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Does Gary Condit Owe the Public an Explanation About His Relationship With Chandra Levy?

Aired July 6, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight a young intern missing for 67 days, a powerful U.S. congressman not talking, a team of baffled investigators, and a frantic family. Does Gary Condit owe the public an explanation?

In Washington, former federal prosecutor Barbara Olson; from Honolulu, criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos; from criminal defense attorney and radio talk show host to Laura Ingraham in Avon, Colorado. Also in D.C., House Judiciary member Julian Epstein. Jim Robinson in Seattle -- he's the attorney for Anne Marie Smith, the flight attendant, who said she had an affair with Condit. We'll also talk with the mayor of the town at the heart of Condit's constituency, Carmen Sabatino in Modesto, California. And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

As we go on the air, I want to read a statement from Congressman Condit's public relations spokeswoman Marina Aaron (sic) and then start the panel commenting on it. This statement was released by the congressman's spokesperson today.

"We understand that the Levy family is doing whatever it can to help find Chandra. What Congressman Condit and anyone else can do is to tell the authorities who are looking for her what they know that can be helpful. The congressman and Mrs. Condit have done so on a number of occasions. Their complete willingness to do this with police investigators should not be confused with their decision not to fuel an already out-of-control media frenzy. They do not believe that making public statements on this subject or attending media events will do anything positive or constructive in the effort to locate Chandra."

So naturally they turned down, Gary Condit, and his attorney, Abbe Lowell, invitations to be on this show tonight.

We'll start with Barbara Olson. What about that statement? They're cooperating with the police. Do they have to cooperate with us?

BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, there's two things that bother me about the statement. First of all is they're telling police what they know that can be helpful. As we all know, or anybody who has done any work in prosecuting, the witnesses and other people interviewed don't always know what can be helpful, so you have to be completely forthcoming because you don't know the other evidence that they have.

And I guess the other problem is Mr. Condit, through his aides and his lawyers, said very early on that there was just a close friendship and that there was no relationship, which was sort of in a way to the media of opening the door to prove it's true. It goes back to the old Gary Hart days: follow me around and see if you can find me.

It opened the door, the media walked through it, and it looks as though his statements early on through his emissaries are not completely truthful.

KING: Mark Geragos, as a criminal defense attorney who's represented Roger Clinton and Susan McDougal, both of whom were very most of the times cooperative with the press, should Gary Condit come forward to the media?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, he's kind of caught betwixt and between. Here he does have and has expressed an interest, at least when I talked to him and when others have talked to him, to try to focus this thing on finding Chandra Levy. At the same time, there has been all kinds of wild speculation as to whether or not they were involved, whether or not -- I've heard things like, was she pregnant, was this, that, and the other thing -- things that just have nothing to do with whether or not Chandra Levy or what happened to Chandra Levy.

Until we find out where she is or what has happened to her, there really is not a whole lot that him talking is going to do in this case except fuel kind of these sideshows that we've seen so far.

I mean, you have to take a look at what the D.C. police chief has said. He said that as of right now there is no crime. It's being still treated as a missing persons investigation. And he'd like to get the focus back on where it should be, which is finding Chandra Levy.

KING: All right. We've heard the two sides well-represented. Laura Ingraham, who is a defense attorney herself, and was former law clerk for Clarence Thomas, syndicated radio talk-show host. Oh, you're not. OK. I know. Everybody has told me at once.

Laura, can you hear me?


KING: OK. Phew. What do you make of the two arguments we've just heard?

INGRAHAM: Well, Larry, the point is here is that Congressman Condit has a responsibility not only to his district to represent them well, but also to the American people. And right now, Gary Condit's credibility is basically eroding by the day.

Initially, he said they were just close friends. Clearly, a lot of other information has come out into the public domain. It's clear from, you know, any sort of reasonable standard that there was not just some, you know, regular friendship here. This was some kind of a very close relationship at the very least.

And Congressman Condit can only stonewall for so long, and the stone is going to push away from the wall very soon. He's hurt himself enormously over the past several weeks in avoiding investigators. He says he's cooperating. But why was it that the D.C. police had such a difficult time initially actually questioning the congressman?

KING: So, Laura, if you were his -- if you were his lawyer -- and you're a lawyer -- you would have advised him to come on shows?

INGRAHAM: No. As a legal matter, Larry, I think it's quite a different story. Abbe Lowell, I think, is probably doing what he thinks is the right thing right now, which is keep it quiet, try to keep a low profile, cooperate with investigators, or at least give the appearance that you're cooperating. As a political and a media matter, Gary Condit looks like a real shifty character right now.

He probably for all we know had nothing do with this, but he looks like a guilty man. This looks like a perfect storm of JonBenet Ramsey, Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson all sort of coming together in one cloud right now.

KING: And to be fair, Newt Gingrich, who denied relationships and wound up having them -- I mean, this has been on both sides of the aisle. So you're not making this political, are you, Laura?

