect it might be, can be helpful, I will discuss it with them. But I will discuss it with them and not with you.




LOWELL: If the police say to me that they believe having a DNA sample for somebody who is not a suspect, maybe because they want to eliminate all the other men in the United States, well, then, that is something that I will receive from them, and Congressman Condit will cooperate.


KING: We're back with Billy Martin. Do you Abbe was being sort of facetious there?

MARTIN: Larry, I think that he said a lot and didn't say anything. He never committed to a polygraph. He essentially said if the police come and ask us to do this, we'll discuss it and get back with them.

Larry, I think it's important to say that Congressman Condit is not a suspect. We have no information and no evidence at all to say that Congressman Condit has done anything wrong. What's troubling to the family is that he's not been helpful. And what has so frustrated the family is that Congressman Condit's representatives have, from the beginning, said that Congressman Condit, No. 1, was just a friend. Congressman Condit had no further information -- and that was not accurate.

KING: Right.

MARTIN: All we want to do is eliminate all witnesses. And unlike Chief Gainer, who says that he is not a suspect, the family believes that everybody who either saw or was around Chandra around the end of April or May 1 may potentially be a suspect. KING: What do the Levys -- let's take this as a hypothetical and then you respond, since a lot of people believe this is probably what happened -- you respond what the Levys want.

Let's say Congressman Condit has an affair with this young intern. Now she's missing. He doesn't know where she is, he don't know what happened to her. He gets hit with this. He's afraid for his wife and children, he doesn't want to admit it, so he lies, like a lot of men would lie. Now he's caught between a rock and a hard place. He has no idea where she is. He doesn't know where she left, he doesn't know if harm came to her. He told this initial lie. Of what possible help can be?

MARTIN: Larry, I would just say this: that his representatives, speaking on his behalf should stop saying that he's been cooperative. He needs to correct the misstatements and the untruths that are on the record, i.e., that they were just friends and there was no intimate relationship.

KING: Well, he's supposedly done that already with the police. All of our sources say that he has admitted to a relationship.

MARTIN: As counsel -- as the attorney for the Levy family, neither Dr. Levy nor Mrs. Levy have heard anything about this, and it would be meaningful for them that if this man spent any meaningful time with their daughter, to at least have the dignity and respect for their daughter to tell the family something about her during the last days that she was seen.

KING: So if he called -- if Congressman Condit called the Levys tomorrow and asked to see them, to spend a day with them to talk about their daughter, they would go?

MARTIN: I'd have to speak with them right now. I can tell you that the first time they were given that opportunity, it was a very tense meeting. The family suspected Congressman Condit of having that affair, and it was difficult to have any real discussion because you could not -- we could not move beyond whether he did or did not have a relationship.

KING: I mean, suppose he was willing to say to them: "I did have this. I'll tell you how your daughter was. I'll tell you what we talked about. I'll tell you what our discussions were, I'll tell you about the last time I saw her. I'll give you any information you want."

Why would they not go to that meeting?

MARTIN: They would go.

KING: They would go.

MARTIN: They would go, and I would ask thereafter that he allow my investigators -- we have two trained former homicide detectives from the District of Columbia who are on this matter investigating it with me -- I'd love for them to speak to Congressman Condit, just to get that same background information, because I think would further our investigation as well.

KING: Do you think the police are doing poorly here, Billy?

MARTIN: No. You know, Larry, I have worked with police both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney here in Washington for 15, 16 years, and I have the utmost respect for the metropolitan police department. Both Chief Gainer and Chief Ramsey -- Deputy Chief Gainer and Chief Ramsey are professionals. I think they're doing all that they can do. I know that they have from time to time sought the assistance of the FBI and the FBI, both here and on the West Coast, has assisted. I think they're doing all that they can do.

We need everybody to be truthful and candid when they're interviewed by the police. It should not take three interviews to pull information from any witness -- Congressman Condit or any other witness.

