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Condit Breaking Silence

Aired August 21, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, what should Gary Condit say? How should he say it? After nearly four months of public silence on the disappearance of his intern/lover Chandra Levy, can a 30 minute interview with Connie Chung save the married congressman's career?

Squaring off for another no-holds barred debate in Washington, former prosecutor, best-selling author Barbara Olson. In San Diego, another former federal prosecutor, Cynthia Alksne. Here in Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos, and with him the former chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee Julian Epstein.

Plus, expert perspective from two PR pros. In Las Vegas, the man who has given image advice to Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Mike Tyson -- Sig Rogich. And in New York, the man who practically wrote the book on PR, the author of "The Practice of Public Relations," Frazier Seitel. All that and your calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE!

Good evening. We will call on our PR experts in our second segment and parts of the third segment for their thoughts on this. Our panel will be with us all the way.

We start the panel with some breaking news. It has been announced that that letter that the congressman is sending to his constituents will go out tomorrow. Apparently, over 300,000 letters, timed to be received by the citizens the day of the interview with Connie Chung. The also further announcement that he will be doing other interviews, including a local media interview in Modesto right after the interview with Connie Chung.

What do you make of that, Barbara? Apparently, the splash is on.

BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The splash is on, and Gary Condit is in full reelection campaign mode. It is interesting, though, I mean, we have now learned that this interview is going to be limited to 30 minutes. And so, that is a real question -- and of course, we know the local interview Gary Condit is going to want to talk more about local issues.

But with Connie Chung, how many questions can you ask in 30 minutes? You are the expert at that. But you know if a guest wants to talk very slowly, it is tough to keep interrupting and rush them up if they want to sort of weave their way through. So I think there may be a little less than we hoped to get, but 30 minutes -- and now we know it's live to tape, in other words, although they are going to tape it, it's going to be put on in total, no editing, which means that although the network can't edit it, it also means that Gary Condit is much more in control of the time, much more in control of the pacing of the interview.

KING: In a 30-minute interview -- it depends how expansive the guest is. Julian, if he is terse and gives short answers, you can ask 100 questions. If he gives long-winded answers, you could ask three questions.


KING: And he doesn't have to answer. He could always say on advice of counsel, I don't want to. But anyway, what do you make of the news that there will be other media appearances and that it's 30 minutes?

EPSTEIN: Well, Tip O'Neill of course said that all politics is local, and I think Gary Condit and his media advisers understand that he has got to touch base locally, he's got to communicate with the people that elected him.

KING: As long as he wants to run again.

EPSTEIN: If he wants to run again. And I think, you know, if you go back and you study, say, 15 or 20 of the scandals that we have seen in the last 30 years, either involving presidents or members of Congress, many of them involving sex scandals, you constantly hear people say, what you have to do in these scandals is you have to tell everything, you have to tell it early.

It's really much, much more complex than that. And if you break down each of these scandals that have occurred, from Wilbur Mills and Hayes and Congressman Gerry Studds and on down the line, you see it's a question of what the context is, how bad is the alleged misdeed, how likable is the candidate, ultimately. Remember, Teddy Kennedy, we had a missing -- we had a dead person, Teddy Kennedy actually survived in his Senate seat.

And you certainly have the factor of how well the person communicates, how effectively they communicate, whether they assume...

KING: That we don't know yet.

EPSTEIN: And that we don't know. All of these factors come into play in each of these scandals. We don't know how he is going to deal on the communication side of this thing, so we will have to see.

KING: Cynthia, what do you make of the announcement of other media appearances and a 30 minute limit?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, 30 minutes doesn't seem like very much to me. The -- as I'm thinking about how I would structure this interview, I realize that the -- the prosecutor in me has a very different set of questions than the human interest, sort of Connie Chung, you know, side of selling -- selling entertainment. And you know, one is, how did you meet her, what presents did you give her, what does your wife think, how is your family reaction? And the prosecutor in me wants to know, you know, everything he did every second, from the moment she disappeared. The prosecutor wants to know everything about the obstruction. The prosecutor in me wants to know everything about who he knows in the tristate area who has farms, who has boats, who has ranches.

So, the prosecutor in me is very different, and it will be interesting to see how she makes that balance. My guess is in 30 minutes you can't get a lot of relevant information that will help the investigation. And of course for me, every time you look at this case, I want to know whether or not we are helping the investigation or not, and this seems more like politics and less like helping find Chandra.

KING: Mark, why did the congressman insist on 30 minutes? What do you think?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think he didn't have to talk, he is going to talk, 30 minutes -- whether it's 30 minutes or an hour, I mean, Barbara would come up with the same -- Barbara would come up with the same objections if it were an hour, if it was 90 minutes. Barbara would have him under third-degree lights for two and a half hours if she could.

OLSON: TV lights are good enough.

GERAGOS: The fact of the matter is that the investigation has steered away from Gary Condit. The investigation has actually targeted somebody else. They know that, the police...

KING: Do you know that?

GERAGOS: Yeah, the -- Billy Martin's investigators have targeted somebody else. There is, as Julian and I were discussing off the air, there is three or four people, but from what I hear there is specifically one person that they have focused in on. So Gary Condit at this point is keeping it alive, or this story alive in the news media, but as far as the professional investigators go, Gary Condit is yesterday's news.