INGRAHAM: No, I'm not making it political, Larry, but we have a criminal, possible criminal investigation here. We have a missing person. This is a very serious...

KING: But it's not a criminal investigation at this minute.

INGRAHAM: Yeah, the police are saying that it's a missing persons case, but they also have -- the chief of police yesterday said that it's very unlikely that Chandra Levy committed suicide. You know, maybe she's waitressing somewhere in the Caribbean right now, but that's probably pretty unlikely, too.

So it doesn't -- it doesn't look good so far about her whereabouts. And is it bordering on some kind of foul play? I mean, I think it doesn't pass a straight-face test to say no.

KING: Julian Epstein, is perception reality? And no matter what legal, as Laura points out, is the correct thing for him to do, the perception he has in this public is fading quickly.

JULIAN EPSTEIN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE COUNSEL: Well, yeah, I think he's taken some pretty serious hits during the last couple of weeks, but I think there are a couple things that are important to keep in mind, Larry. One is that the police have said that he is fully cooperating with them, and the police have also said he's not a suspect. It's not clear to me how any of this kind of media frenzy, how any of this attention to what the nature of the relationship was between Mr. Condit and Mrs. Levy is in any way advancing the cause of trying to locate her, and that's the important thing at this point.

I think it's a perfectly reasonable position for Mr. Condit to say during the course of the investigation -- and these matters are essentially confidential police investigations -- that he is not going treat this as if it were some game of "Temptation Island." He's not going to come out and discuss with the public, discuss with the press those conversations that he's having in the course of confidential police inquiries.

And no other witness, for that matter, ought to be out doing that during this process as well.

But I think Barbara makes a pretty good point when she says that if he had come out and said originally, look, I had a close personal relationship with Ms. Levy, that I am devastated by the fact that she is gone, I'm going to do everything I can to help the police try to find her, I will answer questions, but after the investigation is over, because this is a confidential investigation, this is a confidential matter that's being run by the police, that would have been a sustainable position.

I think the mistake that was made in the early days -- and I think Barbara and I agree on this -- is that his surrogates went out and started denying the nature of the relationship. I think what happened was that began to open the door, the family members disagreed with that characterization, and then it was kind of off to the races on that.

But as a general principle, I think it can actually be destructive to the investigation if witnesses go out and start holding press conferences, about what they're discussing with the police, because that could effectively make leads dry up.

KING: All right. We'll hold it right there. We'll return to our panel in a couple of minutes. We're going to spend those minutes in a moment with Jim Robinson, the attorney for Anne Marie Smith. That's the flight attendant who says she was having an affair with the congressman. We'll spend some moments with him. Then the panel may have some questions for him, which we'll invite them to ask. And the more with the panel the rest of the way. We'll also include your phone calls. And we have some more statements coming out as well.

We'll be right back with it all on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: We've all along said one of three things could happen. She either left and doesn't want to be found, the possibility of suicide or foul play. Now, as time goes on, the possibility of suicide becomes more and more remote only because you would think you would find the remains after a period of time.



KING: We'll be back with our panel in a little while. We are now joined by Jim Robinson, the attorney for Anne Marie Smith. Jim is in Seattle, and she is the flight attendant who said she was having an affair with Congressman Condit, went public with it in a Fox news interview this week. Why, Jim, did she go public?

JIM ROBINSON, ATTORNEY FOR ANNE MARIE SMITH: I was trying to create a legal record, Larry, of what her knowledge was. I came on scene late, approximately June 11. She had already been interviewed with the FBI, she had not been completely forthcoming with all the knowledge that she had about this thing. She was 800 miles away from me.

Then I found out that Congressman Condit was trying to suborn perjury by getting her to sign a false affidavit. And I was concerned -- you know, we already had one missing girl, and I didn't want two. And...

KING: You were really concerned about her welfare?

ROBINSON: Absolutely.

KING: You thought the congressman would do harm to her, based on his statements to her about not telling the truth?

ROBINSON: I don't know the congressman -- that's really not the point. I had to do something, and I did it. And I wanted to protect her safety above all.

KING: What is her, as you see it, Jim, relevance to all of this? Let's say everything she says is true, they had an affair, he is embarrassed by this other thing, he doesn't want her to admit it. So far, there's nothing criminal, right?

ROBINSON: Well, I think the most relevant thing that she had to say in her interview is the fact that she has seen evidence, the hair for instance, in Congressman Condit's apartment. As far as I'm concerned, that is enough for a search warrant right now -- or why, another question to the congressman, why isn't he allowing the police into his condominium?

KING: You have heard what the -- do we know that that's a fact?

ROBINSON: Last I heard that he was not allowing -- allowing them in, there has been no search warrant issued that I know of.

KING: As we have heard -- you have heard the panel speak -- as a lawyer -- and everyone on the panel is a lawyer...

ROBINSON: You have enough -- you have enough attorneys here.

KING: As a lawyer, would you have advised him to speak out, if you were his lawyer?

ROBINSON: Depends if he's guilty or not.

