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Condit Passes Polygraph with Flying Colors

Aired July 13, 2001 - 17:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: This is INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Senator John McCain tells me he has the votes to resurrect campaign finance reform, and he'll play hardball if necessary.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bob Franken, covering the Chandra Levy case in a news announcement expected any minute now.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Major Garrett at the White House. The Bush team is trying to stay out of the political fire over China's selection as an Olympic host.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider. Stay tuned to find out how splitting up can lead to the political play of the week.

ANNOUNCER: Now Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. We're overlooking some of the landmarks of this nation's capital, but in the dark corners of this city, the search continues for Chandra Levy. In connection with the case, Congressman Gary Condit's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, is expected to appear. In fact, he's about to talk right now -- Abbe Lowell, who is the attorney for Gary Condit.

ABBE LOWELL, REP. CONDIT'S ATTORNEY: ... throughout the last two months. Various D.C. police officials have stated and reiterated that Congressman Condit has never been and is not now a suspect in the disappearance of Chandra Levy. Nevertheless, the media has focused virtually all of its attention on the congressman no matter what the police have said.

Consequently, on Monday, Congressman Condit asked me to make clear the level of cooperation he has had with police efforts to locate Ms. Levy with hopes that additional information could be helpful and so that leads from others could finally be pursued.

I passed along the congressman's offer, including that he would talk to police again if they requested it, would make telephone records available, would make his apartment accessible, would submit a DNA sample, would request his staff to become available, and would consider taking a lie detector test. I am here today to report that the congressman has done everything he said he would do, has been doing it while taking care of his constituents as Congress is now back in session, and has done it under enormous pressure of nonstop media coverage, including reporters camping outside of his home and office day and night.

Because there is so much misinformation being reported and so much misinformation being reported and then repeated until the truth has become invisible, I want to state exactly how much the congressman has done and done voluntarily.

First, after Dr. Levy called him in California to report that Chandra was missing on May the 6th, it was the congressman and his office that contacted the police and the FBI on the very next day.

Second, after discussions with authorities about the utility of a reward for information about Chandra's disappearance, the congressman offered such a reward and announced it publicly.

Third, when the police asked to speak with him on May the 9th or 10th, just days after Ms. Levy had been reported missing, Congressman Condit invited the police to his apartment where questions were answered and they could see his home.

Fourth, over the past few weeks, he has met with police on three separate occasions for a total of over three hours and has answered every question placed to him.

Fifth, the congressman canceled his normal appearances at July 4th activities in his district to arrange for and to fly back with his wife, whom the police wanted to interview as soon as they could.

Sixth, he has provided authorities with his D.C. home and telephone cell phone records.

Seventh, he has allowed seven police and FBI officials to search his apartment for over three hours to take whatever they wanted from his home.

Eighth, he has provided a DNA sample for authorities to have available should its use ever become necessary.

Ninth, he has made arrangements for his staff to be available to answer any questions authorities might have.

Tenth, he has submitted himself to a polygraph examination, the results and raw data of which are being sent to the FBI and the D.C. police.

Let me briefly touch on a few of these. There have been news reports that the congressman did not provide police with information until his third interview on July the 6th. That's nonsense. Whether he characterized his dealings with Ms. Levy or not, he most certainly provided police from the beginning with critical information that they needed. This included when he last saw Ms. Levy, when he last spoke with her, what mood or disposition she was in during those times, and whether there had been anything that occurred which might cause her to be distraught or to run off.

As to the search, the police and the FBI were extraordinarily thorough. Not a place or thing in the apartment was overlooked. Even still, there were very few items that could not be tested immediately and excluded there and so needed to be taken for further analysis.

We are most confident that these items will cause no concern, that Congressman Condit has had anything to do with Ms. Levy's disappearance.

Finally, as to the polygraph, in the most stressful week in his entire life, Congressman Condit submitted himself for an examination by one of the most well-respected and most experienced examiners in the world. Barry Colvert, a 35-year FBI special agent, was the primary polygraph examiner and interrogator for the FBI in Washington, D.C. for over 15 years. In his career, Mr. Colvert has taken or supervised nearly 3,000 polygraph tests and was trusted by the FBI to teach its other agents.