KING: Now, Billy, we have a Web site and we have an 800 number. The 800 number is 1-800-860-6552. 1-800-860-6552, and I'll repeat that again, and the Web site is What are they for?

MARTIN: Larry, when we had a press conference -- I think it was June -- sorry, it was June 21st when the Levys came into town and hired me at my firm. The DEJ is Dyer, Ellis and Joseph.

Was the Levys came into town and hired my law firm, we had a press conference, and the law firm set up an 800 number and an e-mail address to receive information. I can tell you that we have received, on both the 1-800 number and the e-mail address, close to 400, 450 inquiries from public. Some of them have been very helpful and very meaningful. Those that have been helpful and meaningful, we have turned over to the D.C. police and the FBI and they have them investigated. It's been very helpful.

KING: You're looking for any information somebody has?

MARTIN: We're looking for any and all information and we thank the public now for that information, and ask them to please help with any information that would help Dr. and Mrs. Levy find their daughter.

KING: We'll talk about the state of the Levys in a moment, the statements made by the aunt as well, with Billy Martin right after this.



LOWELL: Not only has he allowed access to his apartment -- some of you might know, maybe some you don't know, that on the very first time he spoke to the police, he, the Congressman, invited the police -- where? To his apartment. It happened in May. They sat right there. This has not been anything but the Congressman's attempt to be open. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're with the attorney for the Levys, Billy Martin. The aunt of Chandra Levy, Linda Zamsky, has gone public with statements about the affair and the relationship between the Congressman. And the final message that Zamsky got from Chandra was as follows: "My internship is over. I'm planning on packing my bags in the next week or 10 days. Heading home for a while. Don't know what I'm going to do this summer. And I really have some big news or something important to tell you. Call me."

What do you surmise from all of this? From Ms. Zamsky's statements, from everything you've learned from that angle, from what your own investigators have learned? Have you come to any conclusions beyond this was a romantic affair, and that's what it was?

MARTIN: That's the only conclusion we've really come to, Larry. I've spoken with her aunt, Linda Zamsky, and I can tell you that Chandra confided a lot to her aunt and told her a lot about relationship. And that's why the family was confident that she was upbeat, she was excited. The kid was going home to graduate from graduate school at, you know, in California. The family was excited to have her come home. Everybody was excited, so you can imagine the roller coaster they've been on. From the excitement of their child coming home to attend graduation to 11 months of missing status.

All they know from both the aunt and telephone calls, is prior to her disappearance, Chandra Levy was excited and eager for some news that she never got a chance to share with anybody.

KING: How would you describe the Levys mood today?

MARTIN: It is -- when I first met the Levys, was they were so emotional, it took me awhile to just speak with them and get them to understand the advice I wanted to give, and there was a lot of feeling that had to come out.

I know as they watch me this evening, they are probably crying. You can't imagine the love that they had for their child and their daughter. They don't -- nobody speaks about Chandra's brother. She has a younger brother. They are there with their family, it is broken right now. As a family they are trying to pick up and go on. But the pain is devastating.

And, all they really want -- if I speak with them, if I pick the phone up now, Larry, the first words that both Dr. Levy and Mrs. Levy would say is, we just want our Chandra back, just do anything you can.

KING: You're a defense lawyer, Billy, and a famous defense lawyer in Washington.

MARTIN: Thank you. I appreciate that.

KING: One would say, who would Gary Condit contact? You would have been on the list of people he would call -- so honestly, if you were his lawyer, would you tell him to take this lie detector test? Would you tell him to meet with the Levys really? If you were his lawyer?

MARTIN: Let's go back to a hypothetical you posed to me a few minutes ago: I think the way that I would answer this question is I would say this. There have been occasions in my career, both as a federal prosecutor and in my 13 years now as a criminal defense attorney, where I have taken a client to have a polygraph administered. If the results were good, you spread the word. If the results are not good, you sit on the results of the polygraph.

I may have wanted to polygraph Congressman Condit just to know the answers. Would I take him in? There's a good chance I might. If he failed, I would never disclose it. But if he passed, I would have it on the front page of every newspaper that would accept it.