KING: All right, on the presumption if he did do something wrong -- criminally wrong, you wouldn't advise him to speak out, right?

ROBINSON: Shut your mouth.

KING: If he did nothing wrong?

ROBINSON: If he did nothing wrong, then let's get on with it, let's open up the condominium, let's be honest, you know. So what if he had an affair? Other politicians have had affairs and survived. You know, let's just -- if he didn't do anything wrong, then let's just get it out there and get on with it.

KING: How does your client feel now?

ROBINSON: Relieved, very relieved. When she finally figured out what I was attempting to do was preserve her testimony, where investigators are 3,000 miles away from us, and she realized that doing that taped interview was essentially an insurance policy for her.

KING: Does she still have feelings for the congressman?

ROBINSON: Anne Marie is a wonderful person. She doesn't want to believe the worst in anybody. She did have a relationship with this man, she has feelings for him. She doesn't want to think the worst in any regard. So she is very conflicted right now.

KING: We have a clip of her when she appeared on Fox news, let's watch this for a moment. This is Anne Marie Smith. We are with her attorney. Watch.


ANNE MARIE SMITH, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Obviously, Mr. Condit knew it was false, and he was asking me to sign it. And I personally could never have signed it, or would never have signed it. And he was urging me to sign it. He said you don't want anything, this could be potentially embarrassing for both of us.


KING: Jim, you don't think that because there was a relationship between those two, it means that foul play happened to Ms. Levy, do you?

ROBINSON: No, certainly not. But I -- you know, why is the -- why did the congressman contact my client in attempt to suborn perjury?

KING: Good point. We'll take a break and come back, Jim will remain with us, and we'll have our panel ask some questions of Jim as well. This was the statement by Congressman Condit on Tuesday: "I have repeatedly urged anyone who has any information that can help police find Chandra Levy to come forward, tell all they know and be as forthcoming as possible. I have not asked anyone to refrain from discussing this matter with authorities, nor have I suggested anyone mislead the authorities."

Conflict already with the statements made by the attorney for Anne Marie. We will back with the panel and Jim Robinson right after this.


SMITH: And he said, you know, it was just a routine questioning. They said they would keep my name confidential. He was really upset with me, he said: "Well, oh, I see how you are, I see what you are doing," and I said: "No, you know, I have never been in a situation like this."

You know, I realized he told me -- he said: "You don't have to talk to the media, you don't have to talk to anybody. You don't even have to talk to the FBI."




RAMSEY: This is a heck of a leap, in my opinion, to move from a relationship that one may or may not have had with someone else to a disappearance of a specific person. I'm not trying to find a flight attendant. I'm trying to find Chandra Levy. There are two different people. And I just can't go in there and try to -- we are not the sex police here, we are trying to investigate a missing person.


KING: I have Barbara Olson with Jim Robinson standing by. He referred to the flight attendant, does the chief of police have a good point? Is there anything you would like to ask of Jim Robinson or a statement you want to make about him?

OLSON: Well, I would. The -- Ms. Smith, when she was first interviewed, it was reported that she was surrounded by police officers, there was a lot of security, and there were some mention of her being fearful. And I was just going to ask Mr. Robinson, was Ms. Smith fearful? Was there anything that had happened to cause her to be fearful for her life, and has anything happened since her coming forward?

ROBINSON: I would love to address that. When I found out that my client had not told everything she knew to the FBI, I called the FBI agent in San Francisco that interviewed her, and I told her that fact. And I told her that I was concerned because of the fact that Congressman Condit knew that she had not told everything. The FBI agent then said that she would call her bureau chief in Washington, D.C., which she apparently did. Within two hours of me calling the FBI agent in San Francisco, I had a print reporter call me and tell me that she knew that Anne Marie was in my home, that she knew that we were going to do an interview with Fox the next morning. She knew everything I told the FBI agent.

I got very upset with her -- not Anne Marie, but the print reporter, and I said: "Where did you get your information?" And she said: "From my highly-placed source within the D.C. metro police." And that -- I'm just blown away by that, and I immediately called -- I immediately called the Seattle police, told them what my problem was. I didn't ask for any help. I was implying that I needed help, and they sent 12 officers to my house at 2:00 in the morning.

KING: Wow, Mark Geragos, do you have any comment on what Jim said, or any question of Jim?

GERAGOS: Well, I do, Larry. I have to ask two questions, if I could. No. 1, didn't this affidavit, Jim, that you say was suborning perjury -- didn't that have attached to it a cover letter that said: "If you want to make any changes, please do" -- "if you want to make any additions, if you want to make any deletions, please do that"?

ROBINSON: Well, I mean, I can't change water into wine. I -- it's very standard for one attorney to ask another attorney for his client to sign an affidavit.

GERAGOS: I assume that means that's a yes, that it says -- that it did come with a cover letter that said if anything in this affidavit is untrue, or if you want to make additions or deletions, please do. Isn't that just standard in every law practice across this country, lawyers send affidavits to other people, and say if this is not true, please make a change?