In his career, Mr. Colvert was the primary examiner in espionage cases, including those of the Walker family, Jonathan Pollard, and Aldrich and Rosario Ames. He was retained by the offices of two independent counsels in the Iran-Contra and secretary of labor investigations. And he was the examiner who testified in the only federal prosecution of a defendant charged with murder in which a victim's body could never be found.

Former agent Colvert concluded that the congressman was not deceptive in any way and, in fact, had a probability of deception of less than 100th of one percent to the only questions that mattered. These were, first: Did the congressman have anything at all to do with the disappearance of Ms. Levy? Second, did he harm her or cause anyone else to harm her in any way. And third, does he know where she can be located?

As polygraph examiners will tell you, only critically important questions should be and can be tested. Mr. Colvert asked those that count. Any other questions might be of interest to tabloid journalists but would not be pertinent to the issues involving Ms. Levy now.

When I made the offer on Monday for the congressman to do all of these things, I said there were two goals. The first was to make sure that any possible information that Congressman Condit had that could be helpful would be available to the authorities. That has now been done.

The second goal was to return the focus to Chandra Levy and to allow the police and to ask the media to begin focusing on the 99 other people authorities have identified who could provide real clues as to what happened to her. In fact, the more time you spend on Congressman Condit, his family, his life, and his past, the more you are diverting attention and resources to the one thing that really matters here: finding Chandra Levy.

Those people who honestly are concerned about the disappearance of Miss Levy will now realize that Congressman Condit has exhausted the information that he can provide and that the spotlight on him should be turned elsewhere. We urge others with information to be as forthcoming as they can be, that the police be able to do their job by looking for other leads, and that the media allow both to occur so that Chandra Levy can be found. And I will answer some questions.

QUESTION: Abbe, why -- if he passed the lie detector test that you gave him, why not just submit to one that the police or the FBI...

LOWELL: Mr. Colvert teaches the people that the FBI uses. He is going to submit his report, the raw data, the analysis, the underlying graphs. I am convinced that when they see that, they will see that there is no need for any further testing.

QUESTION: Abbe, what were the difficulties in reaching an agreement?

LOWELL: I will not -- I will not compromise the FBI and D.C. police's ability to analyze what Mr. Colvert did by a premature release. I will, of course in appropriate time, make sure that you have that information if it's pertinent. I want to tell you, though, that I have told you the questions of any significance to anybody who really cares about Chandra Levy, and not to uncover further dirt or try to assume further dirt about the congressman. And I told you what those questions were. He answered all of them negatively, and Mr. Colvert found that there was absolutely no deception.

QUESTION: In total, how many questions were asked and how long did the session last?

LOWELL: The session lasted as protocols would have it. Mr. Colvert may become available to answer those questions as to how many questions were -- if you talk to polygraph examiners, they will explain to you how this is done and how there has to baseline tests and has to be others. But in terms of the substantive questions asked, the ones that I say to you should matter. I mean, what else do you want to know except for the three questions that have any bearing on what you are all supposed to be concerned about? And those questions you now have.

QUESTION: Do you hope the Levy family does anything in response to this, perhaps withdraw their public criticism or questioning of the congressman?

LOWELL: Congressman Condit and his family understand how this must be for the Levys and support everything that they're doing to keep Chandra's name and picture in the news and keep this a story. What I think the congressman hopes for now is that he is concerned not just for his own life, but the more you spend time looking at him, the less time you're looking spending on the untold numbers of others who might actually have a lead. And this is becoming counterproductive.

QUESTION: Abbe, was the polygraph...

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mention the DNA sample makes it unclear if you turn the sample over to any authority or do you have it in safe keeping someplace?

LOWELL: Congressman Condit has turned his sample to the FBI.

QUESTION: And what kind of sample was it? Saliva sample?

LOWELL: I don't think it really matters, does it?

QUESTION: Abbe, what was the difficulty in reaching the agreement with the D.C. police conducting their polygraph of the congressman?