KING: And if you were his lawyer, you would advise him to meet with the Levys.

MARTIN: If I was his lawyer I would advise him to meet with the Levys and ask him to help them come to some degree of comfort over the loss of these past 11 1/2 weeks of their daughter.

One other thing I would like to say, if I could. You know, I heard representatives of Congressman Condit talk about how the press is giving this too much attention.

KING: Yeah.

MARTIN: We would like to thank the press. We know that without the coverage that the press has given us both here in Washington, and in the Modesto area, that this story would just be another story with no effort to really find the missing person. The press has really helped put pressure on everybody, both, we believe, Congressman Condit, other witnesses, and all the authorities to do the best that they can, so the press we think has done very good job keeping this matter alive.

And by keeping this matter alive, it will help us, we believe, to learn where Chandra is or what's happened to her.

KING: We will be back with our remaining moments with Billy Martin then our panel we'll assemble.

This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.


KING: We understand Billy that Mrs. Levy did make a very short statement tonight in front of wherever they are staying. Here, let's watch this.



SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S MOTHER: To come ahead and take the polygraph test. And to help us find our daughter. And bring her home back to us alive.


KING: Billy, how old is the brother you mentioned?

MARTIN: Larry, trying to maintain their privacy, I assured the family that I would not tell too much but he is younger than Chandra.

KING: All right, how is he handling it? That is what I wanted to get at.

MARTIN: Well, he is a teenager.


MARTIN: And...

KING: Very difficult then.

MARTIN: It is very difficult, because he is a young man who has accepted a lot of things in life and he now knows that his best friend is not sitting there across from him and she is missing. So it is difficult for him as well as for both of his parents.

KING: She was his best friend, as well as his sister

MARTIN: They were very close.

KING: And I mentioned, Web site, that's an e-mail site:,

MARTIN: That is the e-mail address.

KING: The 800 is 1-800-860-6552.


KING: Police have said they doubt now, suicide. Do you doubt suicide?

MARTIN: Larry, the family has never believed that Chandra would take her own life and commit suicide. So that has never been a belief that the family thought would go forward. But I can say that we would like to keep every possibility open as we continue our investigation.

But there is nothing in the background or experiences of Chandra that would indicate that she would take her own life. That is the type of information 11 1/2 weeks ago, that we think that Congressman Condit could have helped us with, but the answer is a firm, no, we don't believe she has taken her life.

KING: So there's only two answers: She ran away, or she has been harmed. And you hope the first answer is correct.

MARTIN: The family hopes that and they hope to see her again -- if that is not accurate, we hope to find out what's happened to Chandra.

KING: Could they conceive of her running away?

MARTIN: The family said that no, that has never happened, and that is not something -- normally Larry, when investigators look into runaways, there is something in the background, as they grow up, that indicates they may do this. There is nothing in Chandra Levy's background to indicate, that she would ever runaway, interviews with her friends, not just her family, do not support a runaway theory.

KING: Billy, do you think Congressman Condit should come on television?

MARTIN: Larry, I think he has to decide what's best but I know that as a criminal lawyer, I would not want my client to go forward and give any type of statements or testimony. As a politician, he may owe his constituents an answer, but with the misinformation that has come out of his office, I think he does have to correct the record. Yes.

KING: Billy, thanks, we will be calling on you again, we really appreciate your appearing with us tonight.

MARTIN: Larry, it is always a pleasure and thank you.

KING: Billy Martin, the attorney for the Levy family. His first interview since taking this case.

As we go to break, before we meet our panel, here is some more from the statement tonight by Mrs. Levy. Watch.


S. LEVY: ...we know what we have -- want our daughter here, there are certain things Mr. Condit did not come forth in very beginning in this when I first called him on a specific line, and I asked a specific question, and I don't feel he has been very truthful to me, and I think someone out there knows the truth, someone knows where my daughter is, and that is all I could say.



KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Let's meet our panel. They are, in Washington, Barbara Olson, former federal prosecutor, best-selling author of "Hell to Pay." In Los Angeles, Laura Ingraham, former criminal defense attorney, former clerk for Judge Clarence Thomas and a host of her own show on the Westwood One radio network.

Also in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, defense attorney. His clients have included Roger Clinton and Susan McDougal. And in Washington, Michael Zeldin, the former prosecutor, former independent counsel. Six years defense attorney in Washington.

We'll start with Barbara. What did you make of the appearance of Billy Martin tonight?

BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it sort of leaves you leaves with you the feeling of what this is really about, is that there is a missing person, and the real torture the family is going through. And it's one of the things that we've focused on, is the fact that, affairs aside and careers aside, Gary Condit really does owe it to the family to tell everything he knows.

A witness doesn't necessarily know where evidence -- it may be inconsequential to them -- is very important when it fits into the puzzle, trying to figure out where she is and what she was thinking in those last moments before she disappeared.

KING: Mark?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the most telling thing was the fact that Billy Martin couldn't keep a straight face when you asked him if he was the lawyer for Gary Condit, would you have him take the lie detector test. And No. 2, you haven't heard the D.C. police say in any way, shape or form that he hasn't been cooperating. He's done everything he needs to do.

I think today it was important that Abbe Lowell was out there talking and answering those questions, saying if you need anything else, we're willing to do it. We're willing to consider any options whatsoever. I think he needs to do that, in terms of a political strategy, to go along with the legal strategy.

But as far as him owing anything more than what he's done, which is to put his wife in there, have her interviewed, to put himself there and be talked to by the police three times, cooperate in any way, shape or form, I don't know what more he can do.

OLSON: Mark, it's not owing. It's the truth. He owes the truth. We have a missing person. This is not a matter of a straight face or not a straight face. This is a serious situation...

GERAGOS: Barbara, there is no crime. It's a missing person. He has talked to the police three times. What more does he need to do?

OLSON: And every time he has given a little -- he needs to tell the truth to the police. Finally, on Friday night...

GERAGOS: The police have not said...

OLSON: Well, because we know he didn't reveal this relationship until Friday night. That's critical.

KING: Before we go full swing here, let's get in our other panelist -- Laura.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FORMER CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's not at all surprising, Larry, that Chandra Levy's parents feel that Gary Condit has eroding credibility. Yes, he came out Friday night and we were doing the show Friday night, saying, well, yes, I had an affair. He had to be dragged kicking and screaming in order to finally tell the truth about the nature of his relationship, which is fundamental to this investigation, frankly.

And now Abbe Lowell comes out today attacking the press? If it weren't for the press, would Gary Condit have gone to the police on Friday night after he was bludgeoned in the press all week -- and rightly so? Would he have done that? I don't think he would have.

KING: How about the example I brought up to Billy, though. What if you're Gary Condit. You have a relationship with someone, now she's gone. You have no idea where she is, you don't know what it is. You're afraid to admit it, now you do admit it. What do you do now?

INGRAHAM: It's very frustrating. Unfortunately he got himself in this situation by not telling the truth initially.

KING: What does he do now?

INGRAHAM: What he does now, I think, is he says, look, I am going to talk about the relationship publicly, I'm going to apologize to my constituents. I have broken the public trust. However, a lie detector test is not reliable. I don't blame his attorney for not wanting him to take one, but the problem is now he looks more suspicious.

KING: Should he meet with the Levys?

INGRAHAM: I think he should. I don't think it's going to make any difference. If I were her mother, I would have never left Washington until he gave those answers to those questions. She left.

KING: Let's bring in Michael Zeldin for his thoughts -- Michael.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think there are a couple things that we've heard from Billy. One is, there's the legal side of this case. Mark has talked about that a little bit. What does Gary Condit owe as a matter of law, and that is to cooperate with the police as best he is able to. And the police have been satisfied with his cooperation.