KING: But he has to respond. He has to do it.

GERAGOS: Well, because of the political -- his political career and the political ramifications, obviously. He has to get out. I think the letters are a good idea, I think that in the letter he is going to talk about things that people want to understand -- what did he do, when did he hear about this, whether or not, you know -- I mean, I think he -- as Julian has said before -- he has got to express his feelings about Chandra and whether or not he is upset, and I think clearly he is going to do that. And all of those things.

EPSTEIN: You know, one of the things, Larry, about this tabloidization of this whole issue -- and that's really what it has become. It has the cache of politics, of sex, of power -- one of the things that Mark and I have pointed out for some time, it does divert attention from where the real -- kind of keeping your eyes on the prize here, which is where is Chandra.

For several weeks now we have known that the police are actually proceeding three or four other leads that have nothing to do with Gary Condit, and as Mark says tonight, it seems now that the police are really beginning to focus on one person in particular that has, again, no connection to Gary Condit.

KING: You know all this.

GERAGOS: Which is amazing. It's an amazing thing, if you think about it...

OLSON: Yeah, but why does this continue?

GERAGOS: ... that Billy Martin is out there, still continuing this, because he has got Barbara, as you know, he has got dual motivations. He's doing a good job. He's keeping the story alive. The way to keep it alive is to hang Condit out there and keep using him.

KING: I want to get back on this -- hold on a second, Barbara. I'm going to come back, we are going to talk with our two PR people. If any of the panel has any questions for these two experts who deal with this all the time every day and have their whole careers we'll entertain that, and then we'll come back to this topic and the question of other police investigations.

As we go to break, here is what Billy Martin had to say just about an hour ago with Wolf Blitzer. Watch.


BILLY MARTIN, LEVY FAMILY ATTORNEY: The biggest one here information that could lead to information on Chandra's whereabouts or what happened to her. They don't really want to hear anything about the relationship. They don't want to know how he felt about Chandra. They don't want to know how Chandra felt about him. Those are issues that they would like to put behind them, all they really want is their daughter back.




ABBE LOWELL, CONDIT ATTORNEY: All through this process of the last three months, when everything was going on in Washington, he was in session, he was working. He was in committee votes, and he was working. He had a polygraph during that time, a search of his apartment, four interviews, and then Congress recessed. And the first thing he wanted to do was to go home and to get together with his family, and he has done that. And now that he has done that, he has said he wants to come out and talk to his constituents in a forum that makes sense. He can't talk to them individually by knocking on the door, so he will submit, he will sit down, he will organize an interview.


KING: Welcome back. That was Abbe Lowell speaking last week, on the program that follows this one, CNN TONIGHT. Joining us now in Las Vegas, and we'll get back to this other suspect concept in a little while, is Sig Rogich, president of Rogich Communications Group, a longtime political adviser. And in New York, the famed Fraser Seitel, the man who wrote book on PR, "the Practice of Public Relations" now in its 8th edition.

Sig, is this make or break for the congressman Thursday?

SIG ROGICH, ROGICH COMMUNICATIONS GROUP: I'm not sure about that. I question some of the motives behind it. And I am not sure if I wouldn't have started at the local level instead of doing it nationally. I think that they have looked at the numbers, the staff has, they determined that he is either going to get out of this mess by doing something dramatic and then make the determination whether he is even going to run again.

But I wondered about it when they announced it, and I'm not so sure that same type of interview locally and let the national press pick up on it.

KING: Fraser, what would your advice have been? What's your read on this?

FRASER SEITEL, "THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS": My read is that I think they are doing the right thing. I think that this man's credibility, his reputation, his viability as a candidate is what is at stake here. And if you assume he is not guilty, you make that assumption, then, with all due respect to the distinguished attorneys on the panel, part of the problem he has had is he has listened to his lawyer for public relations advice. And Abbe Lowell could be a great attorney but he is a lousy PR man.

KING: So you would have handled this differently from the get- go, Fraser?

SEITEL: From get-go what I would have done is I would have said if what he is guilty of is having an affair, reprehensible though it may be, he should have come out with it. Everybody suspected it. It came out with the police in Washington. Get it out -- if you are not guilty.

He can't help but look suspicious, and the challenge to this guy -- Julian said its complex -- in this case, it is very simple. His challenge on Thursday is to convince all those people who are watching him, who think he is guilty, to disabuse them of that notion.

KING: Sig, do you agree with that? ROGICH: Well, it's pretty hard to disagree with that. I would have come out clean, too. He did it in bits and pieces. He compounded his own problem. And then all of a sudden there was the potential charge that he was impeding the investigation, and I think that is still out there.

But I think ultimately he is doing this because he wants to run for reelection. And assuming that he is not guilty -- but he is guilty of the things that we just heard about, that is, the impropriety of the relationship -- then I still think it might have been smarter to make this the local answer. That is to start at home, and let national press pick up on that as opposed to the other way around.

KING: Fraser, do you prep him a lot? If you are his adviser are you with him all day Thursday? Do you make this is the event day of his life?