LOWELL: There was none. There's been as in so many other instances, a lot of miscommunication and misreports in the press. There haven't been negotiations. There haven't been back and forths. The question was asked of me Monday. I went to the congressman and I told him what my concerns were. Every lawyer is going to tell you that they have different opinions about it.

And what we did was we found the person who has unassailable credentials, the person the government has relied on as recently as in the last two years, where U.S. attorneys around this area have hired Mr. Colvert for their purpose, the person who the FBI uses to test in espionage cases, the person who teaches other FBI agents how to do it. And it seemed to us that if under those stressful circumstances of this week, including a night, by the way, where the congressman did not sleep because his apartment was searched, if he could do what Mr. Colvert has said he should do and has done, then that should satisfy anybody who's fair-minded.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... follow-up. Was there an insistence by police that there not be a pre-submitted list of questions?

LOWELL: There's been no back and forth with the police on this issue. I don't know where those reports are from. Again, if you have spoken to polygraph examiners -- and I don't want this to focus completely on the polygraph. I mean, there are some people who I guess in the media have now made this the talisman of everything that needs to be done. Well, some people don't find it that way. But because it became so important and despite my misgivings, Congressman Condit said, "I'm going to do that, too.

And I want you to understand that it's not the only thing he's done. This is just some of the things he has done. And as I said to you before, there has to come a time where this vicious cycle of the media creating a hype for the congressman to do something, the police responding to that by asking him to do more doesn't help find Chandra Levy. I mean, what else could he possibly do?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Abbe, shouldn't you have asked him the question: Did you pressure Anne Marie Smith to lie? Isn't that a fair question?

LOWELL: I don't understand yesterday. I don't understand today, and I don't understand tomorrow what anything about Anne Marie Smith has to do with the disappearance of Chandra Levy. Unless somebody can point that out, I don't understand why he should be asked about it either with a polygraph, without a polygraph or I should be asked about it at this conference.

QUESTION: If the police and the FBI, after reviewing the results, would like him to take one of their tests administered by one of their own personnel, would you agree to do that?

LOWELL: I don't know that that's ever going to be necessary. Mr. Colvert, who you will find is one of the people in this country deemed one of the best experts in polygraphs, has told me that the charts were so clear, that the results were so solid, that they are such of the kind that anybody looking then will come to the same conclusion. And I think among polygraph experts, they sort of understand what that means.

QUESTION: Abbe, since the polygraph issue was raised, was the polygraph results that was submitted for the FBI, is that the only polygraph that he's taken since that issue came up?

LOWELL: That is the only polygraph. He's done it one time. He's done it with the best that we could find. The person that's most reliable, the person who the government relies on in the most important cases in their Department of Justice.

Two more questions, two more. Go ahead, over here.

QUESTION: How could you have been as helpful to the police...

LOWELL: I said over here.

QUESTION: Has he now done everything he thinks that he could possibly do? Do you see him doing anything else?

LOWELL: I said last time I was with you that if the police develop a lead, a name of somebody that they would like to see whether he has heard of or other things that make sense. He's not cutting himself off, but there comes a point where he has exhausted himself. I mean, look, he's got three hours of his own interview, three hours of his wife's interview, a voluntary search of his apartment that took three hours. He has his records there, his DNA sample. He has provided them the results of a polygraph exam.

I think he has done what a person could do. But if you are sitting around caring about Chandra Levy, should you not be asking this question to others? Should you not be asking if others have done as much? Should you not be asking the police: "Isn't it time for you to see if there are people out there who can provide something new?"

And I'll tell you what's not going to help. If you and your brothers and sisters in California continue to sort of pry into the Condit family life and try to find out what medications the Condits have been on and how he did in high school and whether his children do this or that, that may fill your papers and your Web sites and your TV shows, but it is not going to find Chandra Levy, and it is going to be counterproductive.

One more question, go ahead.

QUESTION: Chandra Levy had told her aunt out in Maryland that she had something big to tell her or something very important. Is the congressman -- he was close to her in the last few days. Does he have any idea of know what that news was?

LOWELL: Well, I don't accept that the congressman was close to her in the last few days. He has told the police the dates in which he has seen her or spoken to her. And as to whether -- what the aunt meant or what proposedly Chandra Levy meant when she told the aunt -- I mean, I don't have any better idea than her aunt. I mean, her aunt was a lot closer -- I'm sorry, say it again.