The second question is the moral matter. What moral obligation does Gary Condit owe to the Levys, and that's where he's been most deficient. I think that he owes them an opportunity to sit down with him, to ask them any questions he wants, including what he told the police, so that they can find peace in the knowledge that he is being truthful with the police. And I think that's where the differences are between these two sides in this case at the moment.

KING: Isn't to fair, Barbara? If nothing else, to talk to the family. I mean, they're the ones that have a definite interest.

OLSON: Well, exactly. And from what they said, they're the ones that he lied to. He gave them answers about when he last talked to their daughter, which, obviously, are very critical, since he talked to her the day before she disappeared.

I think he owes them to sit down. Legally, Michael is absolutely right. There are two issues. Morally, you know, this man, what he did to their daughter -- this is a girl who thought she was going to marry him and have his baby. And whether he's involved in her disappearance or not, he is involved in her life, and certainly as involved in her life up until the time she disappeared.

So the parents' peace of mind, I think, just humanity calls for that.

KING: Mark?

ZELDIN: You could have asked a question to Billy Martin -- take it in reverse. If this was your client, would you have him sit down with the Levys? And he would say, absolutely not.

There's no way in the world that somebody in this kind of investigation, after they've talked to the police three times, the police have said that he's cooperated, the lawyer has said under certain conditions we'll make our staff available, we'll make other people available -- you're not going to do anything more at that point, because at that point it's almost ludicrous.

INGRAHAM: He making a valid point.

KING: One at a time. Michael, then Laura. Michael?

ZELDIN: I think, Mark, you're wrong about that. I think that you'll you see in, the coming days, Abbe Lowell and Billy Martin sitting down and working out the terms by which their two clients speak to one another. These guys have known each for a long time and I think that there is a relationship between them that's going to forge that divide, that might not otherwise be forged in the normal case.

GERAGOS: And if that's the case, Michael, I'll tell you -- if that's the reason they're going to talk, because there's a relationship between them, then Abbe Lowell needs to step aside and they need to get a different lawyer.


ZELDIN: No, because it's not a criminal case. You're approaching it from a criminal case.


GERAGOS: I'm telling you, it may not be a criminal case but it's rapidly going to become a criminal case.

KING: Laura, you have the floor.

INGRAHAM: Well, look. What we had today was we had Abbe Lowell indignant, in front of the cameras, indignant about the way his client was treated. Now, let's step back for a moment. Let's think of what happened over the last 11 weeks. His client did not do everything he could to help the police. He's saying we want to get Chandra back, that's our goal. No, it wasn't his goal. His goal was to save his own rear end, which is understandable. You can understand that. But it wasn't a noble goal, and now we're supposed to all beat up the press. That's what Abbe Lowell came out and said today. The press is the reason why Gary Condit came to the police on Friday night. That is the reason.

KING: Do you agree with Billy Martin then, that the press has been invaluable in this?

INGRAHAM: Absolutely invaluable. And of course, it's a salacious story. Is the press veracious? Is the press a little bit hard-headed? Are they going to be mean? Yes, but it's like a sailor complaining about the tide. That's the way it is. That -- he's a politician. The press is going to eat this up. Of course it is. The press helped enormously in this case, Larry.

GERAGOS: But understand something here. What Billy has done has been magnificent for his clients. He's kept this story front and center. You don't hear about Robert Blake anymore, where you actually had a crime.

INGRAHAM: Let's talk about that case, too.


GERAGOS: Here you have a case where there isn't even a crime, and it has longer legs, if you will, because of the Condit angle to it.

ZELDIN: Which is why, Mark, Abbe Lowell recognizing that is going to sit down with the Levys to try to take this case off of the front pages, because the best way that he can do that to represent his client in this case is to make that there are no further allegations of lack of cooperation by his client.

KING: Let me get a break. When we come back, we'll show you a statement that the Congressman made sometime back and get your comments. Don't go away.


SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S MOTHER: We definitely need the support and the prayers from everyone. And we just are hoping and praying that the truth will come out. And that, yes, we did give, as I mentioned earlier, authorization for Billy Martin to ask and request that there is a polygraph test to be given. We don't feel that the truth has been given to us. I really want the truth and we want our daughter home alive.



KING: We are back. While Gary Condit is keeping pretty mum about the Chandra Levy matter, he took a different tack when it came to the Monica Lewinsky affair. He had this to say in September of '98 as the House Judiciary Committee skirmished over the release of Bill Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony and reams of sexually explicit documents. Watch.


REP. GARY CONDIT (D), CALIFORNIA: You can't get to closing this issue without getting all the information out there. And you know, is there a better way to do this? Probably so, but we've got what we've got, and the fact is, is the information is going to get out eventually anyway. Let's just do it all at once, see where the chips fall and then let's get on to making a decision of what we're going to do about what we think happened.

KING: Barbara, is that coming around to haunt him?

OLSON: Oh, it's deja vu all over again. It's amazing. I mean, the more that we've heard about this, the more you wonder how people can go through impeachment, especially as Representative Condit did, make statements about getting it all out, see how driven out, incorrect and untruthful information is so damaging politically. And here we had his staff at the very beginning saying they were just good friends.

And you know, most people who worked on the Hill would say staff doesn't make these statements unless they're authorized by the member. And it's crazy. I think the lesson is (a) people don't learn, and (b) if you get in one of these situations, don't lie. Either say nothing or say the truth.

And what Mr. Condit said back then in impeachment was true. Get it all out. Once you have given an incorrect statement and lied to the public, it's true. It is a call to the media to try to find the truth. And they did it.

KING: Mark, law aside -- hold on a second, Michael. Law aside, once something breaks, in the world of media today, if it's true you ought to come out with it?

GERAGOS: I've often said that and I've done it with most of my clients who are in these kinds of eye of the storm kind of cases. If there is a situation where the client is inundated with this media attention, a lot of times I think the best thing is to have the client out there front and center.

But in a case like this, and based upon what's happened so far, and fact that he's talked to the police, there are certain issues, I think, legally, that take precedence over the moral issues. And unfortunately that's the reality of it.

KING: Laura is smiling.

INGRAHAM: Oh, I won't talk about Susan McDougal's lack of saying a few things on the record.

GERAGOS: Susan McDougal was here with Larry, actually in the jail with Larry... INGRAHAM: No, I couldn't resist. When you said, "I tell my clients to get everything out on the table, I just couldn't resist."

But you can't blame Chandra Levy's parents for wanting the information out. Of course they want him to say anything publicly, because frankly, when he has spoken publicly -- spoken to the investigators, the investigators have found out that he has contradicted himself, whether through implication or explicitly. Allowing these rumors to surface about an obsessed woman. How many times have we heard that, Larry? You know, a woman falls in love with a married man and suddenly she's an obsessed stalker. You know, we've heard that story...

KING: But the executive assistant police chief also says he doesn't believe he had anything to do with her disappearance.

INGRAHAM: And I think that is why this is so difficult for him. If I didn't find him so repulsive right now, I would feel a little sorry for him, because he probably did have nothing to do with this. But he is now backed into this corner.

GERAGOS: There's nobody who believes he had anything to do with this. I mean, that's kind of the irony of the situation.


KING: Michael, you're in now.

ZELDIN: It's interesting. Barbara says that -- and everyone has said that Congressman Condit has lied throughout this. Yet all the statements from the police are that he has been completely cooperative with them. So you've got a funny dynamic here, which is that -- let me finish the point. The media and most our perception is lack of truthfulness, except the police are not saying the same thing. So Condit's in a funny position between cooperating with the police and what they perceive him to be and cooperating with us in the media and what we want him to be, which is why he's in this funny position, which is why he's getting the type of advice that he would be getting from Mark, which is to stand pat on his legal obligations, which I think, in this case, is morally wrong and probably will not help him in legal terms.

But the police have said over and over he is cooperating.