SEITEL: Absolutely, Larry. What you do is you treat this as a CEO before the annual meeting. You treat it as two presidential combatants in a debate. You give him every question. You say, Congressman, why did you go out and dump the watch? Why did you delay in speaking for so long? Why do you threaten to sue "The Washington Post"? Why didn't you talk? Why do you have the grin? All of this stuff you go over with him.

KING: Sig do you like the idea of 30 minutes?

ROGICH: Well, 30 minutes is never quite enough. And actually, I would have -- I'm surprised the network went for 30 minutes, but if that is all they can get, that is all they can get.

From the standpoint of him controlling his own destiny, I think 30 minutes works positively for him. You are only going to get short interview time, really depending on how he couches his questions, and answers. And I think then the problem is that Connie is going to work overtime to make sure that she is not defined as someone who gave a lot of softball questions there, and so he is going to take a deliberate amount of time, I think to answer those kinds of questions.

KING: Fraser, how does he have look? Does he have to look compelling? Does he have to look worried? Does he to look -- in other words, what's the general psyche have to be?

SEITEL: I think, first of all, I would tell him, get rid of the goofy grin! There is nothing funny about this. That is No. 1. No. 2, I would tell him lose the California seersucker suit. This is a somber event. This is a serious event. You wear a dark suit. And I think, No. 3, I would tell him to get some pomade on his hair. Slick it down a little bit.

KING: Sig, what would you tell him?

ROGICH: Well I probably might add to some of that. There is nothing wrong with a good seersucker suit, by the way. I want you to know. SEITEL: No, no, Sig, you look terrific.

ROGICH: They cut across channels.

But I think he has to look honest, and I think has to look into the camera when he gives the answer, if he can, if he has the opportunity, and not look at the interviewer.

I think he has to have that moment of sincerity when people believe that he is telling the truth. And I think he needs to be prepared to answer the very toughest questions just as we talked about earlier.

KING: Yes I'll take a break -- Fraser, go ahead.

SEITEL: You know what I would say, Larry, just to add to what Sig just said, if I were counseling this guy, I would say, Congressman, every question you answer, you have in your mind a picture of those two poor Doctor and Mrs. Levy watching you on television. That will keep you serious.

KING: All right. We will hold Sig and Fraser and we'll see if the panel has any questions as well for two of the top PR guys in the business. They have been advising people and advising them well for many, many years. And we will come back with more. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Cynthia, is there anything you would like to ask of Sig Rogich or Fraser Seitel?

ALKSNE: Sure. I would like to know how he answers this fundamental problem that he has as he goes into this investigation. And that is, if you have the picture of the Levys in your head -- this is a man who refuses to meet with the Levy investigators at this time. And it seems to me that he sort of has, he has a problem, which is he should have met with them first, before he had his...

KING: What's the question?

ALKSNE: ...political -- my question is, how does he deal with that problem, because he has been unwilling to meet with Levys?

KING: All right, what does he do, Fraser?

SEITEL: I think that is a significant question. I agree that that is -- the battle that this guy has is totally uphill. However, I think what I would say, the question that Cynthia is asking it seems to me, is the big one, why has it taken you 111 days to come clean?

I think what I would say, if I were him, it's not a perfect answer, but I would say, I was waiting for the police to exonerate me completely, my lawyers advised me of this. They have now done that, I am now not a suspect, and this is the first opportunity I have gotten to come forward. KING: Barbara, what would you ask of Sig or Fraser?

OLSON: Well, I guess I want to follow up with what Sig said about that he would have gone to a local person, because I thought the same thing. You know, I would have done some local television. That is really where he said he wanted to go back to. But the prosecutor in me doesn't like coincidences and I have been trying to think, why Connie Chung?

How did he get 30 minutes, how did he get to Connie Chung? And there are some questions there, too. You know, Rebecca Cooper, who, as we all know, was at the Tryst restaurant meeting with Gary Condit. They have a long "friendship," for lack of a better word, and she used to work for Connie Chung, so I just wonder if there aren't more ground rules, rather than the "no ground rules have been established."

Maybe that's why they are going with Connie Chung, Sig. Don't you think there could be a deal that we don't know about?

KING: Sig?

ROGICH: Well, I'd like to say one thing just before I answer that. I don't think there's a deal, per se, but I do think they make a mistake in not really focusing more on the local venue here.

But what Fraser said, in answer to that question about how do you talk to the parents now, I think it would be more appropriate to say that he made a mistake. That he, in hindsight he looks back and thinks that he should have talked to the parents earlier. I think that is a better way to get at these kinds of sensitive questions. People understand people who make mistakes and admit it.

KING: So you would tell him do that. And what do you make of her questioning of how Chung got this, Sig?

ROGICH: Well, I mean, it is a very competitive industry. I know that there's -- having dealt with him in the past on the network levels, I think she dogged it and was fortunate to get it. I don't think there's any cut deal here, per se. I don't think that Connie Chung is going to put her reputation on the line as a journalist, and cut a deal and come out of this with a lot of softball questions.

KING: All right. We'll take a break and then we'll have questions of Sig and Fraser from Julian and Mark, and then we'll have our panel continue. We'll be right back with all of them on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right there.