QUESTION: Did they ask him what he knew?

LOWELL: I'm not telling you the questions that the congressman was asked and the answers he gave. And I can tell you that if the police found that to be a pertinent question -- when they say they have asked him every question, they mean it. Thank you. I've given you all I can give you tonight. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We've been listening to Abbe Lowell, an impassioned Abbe Lowell, attorney for Congressman Gary Condit, saying the congressman has done everything he could do to cooperate with police to help find Chandra Levy. But the news here that the congressman has provided DNA sample to police and he has undergone a polygraph exam, a lie detector test, which in Abbe Lowell's words show without a -- any doubt that the congressman had nothing to do with the disappearance of Chandra Levy.

Joining me now, CNN correspondent Bob Franken, who has been on this story, CNN legal affairs correspondent Greta Van Susteren.

Bob, to you first. How much of this is new that we just heard from Abbe Lowell?

FRANKEN: Well, what is extremely new, of course, is the fact that he took a lie detector test, privately administered and that, according to Abbe Lowell, he passed with flying colors, answering those three questions: Did the congressman have anything to do with the disappearance of Chandra Levy? Did he harm or cause anybody to harm her in any way? And does he know where she is?

And he answered no to all of those. And according to Abbe Lowell, his examiner, Barry Colvert says he passed with flying colors. And, of course, he went to great lengths to describe the credentials of Barry Colvert. We've already confirmed with the FBI that in fact he was a highly respected polygraph administrator for the FBI.

WOODRUFF: And Greta Van Susteren, if this is the case, if Abbe Lowell says the congressman has done so well on this lie detector test and separating himself from what happened to Chandra Levy, does this put his involvement, does it now answer the questions? GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, not completely, Judy. This is not a truth machine, but it certainly -- it puts the congressman in a much better position than he was in before the polygraph examination was done.

One of the questions that was posed to Abbe Lowell was why did he do it privately? And Abbe Lowell sort of dodged it and said, "We're going to give the results to the FBI, to their examiner, to the police."

The reason is this, is that this was a dry run in the event that the congressman didn't pass it. Then what defense attorneys do is they just simply put it in the drawer, put it to sleep and it never sees the light of day. But it is quite common to take results, and this is a very experienced polygrapher, to take the results, hand them over to the FBI and the police and they will be satisfied looking at those charts, comparing the question.

It's unlikely that he'll have to submit to a polygraph examination by the FBI or the police. They will probably accept this chart and these results. But remember, this is not a truth machine. But it certainly changes the momentum of this investigation, and if the focus were on the congressman by the police and the FBI, they will now divert a little bit.

WOODRUFF: All right, also joining us, polygraph expert Howard Miller.

Mr. Miller, given what Abbe Lowell is saying, the description of these results, is there any more doubt whether the congressman is telling the truth?

HOWARD MILLER, POLYGRAPH EXPERT: Well, it's obvious that the test results -- the relevant questions that were used are definitely from a control question type of test system, which is very much used in government service. The examiners at the FBI will review the charts. If they have any serious concerns about what they see on the charts, the end run could be they might come back and say, "We would like to have our own test done with the congressman."

But as we hear it now, the questions I heard that were used as relevant questions were certainly adequate. They were reasonable, and they would have been very close to the questions that either one would ask. And I've already suggested those questions on earlier CNN broadcasts.

WOODRUFF: All right, Howard Miller, polygraph expert, and Greta Van Susteren and Bob Franken.

Now joining me here, CNN's Jonathan Karl.

Jon, you've been talking to a number of people at the Capitol. Based on that, what do you think the reaction is going to be to this new information from Condit's attorney?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hard to say that this will be enough, Judy, but clearly, this is exactly the kind of thing that Gary Condit needed to do, because he's been under increasing pressure both privately and on one-on-one conversations with other members of Congress and publicly to come out and show that he is doing all that he can to cooperate with this investigation, including the two Democratic Senators from California. They have both given this message to Gary Condit.

