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Police Want Condit Polygraph, DNA Tests

Aired July 10, 2001 - 16:49   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.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: You see the microphones are set up there. Let's see what the D.C. police chief has to say about the latest in the Chandra Levy case.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: I wanted to give you an update on where we are on the Chandra Levy case. We have spoken with Congressman Condit's attorney about the offers that were made yesterday, relative to collection of DNA samples, search of the apartment and taking a polygraph examination. And we want to take him up on that offer. So we are working with Mr. Condit's attorney in order to arrange dates, times, locations and so forth in order to make that a reality.

I think it's time that once and for all we find out exactly where we are with this case. We have information that has been dribbling in in bits and pieces over a period of time. We need to be in a position to get finality on some of the questions that we have concerning the disappearance of Miss Levy.

QUESTION: Sir, what do you think you want to know in the polygraph, what is it you want to clear up?

RAMSEY: Well, the exact nature of the relationship, any information he might have around state of mind, any locations where he feels she might want to go. There are numerous questions that have been asked, but again we need just get some kind of clarity around this and since the offer was so generously made we want to make sure that we take advantage of that.

QUESTION: What you be looking for in a search?

RAMSEY: We would look for any evidence that might lead to helping us better understand what happened to Chandra Levy. That's what we would be looking for, any evidence at all that may be present. He has offered a search of his apartment and we are going to take him up on that. We don't know what if anything would be there but we are going to take him up on that.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not a suspect?

RAMSEY: As far as the timeline around this whole thing, that is what is being discussed now, but the sooner the better. Our feeling is, and we are prepared to go now if we need to, but the sooner the better but we are trying to do this by working with Mr. Condit's attorney, who has made this offer and we need to now work with him in order to make it a reality. But I would hope a very, very short period of time, and when I say very short, I mean within a day or two at the maximum we ought to be able to get this ironed out.

QUESTION: Chief, as I recall, Abbe Lowell said -- on the question of lie detector -- Abbe Lowell said he would have to talk about it with Congressman Condit. He didn't exactly agree to do it.

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I would like him to talk to him about it because I think it's a good idea and since he raised the issue let's see how far we can take it. I'm not going to turn it down, so I'm certain he wants to put this to rest just as much as the rest of us do and he will talk to his client do everything he can to convince him that it is in the best interest of everyone concerned, to answer the questions for the family and for us as investigators.

QUESTION: Just yesterday Abbe Lowell said that police had not asked to search the apartment and had not asked for the phone records. Have you have asked Mr. Lowell to allow a lie detector to be taken in this case?

RAMSEY: We have already had that discussion with him, yes.

QUESTION: What was the response?

RAMSEY: His response was, he will get back to us.

QUESTION: Can you take us technically through what the search will entail? When you go in, how will you do it and what specifically will you be looking for?

RAMSEY: Members of our crime scene search will conduct the search and again, any evidence at all that might help us answer the question what happened to Chandra Levy. I am not going to go into too much detail. Some of that is technical in terms of what they do in crime-scene search. And certainly the FBI has been working along with us.

But the people, once they get inside will be looking to see if there is anything that could lead us any closer to finding out where she is.

QUESTION: Is anyone else suspect to a polygraph right now?

QUESTION: Is a suspect -- is not a suspect? Can you clarify that and whether or not information has come into your possession since (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ?

RAMSEY: Well, you used the term "suspect" and again we don't have a crime that we know of yet so we are not talking about suspects in any case. However, an offer has been made and it would be irresponsible on our part not to take advantage of it. If we are able to get the sample, if we are able to conduct a search, if we are able to do a polygraph, that should go a long way toward putting this particular part of the investigation to rest one way or the other. And that's all we are attempting to do here.

QUESTION: Saturday night Chief Gainer said we challenged him for clarity and he provided clarity. So, can you explain that?

RAMSEY: Well, clarity and verification. If that had worked we wouldn't be standing here now. Obviously it's not settled the minds of a lot of people. I do feel for the Levy family. I do feel they have a right to know once and for all. They raised a valid point. Hopefully we will be able to do that. We all understand the limitations of polygraphs but it is a good investigative tool and one that we won't hesitate to use.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for the family's peace of mind more than your investigative procedures?

RAMSEY: I think it's both. I think we have to be conscious of both. The Levys are suffering a great deal now, but is an investigative tool. We would be requesting that the FBI conduct that particular examination. They have the experts to do it, world renowned. We can't think of a better organization to conduct such an examination.

QUESTION: A lot of people would say that the congressman received special treatment.

RAMSEY: I'm not going to get into any details around how many we have done in any particular way. I can guarantee you we have not given special treatment to anyone. We are investigating a missing person. We are doing everything we possibly can to bring this to a successful conclusion, and that is answering the question of what happened to Chandra Levy.