ROBINSON: Sure. Absolutely.

GERAGOS: OK, and that's what this one said, didn't it?

ROBINSON: Yes, it did.

GERAGOS: OK, so then where's the subornation of perjury if somebody handed you an affidavit and said if it's not true, make changes or deletions? Nobody's talking about turning water into wine. It's a fairly simple thing on a word processor to change it around.

And then, second of all...

KING: Let him answer that first, Mark. Hold it. She could have changed it, is what he's saying.

ROBINSON: We're talking about June 15, when I received the document, and I called Mr. Thornton and said, you know, paragraph 5 is absolutely the opposite of the truth. I don't know how to change it. It's not my job to change it, to make it acceptable or to make it -- to parse words. GERAGOS: Wasn't one of the reasons that this affidavit was sent over was because of your client's distress that one of her roommates had been paid by a tabloid magazine, and that she didn't want this story to come out, and that she was just as adamant, that she wanted something to be done and that's why this exchange of affidavits was done? Isn't that the very reason for it?

ROBINSON: Absolutely not.

GERAGOS: Isn't that what your client has previously said?

ROBINSON: No, that's not what my client has previously said.

KING: OK, I have to get a break here. Hold it, Mark. And then we'll have Laura and Julian ask questions, if they wish, of Jim Robinson, then we'll continue with more of our panel discussion. I'm Larry King and we'll be right back.


KING: By the way, Billy Martin, the attorney for the Levys, will be our of guest on Monday night. We understand he has something very important to say. Billy Martin, the attorney for the Levys, will be with us on Monday night. Laura Ingraham in Avon, Colorado, do you have a question or a comment for Jim Robinson?

INGRAHAM: Jim, what I most am most interested to know, I think, is what were the substance and the timing of the last conversations that your client had with Congressman Gary Condit before this affidavit was faxed over to your offices? What kind of conversation or interaction did the two have?

ROBINSON: Just make sure I understand what you're saying -- what were the conversations before I received the affidavit?

INGRAHAM: Yes , exactly.

ROBINSON: They were basically that something had happened, that the press was trying to have a field day with him. He was very upset. He asked her to hang with him, that sort of thing.

The other thing was that she called Mr. Condit when the FBI had come to her house. She did not talk to the FBI at that point, but was told, you know, give the FBI a call, which she did. And she also called Congressman Condit, and Congressman Condit was very upset that she was even willing to talk to the FBI.

KING: And Julian Epstein -- I'm sorry, but I've got time problems here. Julian Epstein, do you have a question or a comment for Jim?

EPSTEIN: Yes, I do. Yes, I do. Jim, if Mr. Condit asked Miss Smith to file an affidavit that was in any way false -- I certainly won't defend this on this program or anywhere else -- but subornation of perjury is generally something that occurs beneath the radar screen, kind of in the middle of the night where somebody asks a witness to a legal proceeding to file a false statement.

If Mr. Condit really attempted to suborn perjury, why would he have the affidavit going to Miss Smith's attorney, namely you? Wouldn't he have direct contact with her? And why would the affidavit be going to you for your review, because you're going to act in her interests to prevent her from saying anything that might incriminate her later?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, we're all attorneys here. You're not supposed to talk to a represented party. You're supposed to talk to their attorney.


ROBINSON: I reminded Mr. Thornton of that, and I want to make this perfectly clear. I give all Mr. Condit's attorneys the benefit of the doubt. I'm not -- I don't assume for a minute that they knew that when that affidavit was sent to me that it was false. I gave them the benefit...

EPSTEIN: Right. If they were attempting to do something that was illegal, and subornation of perjury surely is illegal, why would they be having open conversations between their attorneys and you? Why would this be done as, effectively, in the light of day, and you acting as her attorney or there to protect her? It doesn't seem to me what someone would do if they were intending to suborn perjury.

ROBINSON: Well, you know, Mr. Condit is not an attorney, so probably the only person we could have on this panel if we had him that isn't an attorney. But I'm not saying that the subornation was done by any attorneys or involved with any attorneys. I mean, I'm sure that when Abbe Lowell called me, he was being perfectly candid and honest, that he thought that my client was calling Congressman Condit.

When in fact, what was going on was the subornation of perjury. We, days before, a week before, had said, "We're not signing this." He is calling my client, doing end run around all of the attorneys, as you said, to protect everybody. And he is saying, you know, fire your attorney, I'm assuming, and sign this thing.

KING: All right. Hey, Jim, thanks very much for joining us. We sure will be calling on you again.

ROBINSON: Thank you for having me.

KING: We'll be right back -- Jim Robinson in Seattle. We'll be right back with Barbara Olson, Mark Geragos, Laura Ingraham and Julian Epstein, and they'll be with us through the rest of the hour.

We'll also have some words with Carmen Sabatino, the mayor of Modesto. That will come later, back with our panel and a strong statement from Chandra Levy's aunt, Linda Zamsky, who was in "The Washington Post" today. She's added on to it tonight. We'll read the panel that statement and get their thoughts. Don't go away.