The most recent was Barbara Boxer, who actually just put out a statement late last night saying -- quote -- "Congressman Condit must put aside any considerations for himself and tell all he knows about this case to law enforcement authorities without further delay."

Well, this was an effort to show that he has been doing exactly that. Will it end all the problems he has up on Capitol Hill? You know, almost certainly not. You already have people like Bob Barr coming out calling for his resignation and calling for an ethics committee investigation. So clearly he's got more work to do up on Capitol Hill, but this was exactly the kind of thing he needed to do.

WOODRUFF: All right, Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl.

Meantime, as Jonathan just said, Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who has called for Congressman Condit's resignation, will be the guest tonight on "CROSSFIRE." That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

And Anne Marie Smith, the flight attendant who claims to have had an affair with Condit, will be a guest on "Larry King Live. That's at 9:00 Eastern. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 2008 are awarded to the city of Beijing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The acknowledged favorite of the race to hold the 2008 summer Olympics fulfilled predictions today when IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch announced Beijing was the winner. In China, celebrations exploded across the capital, complete with music, dancing, and fireworks. Beijing won the games by a wide margin on the second ballot, Toronto was the runner up. The Chinese government has committed to spending billions of dollars preparing for the games, including new stadiums, highways and other infrastructure.

Here in Washington, official reaction to the Beijing decision was mixed. Some members of Congress have been outspoken critics of China's human rights record and they opposed Beijing's Olympic bid. At the White House, the president's spokesman said sports and politics should be kept apart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... sporting event and not a political event. But having said that, this now is an opportunity for China to showcase itself as a modern nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Joining me now from the White House, CNN's Major Garrett.

Major, the Bush administration is taking what sounds like a hands-off approach to this decision by the IOC. How does it fit into the overall U.S. policy toward China?

GARRETT: Well, Judy, senior administration officials never tire of saying this is a complex relationship with China at many different levels. The United States continues to press concerns over human rights and religious freedom, but also wants to deal with China on issues of trade and supports, for example, China's ascension to the WTO.

And ultimately, after the EP-3 episode, the standoff over the spy plane, there was some suggestion that possibly U.S. opposition to the Beijing bid for the Olympics might come up, but it never did. Policy makers decided there was zero diplomatic percentage in doing that, that it was much better to pursue these bilateral issues with China straightforwardly and not in any way muddy them by opposing China's bid to the Olympics, leaving that entirely to the International Olympic Committee.

When President Bush and President Jiang Zemin talked last Thursday, this topic never came up. And as you said, right now the White House wants to say sports and politics don't mix. "We'll take our differences, and there is where we agree one at a time with China." Judy?

WOODRUFF: All right, Major Garrett.

Well, China's President Jiang Zemin joined in the celebration in Beijing today. He thanked the IOC and, he invited fans around the world to visit Beijing in 2008. For more on the Chinese government reaction to the IOC decision, I'm joined here in Washington by Yang Jiechi, who is China's ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Ambassador, what does this mean for your country?

YANG JIECHI, CHINA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, I think it's great news. It means that Beijing will be the site for the Olympics in the year 2008, and we can welcome sportsmen from all over the world and from the United States. I think the sky in Beijing will be bluer and the grass greener. It will be a much better city. And I think it's just terrific.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Ambassador, critics of China's record on human rights are saying that they now want to see whether China, as a result of this decision, will take positive steps to improve its human rights record. What do you say to them?

YANG: Well, when people visit China, I think they come away deeply impressed by the development of human rights in China. In the last 20 years, China has been able to lift about almost a total population of the United States, something like that, out of poverty. And now you can see from the jubilation scene that the Chinese people really enjoy this great news, and it is really freedom of expression there.

WOODRUFF: But in recent months, it's been widely reported, Mr. Ambassador, new curbs on the Internet, the muzzling of several independent press organizations, the Falun Gong and other examples, detaining U.S. academics visiting in China?

YANG: Well, every country is concerned about its national security, and China's judiciary is independent. We will handle cases according to law. No time is lost in handling these cases. About Falun Gong, this is an evil cult. The real leader of Falun Gong is talking about the explosion of the earth, and he was able to do something to postpone the explosion of the earth. And can anybody believe this kind of stuff? This is not a religion, this is an evil cult.