LOWELL: I want to point out that before anybody makes a decision about him, whether it's "The Modesto Bee" or his constituents or your viewers, they should wait to hear from him. And this is the right time, because before this, there was such a media frenzy, that he could have been shouting at top of his lungs and nobody would have been paying much attention.


KING: Mark Geragos, do you have a question for Sig or Fraser?

GERAGOS: I actually do. I'm not going to get into a conspiracy theory like Barbara did. I'm going to try and ask a question, which is, if you were advising him and he said I'm going to do this with Connie Chung, would you then advise him to do a follow-up interview? And what would you advise his wife and kids to do?

KING: Good question. Fraser, you want to go first?

SEITEL: What I would say is that -- no, I would do the half- hour. A half-hour is enough time, and I agree with Sig when he says that Connie Chung is going to be tough. She understands there are innuendoes and rumors about how she got this and so on, so she's going to be tough.

I would do the interview with her, then I would fan out locally. And in terms of the wife and the kids and so on, I wouldn't schmaltz this up. I think what people want to see is this guy mano-a-mano with an interviewing who is going to ask him every tough question that everybody who has been watching this thing all summer understands, and see how he handles it.

KING: Sig?

ROGICH: Well, I can't disagree with a lot of that, but that begs to the question again, why not do it locally? When they create a story with Connie Chung, who is a star in her own right, then that becomes a big story and people are talking about all of that, just like we are tonight. I think you get away with a lot more in terms of having the ability to govern this thing in a fashion that's to your best advantage when you start at the local level.

But I think, from the beginning, I think that he needs to set the stage by saying, "Look, there have been mistakes made here. I had a relationship that I'm not proud of. It was jeopardizing my relationship with my family. I'm through that. I reacted, probably, in ways that I shouldn't have and wouldn't have again if I had the opportunity."

Because I think the big question here is the obstruction question. That hasn't been answered yet, in calling the stewardess and asking, theoretically, to cover up something. And I think that still is out there.

KING: Julian?

EPSTEIN: To both of them, I think the best communicator, perhaps, of the modern political age is Bill Clinton, the August 17th, 1998 speech where he had to admit the affair with Monica Lewinsky, I think, was a mistake on his part because he failed to show enough contrition. Let's go through a checklist with the two of you, if we can, about what are the things -- not the questions that he needs to get asked, but the answers he needs to give. What does he need to show on Thursday night?

I think he's got to indicate one, that he made a mistake. Two, that he cares about Chandra Levy, that he is distraught by the fact that she's gone. Three, that he's innocent of any wrongdoing relating to her disappearance. And four, he has to somehow cut off, as I know he wants to, the questions, the collateral questions, about his private life.

Is that the checklist, or are there other things you would add?

KING: We'll start with Sig this time. Sig?

ROGICH: Well, that's the checklist, but I would also probably be prepared to ask whether he's really going to run for reelection again. There's a lot of reasons no one has really asked that question. I know that a lot of this quick, rapid time interview setup probably comes because he's cratering at the polls and those numbers reflect that.

This is not a good time to have this interview, in August in the middle of month. If you're going to set up a nationwide audience, you do it right when school gets back and people are focused, because you're not going to have quite the numbers you would ordinarily, in my opinion, anyway. So I would have not have picked this particular time.

KING: And, Fraser?

SEITEL: I think the checklist is right. I just wouldn't agree with your role model, Bill Clinton, as the world's greatest communicator. It seems to me, as I recollect, what he did was first of all, he lied. Second of all, he never -- I think the Lewinskys are still waiting for an apology from that character.

So, what I would do if I was this guy, I'd apologize right off the bat. I'd explain what my relationship with her was, even though Billy Martin says they don't want to hear it. I think he's obligated to say: "Here is what I did." And I think Sig's right, "I made a mistake." Be remorseful, "it was terrible," and so on.

I would say, No. 3, "I did not have anything to do with her disappearance." He's got to get that out there. And then I'd go back to what Cynthia asked before, No. 4, "Here is why I was obligated to wait for 111 days before making this admission."

KING: Let me say that we'll be calling on both of you again, I guarantee it. Sig Rogich and Fraser Seitel, we thank you very much for appearing with us. They may be back tomorrow. Thank you both very much.

As we approach this Thursday night interview, that we also understand there will be a newspaper interview, supposedly, on Saturday or Friday morning as well, and a local interview and other interviews to follow.

When we come back, we'll pick up on this subject of the other suspect that was spoken about, and more from our panel and more of your phone calls. We'll reintroduce the panel as well. I'm Larry King. We thank our two other guests. We'll be right back with the panel. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. Let's reintroduce our panel. In Washington, Barbara Olson, the former federal prosecutor and best-selling author. San Diego, where we have Cynthia Alksne, the former federal prosecutor as well. In Los Angeles, both here tonight, Mark Geragos, defense attorney -- his clients included, by the way, Roger Clinton and Susan McDougal -- and Julian Epstein, the former chief minority council, House Judiciary Committee.

We are going to go to your phone calls momentarily, but Barbara, what do you make of the fact that both Mark and Julian have revealed tonight that there is a major suspect out there that police are looking at? So that makes all of this moot.