KING: We're back, reminding you that Congressman Condit and his attorney, Abbe Lowell -- I spoke with Abbe today, by the way -- were invited to appear and declined.

Our panel is Barbara Olson, the former federal prosecutor, author of "Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary R. Clinton," a major best-seller; Mark Geragos, criminal defense attorney -- his clients have included Roger Clinton and Susan McDougal; Laura Ingraham, attorney in her own rights, a former law clerk for Clarence Thomas and syndicated radio talk show host for our guys at Westwood One; and Julian Epstein, chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.

Here is statement first from the "Washington Post" gang. Chandra Levy's aunt, Linda Zamsky, said today in the "Washington Post" that on April 29, the day before she was last seen, she had a message from Chandra on her voice mail saying: "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."

Now, this just in tonight, released by the same person, Chandra Levy's aunt Linda Zamsky, we believe this is her speaking, that: "Representative Condit's lack of candor is hindering efforts to find Chandra." She issued a 16-page statement tonight: "We call on him to do what he would want others to do if one of his children were missing: give a complete account of his relationship with Chandra, what he knows about her whereabouts on the days leading up to her disappearance, and any information he may have that can help investigators," she said.

Barbara Olson, assuming he's done that with the police, told them everything, led up to the last time he saw her, does he owe CNN that?

OLSON: Well, if he is being truthful with the police, that is his first responsibility, is to be forthcoming -- because these statements that are coming out, clearly if there is a relationship, it goes to her state of mind that last day, and that is what the investigators are trying to figure out, what state of mind was she in, did it have anything to do with Representative Condit.

Now, I go back to my earlier statement: he does owe the media and the American people the truth, because he started off by telling it was just a friendship, there was no relationship. He had his lawyers and his aides and his surrogates make these statements. And at this point, he doesn't have to but he has created this problem by these inaccurate -- or what certainly seems to be inaccurate if we believe Ms. Smith and we believe Ms. Zamsky, there is a mounting bit of evidence that's coming forward -- that he wasn't truthful.

He made untruthful statements, and Larry, you know, this is deja vu. When you take evidence out piece by piece, the media will follow it. And then, suddenly every day we get a new bit of evidence, and it's what we saw during impeachment. It is better to say nothing, or if you are going to try to make a statement, make sure it's truthful because the media will check you out.

KING: Mark Geragos, it's hard to -- how would you counter that?

GERAGOS: Well, the easiest way to counter that is that there still is no crime. He has talked to the police, he doesn't need to nor does it make -- for all you know, the D.C. police have told him not to talk to the media and not to start giving out an accounting of his relationship or anything else, because that may compromise the investigation.

KING: But then, he should say that.

GERAGOS: Well...

KING: Or they should say that.

GERAGOS: At a certain point -- at certain point, the D.C. police chief, when you keep putting those clips of him, seems to indicate that he doesn't have any problem with the congressman, and in fact, seems to be a little bit frustrated with this focus on people like Jim Robinson and his client -- who is by the way the only person who seems to have admitted committing a crime by lying to the FBI -- but other than that, it appears to me that the D.C. police in no way, shape or form are dissatisfied with the cooperation.

And if the media and various people in the media are attempting to link him to a crime which apparently has not been established yet, and hopefully won't be established, then I don't think that Abbe Lowell is off base advising him not to do anything, not to speak.

KING: Laura Ingraham, putting it frankly: if Congressman Condit did not harm this girl, what is the crime?

INGRAHAM: Well, there is no crime, Larry, but we are talking about two different tracks here. One is the legal track, the second is the media political track.

As a matter of politics, it is not a good idea for Gary Condit to have allowed dribs and drabs of information to come out over the last several weeks, many of which contradict what his initial statements were through his surrogates, not through his own mouth.

So, it just doesn't -- it doesn't look good. He has got to know it doesn't look good. As a legal matter, it might be the smart thing to say nothing at this point. We know from Bill Clinton that when you have outright denials to the press, even a friendly press, and it comes out -- the information comes out later that you might not have anticipated, then it could be a total disaster.

But right now, 53 percent of the public in his own district, his constituents -- according to new Zogby Poll -- say he should be more forthcoming about this investigation. Only 19 percent, Larry, say that he has done the appropriate thing as far as talking to the media.

KING: What should he do, Laura -- let's say the opposite, what should he do if he had an affair with her and that is all he knows? But he did have an affair with her. He has no idea where she is, he has no idea why she left. They may have had a slight tip, but he has -- beyond this, he has no idea. What should he do?

INGRAHAM: I think it's...


KING: ... the facts.

INGRAHAM: Yeah, I think as a public official, Larry, and as someone who was in the public eye -- this is a very public case -- he has a responsibility to come forward and say, look, I take some responsibility here, I made a mistake, this got out of hand, I did have a relationship with her, I don't know where she is, I want her to come back. I feel terrible about this, I have hurt my wife, I have hurt my family, this is a abominable for someone who have had public trust put in him by his own constituents in his own district, the people of the United States.