OLSON: The problem is, the police have said on the record that he has been forthcoming. Yes, on the record he has been forthcoming, and every police source has called him Clintonesque. He has not been forthcoming. He misstated facts.

So we've gotten two versions. We've got on the record that he's not a target and that he's been forthcoming, and yet every news source...

GERAGOS: Barbara, how do you know that the police aren't telling him, we don't want you to talk in public. We think this is a side show. That's exactly what the D.C. police chief was saying.

OLSON: Mark, you're a good enough attorney. You know you would use that in a minute.

GERAGOS: I'm telling you that the police -- often in cases like this, in missing person cases, especially where there's this kind of intense attention to collateral matters, would say don't do it. Don't go out there and talk. We've got the information.

INGRAHAM: As a practical matter, Larry, and a legal matter here, it's true that the focus on Gary Condit can indeed be helpful, but it also can be hurtful to the investigation. She could have been abducted from the street that day. They could have been focusing on him to exclusion of all these other witnesses. That is true. The problem is Gary Condit set this ball in motion. He is the one that started this down the track.

OLSON: And Laura, you're right, but the unforgivable thing was Gary Condit not being as forthcoming in that first interview made the police do the work to find out the information that he finally gave up on Friday.

KING: All right, let me get a break and we'll come back with Michael. We'll come right back with more of our panel, and then a visit in the final moments with on of America's really top journalists who's taken on a new job. Don't go away.


TORRANCE GAINER, ASSISTANT CHIEF, D.C. POLICE: 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.



KING: We're back. We're running close on time. Quick closing comment from each. This panel will of course be back in this never ending tale. Barbara, it's going to be -- are we going to have some conclusion or just go on and on?

OLSON: One has to assume at some point they will find Chandra. And certainly, that will eliminate certain suspects and hopefully bring closure for the parents, whether she's alive or not.

KING: Mark?

GERAGOS: Well, obviously. I mean, it's only a matter of time. As we stated before, it's a horrible problem. It's emblematic of what has happened in Washington, D.C. with females of this age group. I mean, 1/3 of the females who disappear in this age group in the nation are out of Washington, D.C. That's what a lot of people should be focusing on.

KING: No guarantee, Laura, we'll ever have a conclusion.

INGRAHAM: No guarantee, but what we have seen is that Gary Condit has hurt himself enormously. Politically, without question. I think he's dead in the water, and we learn from Gary Hart that you can't attack the press and expect that you're going to get better treatment from the press.

KING: Michael, you certainly agree with that, right?

ZELDIN: Well, I agree with that and I think what you're going to see here over time is that if Gary Condit makes amends, speaks to the family, erases himself from being a suspect, then the pressure is going to be turned on to the police. And we're going to see a lot of sort of JonBenet sort of second-guessing about what they've done or not done in this case.

KING: That's next. We thank our panel very much. Always good have them with us. We thank Billy Martin.

When we come back, we will talk with the new chairman and CEO of CNN News Group, a name very familiar to all of you from "Time" Magazine days to appearances on this show as well, Walter Isaacson.

Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back.

The only thing certain in life is uncertainty. We congratulate the new chairman and CEO of CNN News Group, he's at headquarters in Atlanta. He was most recently the editorial director of "Time" Incorporated. Before we talk about the post and your taking of it, what do you make of this Condit story as a story?

WALTER ISAACSON, INCOMING CEO, CNN NEWS GROUP: You know, look, news comes in all different formats, things that touch our hearts, touch our minds and hit on our fears. You know, it's a bit of a summer news story. I think if there was other major news breaking, it wouldn't be playing as big. But it is a perfectly valid story because it's a type of thing that people care about.

And whatever people are talking about, if we can shed light on it, that's what the news is.

KING: You have covered politicians for years; why are they always hesitant to come forward when something breaks?