OLSON: Well, it really doesn't. I mean, there are people they are looking at, there are leads that they are following up. But the fact still remains that when you've got a missing person the first thing you look at is, say, does she have a relationship, is there is someone she is close with? She was close with Gary Condit. Was it a secret relationship? Is it a married man? Did anyone know? Those are facts that still keep this a central part of her missing and a central part of finding out where she is.

KING: Julian?

EPSTEIN: It's absolutely a relevant question. The question is that Mark and I have talked about for months at this point is should that exclude everything else? And I think the answer to that has to be no.

KING: Do you know who the suspect is?

EPSTEIN: Well, there is actually been rumors now for several weeks that they are actually talking about another person who she had had regular contact with.


KING: A relationship, a romantic...

GERAGOS: It was a relationship in the fact that they knew them. What bothers me about what Barbara keeps doing here...


OLSON: Where is that coming from?

GERAGOS: ... don't bother me -- don't bother me with the facts, I have got an agenda here -- the agenda is to keep pounding on Condit.

KING: So, you know for a fact that -- hold it, hold it...

OLSON: No, Mark. Mark, where does that come from?

GERAGOS: Where it comes from is from the police. The police know it, Barbara. The police know for a fact that there is somebody else that's there, that that somebody else who was there who they are investigating was somebody who was affiliated with the gym where she worked out, that that person was stalking her, that they had, that she...


KING: Wait a minute...

GERAGOS: There is someone who she perceived to be stalking her. And they know it, and they've invested quite a bit of investigative time into following this up. And the idea that the reason the police are so frustrated by this is that people won't let go of the Condit thing.

KING: Now, hold it. Cynthia, if you know that for a fact, that the police are doing this, this guy stalked her, was in the gym with her, they had a relationship -- that's the story, if Chandra is the one that's our prime interest here and not the congressman, right, Cynthia?

ALKSNE: Sure, that would be critical, and we need to know that -- the police need to know that information and follow that up. And I think Barbara's frustration is not that she is interested in Condit, but that his behavior has so stalled this investigation and wasted resources that the police may not have had the ability to do what they needed to do in the first place, which if there is this mystery stalker that Mark Geragos knows and nobody else...


ALKSNE: Let me say one thing else. As a prosecutor, let me say something else, and that is that when you have a case like this, where the lover of the victim has lied, has covered up evidence, has tried to get somebody else to do other things, here is what happens -- here is what happens...


ALKSNE: ... here is why it's important, here is why it's important, Mark. Because come trial of let's say the mystery stalker, let's say he is the guy that did it. Come that trial, a defense attorney like you has all of the bombs that you...


GERAGOS: ... people like you and Barbara out there keep beating...

KING: One at a time.


ALKSNE: ... and you won't get a conviction because of Condit's constant behavior...

GERAGOS: You won't get a conviction because you didn't give Gary Condit a presumption of innocence...

ALKSNE: ... and inability to just come clean.

KING: One at a time. Julian, you know there is another suspect. Do you agree with Mark?

EPSTEIN: Well, I don't know that for a fact, I know that a number of reporters are covering this case very closely believe that, I know that there are...

KING: And his name hasn't leaked...


EPSTEIN: ... I don't know the particular details of that. What I do know is that the police are pursuing at least four or five other leads that they think may have something...

KING: And Condit is not one...


EPSTEIN: And Condit is not one of them. And you know, the one question -- you go back to that lady in the Gary Hart campaign in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- where is beef? I mean, people -- I think that Cynthia and Barbara's point is legitimate, which is we should ask these questions because he wasn't candid.

But the point that they never respond to, the two of them respectfully, is the fact that after months and months and months of essentially convicting this guy in the court of public opinion without the slightest bit of evidence -- everyone agrees he made a mistake -- but then to confuse the fact that he made a mistake with his actual guilt in this matter I think verges on the edge of irresponsibility, particularly when the police are pursuing other leads.

OLSON: The problem with that is...

KING: Barbara.

OLSON: Well, the problem with that is, who would know better of other people that Chandra Levy was around other people that she knew at work and at the gym than the man she is very close to? This goes right back to Gary Condit cooperating, giving lots of information to the police, saying, you know, Chandra did mention a person at the gym that was always hanging around.

KING: How do you know he hasn't? GERAGOS: How do you know that he hasn't? That he wasn't the one who gave them the information in the first place, Barbara?

OLSON: Well, because we know...

GERAGOS: How do you know that the four or five people that they are talking to weren't the people that Gary Condit...

OLSON: I would just love to answer you, Mark. The reason...

KING: Let her answer.


OLSON: The reason that we know that, Mark, is because we know it took three interviews for him to admit to a relationship. The reason that we know that is because Gary Condit's staff was going out saying they were just friends, he did not know her all that well. Of course he knew her well. This is information -- this is the one man that if you want to presume he is innocent, which we are -- all are giving him the presumption of innocence -- he would certainly know these other friends.

Yes, they are interviewing friends. Yes, they are talking to other gentlemen who knew her. Lisa DePaulo's person who was very close to her at the gym that she relied on -- of course that person is central. But who would know more than Gary Condit, and Gary Condit refused to tell what he knew.