Be a man, step forward, take responsibility. That would be refreshing and that would give him some credibility on this.

KING: And Julian Epstein, how could you counter that? What would be wrong if he did something like that, assuming the facts were true?

EPSTEIN: Well, it's what I said earlier, Larry. I think what he should have done -- and he is represented by a superb attorney, Abbe Lowell right now, who I have worked with, as you know, in the past -- I think we all probably agree he made some initial missteps. I think for what he should have done is he should have come out and said, look, she is a very important friend to me, I am not going to get into the nature of the relationship, I am going to do everything I can to find her and I am going to do everything I can to cooperate with the police.

And I will answer any questions after the investigation, but anything before that I think is detrimental to the investigation, because, as I said earlier, these things are confidential by nature, investigations are confidential by nature.

But also have to keep in mind, Larry, that all of this media hype that is going on about the speculative nature of the relationship between the two is in -- I have heard no theory to advance that hype and that speculation toward the actual recovery of Chandra Levy.

And Barbara and I were talking during the commercial break, you know, there are hundreds of people in this town that have been missing since the beginning of the year, and you worry about this kind of sensationalism beginning to distract us from kind of the prize here, or from keeping our eyes on the prize. And the real overriding goal here should be the recovery of Chandra Levy, not what the relationship was.

KING: But Julian, frankly, wouldn't all this attention help find her? If she is alive, wouldn't this help find her? EPSTEIN: Yes.

KING: Wouldn't you like every missing person to have this kind of attention?

EPSTEIN: Yes, I think that -- I have no idea what the family's strategy, what the family's plans are, but I think that to the extent that this media speculation about the nature of the relationship has kept this matter in the press -- absolutely, it keeps pressure on the local D.C. police here, it keeps the matter at the forefront of everyone's mind, and that may help in and of itself.

But I think that, you know, this constant trying to dissect what the nature of the relationship was and was he telling the truth or not, I don't see how that speculation actually advances the cause in any way.

KING: Let me get a break, we will come back, and then we'll have everybody jump in and we will go free-for-all. I want to spend a couple minutes when we come back with Carmen Sabatino, the mayor of Modesto, the part of Condit's congressional district, and then the rest of the way with the panel, and we'll have lots of interchange. Don't go away.


VINCE FLAMMINI, REP. CONDIT'S FORMER LIMO DRIVER: Here is the 24-year-old girl, I'm not trying to look for revenge against Gary, I'm trying -- I want to know what happened to this girl, just like everybody else. And I pray every day that we find out what happened to her.

But I do not in my heart feel that Gary has anything to do with her disappearance, except he might have a little bit more information that might help the police.




KING: Is she a friend of Congressman Condit of California, who has posted a part of the reward for her return?

SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S MOTHER: I would say that professionally she was a friend. Basically, she probably had been down to his office a few times and would seek advice from Mr. Condit on the possibility about going into the FBI and advice about taking languages, or you know, for becoming an FBI agent or about law school.

KING: Did you -- were you hurt by stories that there was supposed to be some romance going that the congressman, by the way, denies?

LEVY: Of course I am hurt. Of course. As a mother and a mother, especially someone who's missing a daughter right now that did not show up for her graduation, I'm not only hurt -- I'm scared. And I just want my daughter home alive, and as far as the stories, there are going to be lots of stories floating around in the press. But I want my daughter home, and that's why I'm on TV right now.


KING: That was Chandra Levy's mother, Susan, on this program May 17th -- been a long while.

Joining us now from Modesto, California, Carmen Sabatino, the mayor of Modesto. What, Mr. Mayor, has been the local reaction in your city to all of this?

MAYOR CARMEN SABATINO, MODESTO, CALIFORNIA: Well, a few months ago, Larry, the focal point of this story was Chandra Levy, and the people of Modesto weren't talking much about what the media is talking about today. But now, after two months of speculation and rumors, and rumors upon rumors, there seems to be a state of confusion.

KING: I notice you're standing right in front of the congressman's office in Modesto. Were the citizenry disappointed that he did not appear at the 4th of July celebration yesterday? Day before.

SABATINO: I think there was general disappointment. His chief of staff called me Tuesday night before the parade and indicated that they had decided not to participate.

KING: Would you say that he is up...


SABATINO: ... have been there.

KING: Would you say, Mr. Mayor, that up to this point he would be considered very popular in your city?

SABATINO: He has tremendous bipartisan support. He won his election, the last election 70/30. And quite frankly, today, I would, if you took a poll, I think a majority of Republicans would be coming to his defense.

KING: Republicans would be coming to his defense. Why?

SABATINO: Because he enjoys bipartisan support. He's -- he's drawn that support for his entire career, whether in the state assembly or in Congress.

KING: What's been the impact on Mrs. Condit and the children?