That is what we are concerned about. That is what we want to do. We want to stay focused. We don't want to be side-tracked into other issues. We want to know once and for all whether or not pursuing this part of the investigation is world while.

QUESTION: Chief, there was some forensic evidence that was described in a news report this morning in the congressman's apartment. Will you be asking for those particular pieces of clothing?

RAMSEY: We are not going to talk about specific things we are going to do in terms of collection of evidence. There are some things that I am still not able to discuss. But we wouldn't be going in there to conduct a search if we weren't in a position to collect something that may in fact be evidence. But again, understand that that is not saying that he is a suspect. It's not saying that we expect to find anything. But when an offer like this is made, we are doing the responsible thing and that is certainly following up on that offer.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

RAMSEY: We haven't been made the offer until now.

QUESTION: Is there anyone else besides Condit right now?

RAMSEY: We are talking to a lot of people and we will continue to talk to a lot of people.

QUESTION: Is he the only person subject to a polygraph right now?

RAMSEY: Well, I am not going to into that, but that's a tool we will use with anyone who we feel we need to use it with.

QUESTION: Have you received any information?

RAMSEY: Would you repeat that?

QUESTION: You said you had information that's dribbled in. Have you received any helpful information?

RAMSEY: Yes, we feel we have gotten some information that has been helpful. We appreciate everything the public has done. I want to compliment Billy Martin and his group for everything that they have done to try to help find some solutions to this case. None of us have been successful in trying to answer outstanding question, but there's a lot of time and energy been put into this and we are just working as hard as we can to answer as many questions definitively as we possibly can. That's why we think this is a good idea.

QUESTION: Chief, would you agree with Abbe Lowell in saying that the congressman has been cooperative right from the beginning? How would you characterize that?

RAMSEY: Let me just say that we have had three interviews to date. That's how many interviews it's taken to get to where we are right now in terms of information. I would rather look forward than behind and if the offer is being made right now to allow to us search, to give samples, to take a polygraph, then certainly we want to take advantage of that. And that puts all that to rest.

QUESTION: Is a landfill search going on or is that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

RAMSEY: That is all part of those things and we are planning to do a lot of things. We are not going to going give actual schedules as to when we do what, but certainly we are looking at every avenue. We think that there is one of three possibilities, although the first is becoming increasingly remote, that is the possibility of suicide.

But the longer this goes the more unlikely that becomes simply because we haven't recovered a body. The second is that she's missing but she's missing of her own free will and doesn't want to be found and third is that she met with foul play. We, quite frankly, don't have any evidence right now that would point us strongly toward any of those three. That's why we are treating it as a missing person. The only thing we know we have right now is a missing person.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) search for any evidence (UNINTELLIGIBLE) blood?

RAMSEY: Well a standard search is anything that we think would be of evidentiary value. But again, the officers that will do the search are very experienced. They know when they go in what to look for and that's what we will do.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

RAMSEY: Again, there is not much we haven't done in this case here that I can think of and obviously certain basic things such as computers, phones, things of that nature obviously, that's all part of things that one would look at not only for this individual but for any person that we have been interviewing. It's an ongoing process. A lot of records, a lot of things to go through. But we aren't going to exclude anything in our efforts to try to answer the question to what happened to Chandra Levy.

That is the question we need to have answered.

QUESTION: Are you still at the point where your only way into his apartment is with his consent? In other words, do you still lack what it would take to obtain a search warrant?

RAMSEY: We obviously need to work with our U.S. Attorney which we have done from day one and we have asked a lot of questions around issues such as searches not only in this case, but in other cases. And that's what we'll continue to do. We have to work within the framework of the constitution and within the framework of the law.

However, this is different in that we have been invited someplace, and a person has a right to invite us into there home to allow us voluntarily to conduct a search, to voluntarily give up a sample, to voluntarily submit to a polygraph examination. And that's what we're taking advantage of right now.

QUESTION: Have you given him his Miranda warnings?

RAMSEY: No.

QUESTION: Chief, have you already obtained telephone records?

RAMSEY: Again, we're not going to get into where we're at with all that, but suffice it to say that we've exhausted all the avenues that we feel are important right now. This is a new one that's just opened up, and we're once again moving as quickly as we can to take advantage of it.

I only hope that through this the family finds some comfort in getting some answers to some questions, and that's why we're doing it even though by law, we could not publicly discuss the actual questions and the results. But I'm certain that through Mr. Lowell and others perhaps if they feel like making that available, of course, that again is their option.

QUESTION: Chief, it's been hardly mentioned there might be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) medical condition, a pregnancy or other condition. Are you aware of any...