GERAGOS: But Barbara, the fact remains that the one question that he declined to answer in the first two interviews, the one question was whether or not he had an intimate relationship. The police have already said that he answered every other question.

OLSON: I don't think that was the one question.

GERAGOS: And I bet you that -- I bet you that if you asked the police, that's what they'd tell you, and that's what they have said. Nobody wants to listen about it.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll go to some phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. More on this -- you might be surprised to learn -- tomorrow night. Don't go away.



BILLY MARTIN, LEVY FAMILY ATTORNEY: If there is no suspect and there are people who were around the victim at times of a disappearance or a homicide, anybody around that person, especially people who were last with that person, are considered possible suspects. Until Gary Condit comes forward and tells our investigators or the authorities sufficient information to clear him, he's a possible suspect.


KING: That was Billy Martin, the attorney for the family. Let's go to some phone calls for our panel. Marco Island, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question is after Gary Condit gives all of his interviews, will -- and especially if they are looking at another suspect -- will the information that he did give the police and the things they found on his apartment, will that ever -- that information ever be revealed to the public?

KING: Julian, what's...

EPSTEIN: Not necessarily, not necessarily. You know, there are rules for secrecy. There are good reasons for that, for criminal justice purposes. It can -- and of course Gary Condit on Thursday night may reveal a lot of the information. The question is, is any of it...

KING: Another suspect is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) none of our business...

EPSTEIN: And the question is, so much of what we talk about is not relevant. That's the point that Mark and Barbara were talking about before. And it's certainly relevant, all these -- the fact that he mischaracterized the relationship. That's certainly relevant. The question is, is that the only thing to focus on when there's so much else out there.

KING: In retrospect, Mark, let me put it simply. Whoever advised him not to come forward early made a mistake.

GERAGOS: I agree with Julian. He froze, and politically it was disaster, but if you were going to start talking, and this is what I have said all along -- if you are going to start talking to the police, there are some compelling reasons to at least communicate in some way to your constituents.

EPSTEIN: You know we run into this problem -- we ran into this problem during impeachment, too, with Clinton and -- and the lawyers and the political advisers got to get together and figure out a better way on this thing.

We ran into it with Clinton, whether Clinton should come out and do the grand jury testimony and all that type of thing. The political people have one set of advice, the lawyers always have another set -- let me just tell you why the lawyer would advise Gary Condit not to to speak, even if he didn't have anything to do with disappearance of Chandra Levy.

It is because in a lot of these cases -- and Mark knows this better than anybody -- you have a lot of enterprising young prosecutors out there who are going to go after someone to make name for themselves. Who are going to make a name for themselves, not on issues that have nothing to do with Chandra Levy but, say, on this Anne Marie Smith question, on these collateral issues.

They say, here's a big fish to fry, this will be great for my career. So the attorney says, "Be quiet, because even though you had nothing to do with her missing, these guys are going to go after you anyway, and that's why you want to be quiet."

KING: What you are saying, Cynthia, is that you would rather prosecute a Gary Condit than Phil Smith.

ALKSNE: I'm not the least bit interested in prosecuting Gary Condit. I think -- I'd rather he just go back under the rock he crawled out from underneath. And nobody wants to prosecute the obstruction case if he isn't involved in the disappearance of Chandra Levy. All they want to do is get it over with if he is not involved.

And let me tell you what. If he -- before we all join in a pity party about poor Gary Condit. This is a guy whose lover has disappeared and he doesn't have the human decency to meet with the investigators of her own family and tell them what he knows. I'm not getting involved in any pity party for him, no, not this girl.

EPSTEIN: You are missing the point. You may not want to prosecute Gary Condit on the fact that there is a collateral matter, the Anne Marie Smith matter he could be prosecuted on hypothetically. You and I would both agree that if he has nothing to do with disappearance of Chandra Levy that it really isn't a strong case. But there are prosecutors out there that would want that case on to build their reputation, and the attorney...

ALKSNE: Only Ken Starr, and I think we've all gotten rid him quite effectively. Let me tell you, Julian before you -- no.


KING: Finish the point.

ALKSNE: Career prosecutors do not want to do that.

KING: Cynthia, let him finish.

EPSTEIN: I want to finish. That is the reason -- I mean, we convict Gary Condit in the media every day for not speaking, but he is listening to his lawyer. His lawyer is telling him that is the reason why you can't speak. Now, the political people have come in and said, you are going to hang yourself if you continue not to speak. This is the conflict -- all I'm doing is commenting on it. This a thing that happens every time a high profile person gets into trouble. You get a conflict of the political advice and the legal advice.

KING: Barbara, the PR people tonight said don't listen to lawyers, listen to PR people in something like this.

(CROSSTALK) OLSON: First of all, I would like to question whether we can blame the lawyers. You know, it's very nice and very convenient to say the lawyers are not letting him speak. From everyone I have talked with that knows Gary Condit says the man is very self directed. I think last night Julian was talking about how he knows his own mind. I think that this is coming from Gary Condit. And what was interesting about Sig when he was talking earlier was both of the PR people said Gary should sort of make a statement.