WOODRUFF: So when Senator Jesse Helms, who was the chairman, who's now the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says today that the IOC has awarded the game, and I'm reading here, to a government that -- quote -- "arbitrarily imprisons, tortures, murders and harvests the organs of its own people." What do you say to Senator Helms?

YANG: Well, that's not true, because there are strict regulations in China about this kind of organ transfer, that type of thing. And there are some reports, but they are not the truth. So people have to look at the truth, look at facts very carefully. In China, actually, people's living standards are improving, and the rule of law is really the order of the day.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Mr. Yang Jiechi, we thank you very much for joining us.

YANG: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: It's good to see you.

YANG: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, members of Congress who were against the Beijing Olympic bid crossed party lines and political ideologies. Republican Mike Pence of Indiana is among that group, and he joins me now.

Congressman, you hear what the ambassador is saying that so many of these allegations are just not true about China?

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Well, and we just know from international human rights organizations, Judy, that regrettably they are true. U.S. academics at this very hour are being incarcerated in China. We saw the detainment of our own U.S. troops.

The Olympics is about celebrating the community of nations and has been since founding in the 19th century. And frankly, China hasn't been a good neighbor and I really am saddened by the International Olympic Committee's decision.

WOODRUFF: There are those, however, Congressman, who say as a result of this decision they believe China will now have the incentive to improve its human rights performance.

PENCE: Well, I understand those arguments. Some of them are coming out of the White House that flanks us here tonight. But let me say that just as it was the wrong decision for the IOC in 1936 to give Germany a backdrop to celebrate its dictatorship, just as it was wrong in 1980 to give the Soviet Union a backdrop.

Backdrops are important, just as they are here at this studio at CNN. And I believe it is wrong for the IOC to give the communist dictatorship of China this worldwide stage.

WOODRUFF: You mentioned the White House, the official position of the White House was neutral. They in effect said we're not going to take a position. Do you think that then it made it much easier for the IOC to make this decision?

PENCE: I believe that it did. I was disappointed with the White House posture on this. I joined some 72 other Republicans and Democrats on the Hill that called for a resolution to urge the IOC to stay away from Beijing in 2008, and presidential leadership would have been a benefit, but I believe there will be action on Capitol Hill in the coming days in a bipartisan way to make sure that China knows that we are serious about human rights.

WOODRUFF: Well, they're scheduled to join the World Trade Organization next year. What can Congress do?

PENCE: Well -- and I'm a supporter of renewing annual normal trade relations. The Chinese people are wonderful people. The athletes of China are some of the best in the world. I think they finished second at the last Olympics.

But the dictatorship of China -- we ought not to give them a showcase and a backdrop to celebrate a government that denies human rights to the people of their country, and I simply believe that being serious about communicating those standards is what the United States ought to be about.

WOODRUFF: All right. Congressman Mike Pence, we thank you very much for joining us.

PENCE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate it. Thank you.

And when we come back, a look at campaign finance reform. I talked today with Senator John McCain. He says it's still alive. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Now, to a big political question being asked around Washington: Does campaign finance reform have a future? On this day after a procedural dispute pulled the plug on a long-awaited House debate, I spoke with the leading advocate of reform, Senator John McCain. I asked him if his proposed ban on soft money is alive, dead, on life support, or what?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We had to defeat a procedure that was patently unfair. All we're seeking is an up-or-down vote on their proposal and up-or-down vote on our proposal, and we had to defeat that procedure, which was -- called for 14 votes on what is known as a manager's package, which is a routine order of business.

WOODRUFF: But you don't have a bill on the floor for debate, for vote, the leadership in the House is saying: "We don't know why we should do this any time soon, if at all."

MCCAIN: Well, that's pretty much been their attitude in the past. But here's the situation: I talked to Congressman Turner who -- of the Democrat Blue Dogs, they are prepared if necessary to start a discharge petition, which would force it on the floor. I talked with Senator Daschle, he's prepared to put it on bills that go over to the House. They are prepared to block the procedures.