RAMSEY: I can't get -- I've not heard anything nor have I read anything in any newspaper, magazine, tabloid, TV station or anything else that was news to me.

QUESTION: That was news to you?

QUESTION: You might know something. Do you think she was pregnant?

RAMSEY: I'm just saying that if the question was: Had I heard and have we looked into that, I've not heard anything or seen anything that we have not heard, that we have not looked into, that we have not followed up on the best of our ability but we've not been able to confirm.

QUESTION: Chief, given that it's been nine weeks since she disappeared, isn't this search of his apartment a little less valuable today than it would have been then?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, that remains to be seen. But I think that history and forensics have shown that certain types of evidence don't degrade over time and that there's still some benefit to it. Again, you know, we're working within the framework of the Constitution, and you just don't barge into folks' House and do searches without the legal right to do so. And that's what we're doing.

QUESTION: Did you seek a legal right and it was turned down?

RAMSEY: Let's just say that's not the first time that issue came up.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the conversation that the U.S. attorney's office plan on having with Ms. Smith tomorrow? Will they pursue obstruction of justice?

RAMSEY: I don't have no -- you'd have to speak with the U.S. attorney about what they plan to do in that regard in terms of any interviews. And I'm certain that they'll tell you the same thing I'm going to tell you, and that is we're not going to talk about that particular facet of an investigation or any specifics as to the kinds of questions we'll be asking.

QUESTION: To be clear, when did you specifically notify the congressman and his attorney that you were going to take him up on his offer?

RAMSEY: Well, it's been within a couple of hours probably.

QUESTION: Chief, is the FBI going to be present in the apartment with the search with your investigators?

RAMSEY: Well, once we get all the details worked out around this, we'll put together a team of people to go into be able to conduct this. And certainly, we've been working as a group before and there's no reason for us not to continue that. QUESTION: Typically, is the person present during a search like this?

RAMSEY: It's up to the person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thanks, chief.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: The D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey wrapping up his session with reporters outside his offices there. Talking about the possibility that the D.C. police are going to take up Congressman Condit's lawyer on the offer, have a look around the congressman's apartment, and also pursuing the possibility of a polygraph test for the congressman.

Joining us from our Washington bureau is CNN's Bob Franken who's been covering this story.

Bob, can you read between the lines a little bit on what the chief was telling the reporters out there and give us what he's really getting at?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some very, very clear indications by the chief that this has not been as smooth a pattern of cooperation as we have been led to believe. For instance, when it came time to talk about the interviews that had been done, the chief suggested that the lie detector test would be useful for clarity and, quote, "verification." Very interesting that they feel that the lie detector test could be used to test whether the congressman had told them the truth.

When it came time to talk about how forthcoming he'd been, the chief said, "We've had three interviews to date. That's how many times it has taken us to get to where we are now," suggesting that perhaps Congressman Condit could have made their lives easier by answering the questions in a forthcoming way at the first interview.

Now regarding the search for the apartment, we seem to have learned from the chief of police that although now the congressman's attorney, Abbe Lowell, is saying. "Come on in. Take a search of the apartment," the chief made it clear that this is not the first time that this matter had come up, suggesting that the police had requested some sort of search and it had been turned down.

And there was not a belief on the part of the police investigators that they had enough evidence to go seek to search the apartment. So the police chief was saying that the polygraph is needed. They're also going to take up the congressman on his offer to provide DNA. And the congressman's attorney, Abbe Lowell, said that although he doesn't have a high regard for polygraphs, they're going to discuss the matter.

So the police are saying, "We'll discuss it." The police suggested that this be done by the FBI, and that could be a subject of negotiations. Sometimes attorneys want to have their own experts do this.

So this is quite a few disclosures. We have reported earlier that the police did, in fact, want the polygraph test. As we also know, the Levy family, the parents of Chandra Levy, wanted the polygraph also saying that they are no longer able to believe Congressman Condit.

That was based on the fact that on Friday night, according to police sources, Condit told investigators in this third interview that he indeed had a romantic relationship with Chandra Levy, something that he had at least publicly denied for some time. The parents have insisted and their attorney, Billy Martin, has insisted that there should be a polygraph test. They now have as allies the D.C. police -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Bob Franken, who's been covering the Chandra Levy investigation from Washington joining us from our Washington bureau.

Reminder to our viewers, coming up on CNN's "First Evening News" at 6:00 Eastern, just about an hour from now, a little bit less than that now with CNN's Leon Harris, there's going to be an interview with the assistant police chief of the District of Columbia. That is Terry Gainer. He will appear alive with Leon Harris on CNN's "First Evening News.

That's going to do it for the CNN news site this afternoon. Please remember to join us online tomorrow. Move ahead now to "Inside Politics" after a break.

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