And even though no one wants to compare this to Bill Clinton, that is how he came out and sort of did a statement. And so I would assume that Gary Condit, in the first question Connie Chung gives him, is going to try to lay the groundwork, his own statement to avoid other statements.

But there is one question that I don't think Gary Condit can answer, and that I think is why we all aimed at Gary Condit, besides the fact that he has a relationship. Gary Condit, did you ask Chandra Levy to leave her ID at home when she was with you? And why? Because that is yet another piece of evidence why we have looked at Gary Condit. We are told she left the apartment with nothing but her keys.

KING: That's a fair point, isn't it? A good question.

GERAGOS: It's a fair point. And what if he answers the question. Then what are you going to say? I don't believe him. I think he's a liar and therefore I don't believe anything he says?

OLSON: No. If he says no, I never told her.

GERAGOS: If he says, no, Barbara, then what do you do?

OLSON: If he says, no, that is not true, then we have an insight that this is a person who told her aunt that indeed Gary Condit told her to leave things home. So she is delusional according to what Gary Condit would tell us.

GERAGOS: What makes you think that the police didn't already ask him that question. They had four interviews. They had one of the premier FBI profilers...

OLSON: I'm sure by this point they have.

KING: Fairfax, Virginia. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hello to your panel. You mentioned at the beginning of the broadcast as well as last night that Congressman Condit will be mailing out about 300,000 letters.

KING: Two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand, apparently, and it goes out tomorrow.

CALLER: OK. Is he going to be using franked envelopes, or who is paying the postage on this mail?

KING: Who is paying, Julian?. EPSTEIN: The rules for the Congressional franking privileges is if you want to use the Congressional frank, meaning the taxpayers pay, it's got to be Congressional business. I don't know -- I don't believe that Gary Condit is going to do that. I think that would be a disastrous mistake. I think his campaign is going to pay for it.

KING: That would be regular 34-cent stamps.

EPSTEIN: I think they'll be bulk rate. What if I can say -- I think Barbara and Cynthia continue to kind of sidestep this point about the legal advice that someone gets. And there are good reasons for that legal advice and I think that the modern day lawyer is going to have to understand -- particularly with a high profile client -- Mark Geragos does this better than anybody in the country -- is going to have to understand how to reconcile the political versus the legal.

KING: No comment doesn't work today.

EPSTEIN: I agree. No comment doesn't work.

GERAGOS: Nowhere in world you can say no comment when your client is in this situation.

EPSTEIN: But here's the other problem. Here's the other problem that I know, and Cynthia -- Barbara talks about me knowing Gary Condit's mind. Gary Condit knows, and I think that many of us could actually admit that a lot of this kind of continual nonstop coverage is more about the sensational dimensions of this stuff, more about the sex, the cachet, the interface of politics and sex, not so much about where Chandra Levy is.

And so he knows that as soon as he starts answering questions, there will be no end to it. No end to it with respect to his private life, no end to any semblance of privacy that he may want to try to recapture even if that zone of privacy that he wants to recapture has nothing to do with Chandra Levy.

KING: We'll take a break. And we will come right back with more and we'll have our ladies respond. Don't go away.


KING: Larkspur, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I wanted to ask the panel, having lived through O.J. Simpson and President Clinton, do they feel that the American public will buy a story based on one interview which may seem convincing?

KING: Cynthia, what do you think.

ALKSNE: No, I think it will have to be series of interviews. You know, I think he could have dealt with this in a legal and a political way.

CALLER: I can't hear. ALKSNE: I think he would dealt with this in a legal and a political way much easier if after he did the polygraph, which was frankly by polygrapher very well respected in the United States Attorney's office, who I respect, even as a Condit critic but I like this polygrapher and always have.

If then he had gone immediately to the Levy family investigators and done a complete debriefing, and then had begun, like Sig was saying earlier, with local television, and done a series of local interviews and begun that way, he would be much better shape than he is today.

GERAGOS: That is not the only thing. I mean he's got -- he's going to come out with this interview with Connie Chung. I can't emphasize enough in this day and age, with this kind of media scrutiny, he has got to come back with something else to follow up on that. Because there is going to be this kind of criticism, there is going to be -- no matter how he does on that show, he has got to come back with something else after that.

KING: Is this Birmingham, Alabama?

CALLER: My question is for Barbara. If Chandra did not know about Mr. Condit's other affairs and he did not tell her, what makes Barbara think that she would reveal the details of her personal, private, as well as her public life to him?

OLSON: Well, Chandra Levy, from what we know and what she told her aunt, was that she was in love with Gary Condit. She thought he was going to marry her. She was going to have his baby. And this is a woman who evidently...

KING: We don't know that, do we, Barbara?

OLSON: Well, we know that is what Linda Zamsky, her aunt, has said. We assume her aunt is not lying about those statements. So, by one, you have to use a lot of common sense. One has to look at this the same way we are looking at whether the lawyers are telling Gary Condit to be quiet. We have to say, what do we know about Chandra Levy, and what we know is that this is someone she loved, that she was very close to, and most women pour their hearts out and that's their best friend who they love, and they talk to them and tell them secrets.