Look, what we want to do is sit down and talk with Speaker Hastert, who is a very fine and decent man, and say, look, let's work this out. They almost had a deal, as you know, yesterday, and unfortunately it fell through, but I believe the chances are very good. We work it out. Get it up in one day as it was planned to do, and pass it.

WOODRUFF: But you have some pretty hard feelings here. You got Speaker Hastert accusing you of bullying, you've got Tom DeLay and others talking about, you know, unsavory tactics on the part of the reformers. I mean, how do you get beyond all that?

MCCAIN: Well, I think you just have to -- one thing is, you don't respond, and you don't get down on that level. I respect the views of all opponents, especially Speaker Hastert. And we just move forward. Let it cool down over the weekend.

It will make them very well aware of the fact that we have many methods and tools in our arsenal. But what we most like to do is get it done in an orderly fashion and one that the American people would appreciate, rather than this kind of personal attacks, which nobody likes.

WOODRUFF: So, there is no doubt in your mind as you stand here today, Senator McCain, you can get this back to the floor for a vote?

MCCAIN: There's not a doubt in my mind.

WOODRUFF: Based on the same coalition of people who were with you on this rule vote yesterday?

MCCAIN: Based on the same coalition and based on fairness. Look, if they believe they have the votes to defeat it, fine, take it up and defeat it. I'll accept that verdict. But what we can't accept is a process that doesn't give us our fair vote and their fair vote.

WOODRUFF: What about the argument that if your side had had the votes to support the substance within all these amendments that were there, that you would have -- that you wouldn't have had these problems that you had yesterday?

MCCAIN: In all due respect, it's a little ludicrous, because all they had to say was, "we'll vote on ours and we'll vote on yours," we could have had it done in a matter of time. We all know that. We are confident of the votes.

But if they don't think we have the votes, let us have the vote, not go through some convoluted procedure that requires 14 votes on basically what is called the manager's amendment, the same thing that we in the Senate passed after we passed campaign finance reform.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to those, senator, who are saying this is a defeat for you in the sense that you are over there getting yourself involved in House politics and House matters, and the result is nothing right now for campaign finance reform?

MCCAIN: No, the only time I went over there was when I saw that there was an unfair procedure being used, which didn't allow us our vote, and I got involved, and we defeated their effort to have a procedure on the floor which patently unfair. So, we won on that one.

WOODRUFF: What does this say about your party's leadership? Your party's leadership in the House, these people who have said some very rough things about you and the others who are pro-campaign finance reform?

MCCAIN: This is a rough business. We are asking incumbents to vote to change a system that keeps incumbents in office. Ninety-eight percent of the House was reelected last time. I understand that. One, it doesn't affect my respect for them, and it certainly is going to affect our dedication to get this done in a fair fashion.

WOODRUFF: When do you think you will have your next conversation with Speaker Hastert?

MCCAIN: We are going to meet Tuesday with some of the Republicans first, and then we are going to meet with the Democrats, and I know that some of the Republicans are going to be talking to Speaker Hastert. I'd be glad to talk with him at any time. It's probably more appropriate for the Republicans in the House who support reform to talk with him.

WOODRUFF: All right, Senator John McCain. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Bottom line: Senator McCain says he has the votes, but he also says we're prepared to play hardball if we have to. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley joins us now. Candy, what are you finding out about the senator's involvement in this House wrangling yesterday and what are House Republicans saying about it?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on which House Republican you talk to. The leadership is upset. I know that is a strange position for John McCain, the Republican leadership is hardly every angry with him. But they are again. And that's because what happened is that when these about seven Republicans that had been button holed by Senator McCain on this rule saying, vote with us on the rule, this was a big thing to do to vote against your own leadership.

And they went to Speaker Hastert and said we're going to vote against your rule, and he said I won't forget this. They are a little upset with John McCain for his very hands-on role. Now Congressman Shays, one of the key sponsors of this bill didn't ask his Republicans to go against the rule. It was John McCain who did it and who got it done.

WOODRUFF: McCain says campaign finance reform is alive and well. He's got the votes to get it back to the floor. What are the people you are talking to saying?