SABATINO: I can only imagine. I've had no contact with them. Carolyn Condit is known as a wonderful woman. She's not up-front. But I can only imagine the grief not only of the Condit family, but of Mr. and Mrs. Levy. KING: Would you say that he was a hardworking congressman for the district? You know, the kind of congressman that was easily accessible, you could reach him, that got on the horn if someone in the district didn't get their Social Security check?

SABATINO: I found him to be so. If he didn't do it personally, he has an excellent staff here and in Washington that do constituent work. And I think that's how he maintained his popularity.

KING: Do you think he would be re-elected now?

SABATINO: If the election were today, maybe. There's apparently going to be a lot more information that has to come out. You know, the congressman has made himself a fugitive from the media, and sooner or later he's going to have to deal with that.

KING: Thank you very much, mayor. Carmen Sabatino, the mayor of Modesto.

Barbara Olson, the Washington, D.C...

SABATINO: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Carmen.

The Washington, D.C. police chief says that this is not about a flight attendant.

OLSON: Well, he said it's not about sex, and it's not. What it's about is what was going on with Chandra Levy in the last minutes before she became a missing person. When was Mr. Condit involved in that? You know, we've had the aunt now say that Chandra Levy had thought she was going to marry Mr. Condit, have a baby in five years. We're hearing all of this information. It's not relevant unless there was something going on that caused her to become a missing person. And that's why we're even talking about this.

And unfortunately, as the mayor just said, everyone's confused, because when someone covers something up or hides something, as it appears that he was trying to do with Anne Marie Smith, then you start saying "What else was he covering up?" It's just a natural reaction, and that's the road you go down. It's -- we've been there before and we're there again in Washington.

KING: And Mark, he once said, Congressman Condit, about Bill Clinton he should speak out and speak out right now.

GERAGOS: Right, and I'm sure he's thinking twice about those words now. He's getting some counsel. Nobody -- nobody is going to take back, who's seen those snippets, and not say that there isn't a little bit of irony about that. And I'm certainly not going to for a minute tell you that his media strategy has been exceptional. I mean, as you well know, Larry, I usually am a big advocate of a client speaking out and my clients speaking out when they've been accused of something. I think that that's important, especially when you have this kind of media firestorm that's going around you. At the very least here, the only criticism that I would level is that if not he, then his lawyers should be out there, and somebody should be out there saying something so that this doesn't spin off as it has into flight attendants who've been lying apparently to their lawyers, to the FBI, and everybody else, and coming up with all these other kinds of kind of crazed stories. There should be somebody out there saying something.

KING: We'll pick up with more right after these words. Don't go away.


KING: Let's take a call. Dallas, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, hi. My question is I heard an interview with John Walsh yesterday, and he indicated that Chandra is actually the third female to come up missing from her same general area matching the same physical description in the last several months. I'm just curious if anyone on the panel has heard this, and if so, why this is not being heavily pursued. I mean, it seems like her whole convention is to Gary Condit and nothing else seems to be coming out in the media.

KING: Laura Ingraham, does she have a point? Is there something going on in that area of town?

INGRAHAM: Well, Chief of Police Ramsey in his interview yesterday with WTOP in Washington clearly did not indicate that there seemed to be any pattern of behavior, pattern of criminal activity in that neighborhood. And there are, you know, dozens of people missing in Washington every few months.

However, it would seem that Police Chief Ramsey at this point would say, well, we're looking into this, you know, this pattern of missing persons. He seemed to say we have nothing right now. We're interviewing Condit's wife, we're interviewing other people, but we have nothing.


EPSTEIN: Larry -- Larry, I happen to live in that neighborhood.


EPSTEIN: I happen to actually live in that neighborhood, and I think what Ramsey said yesterday was the fact that Levy is missing doesn't seem to be connected to a pattern of disappearances. But I think to answer your caller, there have been, I think, a dozens, if not hundreds of missing persons in this city. There is a primitive system that the police have set up in this city for missing persons.

And you know, the notion that -- whether or not it's connected, I think that we've heard in this area that there have been -- I think if my figures are correct -- as many as 12 missing people in recent months in this area. So I think... GERAGOS: Except, Julian...

EPSTEIN: And that -- but that underscores the point here. With all of this emphasis, this continual emphasis about what the precise nature of the relationship was between Mr. Condit and Ms. Levy, it seems to miss the major point, and it seems to, I think, obscure other avenues of pursuit and discussion.

INGRAHAM: Larry, the major point...

GERAGOS: Except I was going to say...

INGRAHAM: Let me get in here.

KING: One at a time. One at a time.

INGRAHAM: Larry, let me get in here, because Julian is echoing, partly at least, something that Condit's attorney put forth in a statement yesterday, which was basically a veiled attempt to vilify the media, that media is focusing on this relationship and this relationship really has nothing to do with the fact that she's missing.

Well, in fact, when police try to find missing persons, when they're women, the people that they focus on are people with whom they've had intimate, sexual relationships. Chief Ramsey said this yesterday. It is textbook investigations for police officers. So the idea that media...