KING: Julian, true?



EPSTEIN: I think the pregnancy or having a child, I haven't -- I didn't hear that from Linda Zamsky, and you know, sure, that is all fine.

(CROSSTALK) EPSTEIN: I think the caller's question -- yeah, I think the caller's question is what makes Barbara think that Chandra may have revealed what Chandra -- to Gary what Chandra was doing with the rest of her time and her life, and perhaps she did.

KING: And Chandra may have had another relationship Gary didn't know about.

EPSTEIN: Well, she may have had contacts of all kinds of nature with other types of people, and I think these are the things that police are looking at.


GERAGOS: .. and there is apparently a disconnect between what the parents said to you in their interview, the Levys, and what they -- what the "Talk" magazine article said. I mean, there was a disconnect there that the parents said no, we were unaware of other things.

KING: Never with a married man, they said.

GERAGOS: Exactly, exactly, and that seems to be belied by what the other friends who were interviewed in the "Talk" magazine article said.

OLSON: But you know, Larry, when you talk about whether or not Chandra was pregnant or not, Gary Condit can answer certain things, such as what kind of birth control were they using? He can tell that to the prosecutors. It tells them a great deal whether or not she was either with him or someone else. Those are important questions.

EPSTEIN: I think it's an important question, but I think the police and nearly every single reporter, responsible reporter covering this story have discounted the fact now that she is pregnant. So, my question to you is: Why would you put that out there, as if it were a legitimate issue that is under contest right now? I think the police have a number of ways in which they can...

KING: All right. Let me get a break, we'll be back with some more moments with this panel, which has become our regulars on this subject. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, "CNN NEWSWEEK" can't confirm there is another suspect. You are saying you have knowledge of this, right?

GERAGOS: CNN news can't confirm it? CNN news should call up the police department...


GERAGOS: ... the police department will say they've got at least three and that they've got one specific who was a person that they...

KING: A specific suspect -- OK, because we couldn't confirm.


EPSTEIN: And what I will tell you is that reporters who I have talked to -- and I have talked to a lot of them -- they will tell you that they get this from the police sources, they are pursuing at least four other theories.

KING: And I think Cynthia and Barbara are saying no, right?

ALKSNE: I'm not saying no, I'm just saying I had no idea, and I wouldn't want to make it up.

OLSON: I'm just saying, be very careful where you get information, because everybody is putting out information, including the Condit people, so be very careful.


OLSON: That's not fair, Mark.

KING: One more caller. Prescott, Arizona, hello. Fairness is not a concept here. Prescott, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Yeah. If Mr. Condit is found guilty of nothing but very bad judgment, can he file civil lawsuits against these three women who have been so accusatory and hung him out to dry?

KING: Well, they can't file a lawsuit, can he?

OLSON: $25, knock himself out.


EPSTEIN: ... he could file if he wanted to, he could file a defamation lawsuit.


KING: Against Cynthia and Barbara?

EPSTEIN: Anyone can file any suit. I don't think it would succeed. I would advise him it would be lunacy. He -- it would be double lunacy because he is a public figure, and under the libel laws you have a very, very high hurdle to...

GERAGOS: He could file a lawsuit, not against Cynthia or Barbara, and I disabuse anybody of that notion. But who could file a lawsuit would be Carolyn Condit. Carolyn Condit in this thing has -- there have been just scandalous libel per se type accusations that have been thrown at her by various tabloids, and she is somebody who has got a viable cause of action. Whether or not politically that's something you want to do is a whole different question, but in terms of a viable lawsuit, she has got it.

EPSTEIN: I would strongly -- I would strongly advise to the Condit team that they not seek to do that.

KING: Cynthia, can Gary Condit put this away Thursday night?

ALKSNE: No, he can't do it Thursday night. He has to...

KING: Cannot?

ALKSNE: No, he cannot do it Thursday night. He is going to have to do a series of interviews, he's going to have to resolve his problems with the family, and then he is going to have to pray. But I don't think he can ever put it away.

KING: Julian?

EPSTEIN: I agree with Mark, I think that the -- I mean, I think Connie Chung is a superb interviewer, I think it's important she's doing it. But you know, I feel after coming away from the Jesse Jackson interview, I feel -- it feels to me too much like "Vanity Fair." I don't think it gets over the seriousness hump enough. I think he's got to do some more national interviews and some local ones as well.

KING: Barbara, can he put it away Thursday?

OLSON: I think the best Gary can do is look at the camera, as Sig was suggesting, and look honest, and have people believe what he is saying. I don't think in 30 minutes you can answer all the questions -- we have been spending weeks raising questions, and I think he has to answer those. Maybe, as Mark says, he has answered them to the police, but if he wants to put it away with the American public, he is going to have to answer them publicly.

KING: And Mark? Quickly.

GERAGOS: He is going to have to come back and do another interview.

KING: Thank you all very much, and we thank our PR gentlemen earlier, and Barbara, and Cynthia, and Mark, and Julian as well. More tomorrow.

"CNN TONIGHT" is next, with more follow-ups, lots of other stories as well, including that really sad story in California. I'm Larry King. For all of our panel, good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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