ISAACSON: You know, I think it's in the nature of politics to spend, it's in the nature of politics to try to create illusions, people who want to be on stage, people whose ego is this strange mix of strong ego but also insecurity. I guess you find that a lot in politics. I remember when I started at "Time" Magazine -- I'm going tell a story when I first met you, Larry -- I was covering politics out the Washington bureau. Covering the two most interesting people of the time: Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy. That was back in 1979.

And you had a talk radio show after midnight out of Alexandria, Virginia.

KING: That's right.

ISAACSON: Remember that? I used to come over to your studio then and try to get people to talk about politics -- every now and then we would talk about football in your telephone lines -- but politicians were a strange breed, they are an interesting breed, and they are larger than life and sometimes their sins and flaws are larger than life.

KING: Why have you made this change and how did it come about to leave -- you're a print guy, I mean, you made many appearances on the broadcast, but you are a print guy all your life, written books; why this?

ISAACSON: Well, all my life what I really been is a journalist, ever since back in the days when I was growing up in my first job in New Orleans at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) covering police headquarters and city hall.

I really like journalism, which means hard reporting, telling a story, trying to be honest in your reporting, and trying to be fair, understanding what people are talking about at the dinner table and seeing if you can get more facts for them on that.

I like journalism. And I believe that journalism really should be at the core of what CNN does. And sometimes, you know, in cable news, all that sort of thing, we lose sight of what is the real calling: Why are we really here?

There are a lot of good TV people here at CNN. There's Phil Kent, Eason Jordan, Jamie Kellner, people like you, Wendy Whitworth, your producer, they all know TV.

What I hope to bring is to instill this sense of mission that if we get our facts right and we report good and interesting stories, journalism can be a good thing and so I guess I'm coming here as a journalist, Larry.

KING: Is it -- this change in your life, you are going from living in New York to living in Atlanta -- that's a big difference. You are replacing someone who was enormously popular, Tom Johnson.

ISAACSON: Tom was a great guy, a man of enormous integrity and honor. And brought great honor to this business. I was with him tonight here in Atlanta; we gave a little party for him. Ted Turner, the visionary who founded this network was there. I look at the shoes of Tom Johnson and realize, it's going to take a whole lot of us to really fulfill that mandate and the legacy that CNN brings to this world, not just to America.

KING: How about living in Atlanta?

ISAACSON: Hey, I'm a southerner.

KING: That's right. You're a New Orleans boy.

ISAACSON: And my wife, Kathy (ph), was down here today and we were looking at apartments; I will be up at New York a lot too, because a lot of the shows we have come out of New York, so I will be shuttling back and forth.

You know, by the way, if you grew up in New Orleans and you spend summers in New Orleans, you don't think it's hot in Atlanta in the summer. So I can at least survive this July and August in Atlanta.

KING: Was there a tough time making this decision -- you know, you have been with "Time" a lot of years?

ISAACSON: Not really. It's the best darn job in the world, Larry, being able to take CNN, you know, which everywhere you go to every corner of this planet. I have sat there in hotel rooms in Bratislava watching young kids go into the foreign hotels they could watch CNN and watch what was happening as communism was falling. And it was inspiring.

And I've been in Kaskar (ph), near the Gobi Desert, watching kids call up, because they want information, and they realize that free and honest information in this world is what's going to spread democracy and spread freedom and that's what CNN stands for. And nobody, in his right mind, who loves journalism, would give up the opportunity to say, hey, I can help here.

KING: Congratulations, Walter, we look forward to seeing lots of you. It's been great having you as a friend all these years, working with you; now it is going to be great to work directly with you.

ISAACSON: It will be great working with you. And I hope that doesn't mean I can't ever been on your show again...

KING: You can be on!

ISAACSON: It was nice to have you and Wendy to have me back tonight. I hope to see you in California the day after tomorrow.

KING: I will get over, come by and say hello. Thanks, Walter.

ISAACSON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Walter Isaacson, we thank our panel earlier. We remind you that tomorrow night, Bill Bennett will be with us to discuss what's happened to the morals in America and what is going on with elected officials and interns. Bill Bennett tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

We thank all of our guests tonight. Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT".

Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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