EPSTEIN: The police have also made it clear that they don't think that Mr. Condit is a suspect. They have made it pretty clear that they don't believe that he is connected to the fact that she is missing.


EPSTEIN: Yes, so far.

I think it's a perfectly valid avenue for questioning, but I think the fact that we focus on the nature of the relationship solely is misguided.

KING: Let me get a call in from Modesto. Modesto, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: I would like to know from your panel and you, Larry, don't you think that all the speculation and the media frenzy really makes the media into an electronic version of the "National Enquirer," titillating us with these salacious rumors and innuendo, when in fact, nobody knows anything about the congressman's participation in any of these acts.

KING: All right. That's a very good question. I've got to take a break. I'm going to take a break and come back and get the panel's thoughts on that. Are we all becoming -- "The Globe"? Don't go away.


KING: Let's go round the horn. Barbara Olson, is the caller from Modesto correct? Are we part of a circus here?

OLSON: Well, you know, Larry I'm going to spend a little bit of time defending the media, because it's easy to slam the media. There are a lot of shows that do find missing persons where we're talking about the facts. There are a lot of people in Washington, D.C., area. Someone had to have seen or heard something, whether it was Miss Levy walking out the back door, getting in a car, riding a motorcycle.

I think these kinds of things where the D.C. police is basically saying: "We don't have any idea. Please, if you've seen anything," they've made their own public plea. Miss Levy's parents have made a plea, and I think what you said earlier is really true. They have no leads. Their pleading for help, and these kinds of shows where we talk about evidence, we talk about issues, I think, can help, certainly in a case like this.

KING: Mark Geragos, do you agree, or are we borderline salacious?

GERAGOS: Well, I think obviously we're borderline salacious. There's a little bit of that central valley wisdom that we respect so much in California. This -- but Barbara does have a point.

And I think, Larry, you really made probably the most pressing point about all of this earlier on, There are, based on the statistics I've seen, 1/3 of the women in this age group, the same as Chandra Levy's who turn up missing -- 1/3 are out of the Washington, D.C. area. That's nationally. If that's the case, how do you ever get any kind of a focus on this issue, and this specific female, Chandra Levy, unless you have some of this titillation around edges, that boosts ratings, that gets people to watch and gets people interested? So -- but it is a two-edged sword.

KING: Laura Ingraham, what do you do? What do you do if you're the editor or the news director of the station? What do you do with this?

INGRAHAM: You've got to go with this. This is such a ridiculous conversation. We have a woman who comes to Washington as an idealistic person, wanting to learn more about government, learn more about the federal system. She leaves missing. We've had other interns at Starbucks in Washington end up dead. Monica Lewinsky ended up dragged before a grand jury.

This story, Larry, touches everybody in the United States. Anyone who's had a woman in the workplace harassed by a boss, any person out there who has a daughter, anyone out there who's had a woman in the workplace manipulated by a man in a higher position. It is something that touches all of us. It is something that the media should cover, and it's something that we should be very, very clear about.

GERAGOS: Wow. Laura, that's almost over the -- you've almost gone over the top on that.

INGRAHAM: No, Mark. No, Mark, I don't go over top. I talk about what...

GERAGOS: .. that's been manipulated by a man? How in the world do you come up with that kind of a statement? I mean, that's just bizarre.

INGRAHAM: ... because we're talking about how people become more cynical in government...

GERAGOS: You need to get a little bit of a reality check.

KING: One at a time. One at a time.

INGRAHAM: Larry, they've become more cynical about government today, because we can't even trust our elected officials to treat our young people in the nation's Capitol with respect and dignity. She was obviously an adult, but she was 21, 22 years old. She should have been more responsible, probably, in this relationship. But the point is, we care about this because it touches at the heart of our trust in the public officials.

KING: We're out of time and I want to give Julian the last word. Julian?

EPSTEIN: Well, I think the question is one of proportion, Larry. There is no question that sex or speculation about sexual relationships will sell copy and get ratings. The question is one of proportion. There is nobody that has really put forth a credible theory, that I know of, that suggests that the nature, the precise details of the relationship are connected to the fact that she's missing. Yet that's all we hear. That it is the relationship, 24 hours a day, is the only thing we're hearing about on the cable television shows.

So I think that there is a tendency, there is a danger of going overboard on the salacious dimension and ignoring other dimensions of the story at its expense.

KING: Thank you, Julian, thank you, Barbara, thank you, Mark. Laura and Julian, we hope to have this panel back because they are terrific, and they've certainly added a lot of wisdom to our overall knowledge of a subject we still are barely skimming the surface here. The key, of course, is where is she?

On Monday night, Billy Martin, the attorney for the Levys, his first interview, he did a press conference when he took over representing them. He formerly represented, you remember, Monica Lewinsky's mother. He'll be with us on Monday night, Billy Martin. Barbara Walters Sunday. Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for "CNN, TONIGHT." I'm Larry King. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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