CROWLEY: Again, this depends on who you talk to. It's going to be tough. It's a lot tougher to get it on the floor now. This discharge petition that he's talking about, that's going to be hard to do and takes time. There is talk among some of the supporters of the bill, maybe what we'll do is we'll take some of these other bills that come up and we'll vote against the rule on them and slow down the House.

I think you saw in the interview that they intend to go very public with this and keep the pressure up publicly. That hasn't worked all that well before, but they want to keep the public pressure up and they want to say well, we could do the discharge petition and we could hold up some of these other bills and just sort of see if they can push the speaker into some kind of arrangement.

WOODRUFF: Candy, quickly, if it were dead what are the political ramifications?

CROWLEY: You know, even Democrats I talk to say look, you get hammered in "The New York Times," and you get hammered in "The Washington Post," but the public, when you say, do you care about campaign finance reform, they say yes, but they list their top 10 and it's way down the list. So they don't think there is a lot of political implications for this,but that's clearly what the supporters want to do is make some political implications.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley. And now back to the Chandra Levy case. I understand there's a development. Our Bob Franken is on it -- Bob.

FRANKEN: We are looking at a variety of developments right now, Judy. The revised pictures of Chandra Levy that we've been talking about are being distributed and we probably get in just a few moments a chance to look at them. Here we go, as a matter of fact. s These are pictures of Chandra Levy as she might appear if she was disguising herself, trying to evade detection. You can see that they are coming out now on the Web site of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. You can see a variety of different hair-dos, you can see blond hair, different length of hair, that would be a wig on the left, if she's cut it, if she's curled it, that type of thing.

This by the way is part of an optimistic scenario by the police department. This is assuming that she has not met harm and that for whatever reason she has decided to go into hiding, and so they are putting out these pictures and they are going to give them as much distribution as possible so people can see what she might look like if they spot her on the street.

And if you don't mind, I believe they have available also just for comparison sake, the picture of Chandra Levy as she actually looks. Let's see if we can make that one so you get a comparison between the two. Fight now you are seeing the revised ones. These are computer-enhanced images of Chandra Levy -- I am told we don't have them right now -- but I suspect that that picture is pretty much indelibly burned into everyone's mind.

But these are pictures where a computer was used to see how she might look with a variety of different hair styles and hair colors, that type of thing. It's just one of the developments today of course.

We are reporting now on what Abbe Lowell said at his news conference a short while ago which you saw live on CNN. The headline out of that was that Lowell, the attorney for Gary Condit had hired a lie detector expert to administer the polygraph test Gary Condit. There has been a lot of discussion about having such a test administered. But Lowell had one done by an FBI expert, Barry Colvert, somebody who has been with the FBI and as a matter of fact participated in some of its most major cases over the year, including most of the significant espionage cases.

He is no longer an instructor for the FBI, but he was after his 35-year career was over. Lowell was saying that given the prominence of this man in the polygraph field and given the performance of Condit that this should satisfy the police. The results are being sent to the FBI.

Before we get to the results themselves, I want to point out that the police wanted to administer their own test with their own range of questions and their own polygraph operators. But Lowell says that given that performance, which he described as, on the key questions, coming within 1/100 of 1 percent of accuracy, that that should be sufficient.

WOODRUFF: Bob, if I can cut in here, I want to ask you about something Abbe Lowell kept coming back to. He kept saying the press is so focused on Congressman Condit they haven't focused enough on other theories about what might have happened to her. What about the police? Based on your reporting is it your sense the police have also been mostly focused on Congressman Condit, and perhaps not enough on the other potential outcomes here?

FRANKEN: Let me use another word I think will describe the police and Congressman Condit. They have been preoccupied with Congressman Condit because the media have been preoccupied with Congressman Condit. To put it very bluntly, there wouldn't be this kind of intense interest in the missing person case of Chandra Levy had there not been all the burning questions that were raised about the nature of the relationship between the congressman and Chandra Levy.

In the weeks that the congressman denied through his spokespeople that he was having the romantic relationship with her, the 24-year-old former intern, that ultimately in front of investigators on last Friday night according to police sources, he confirmed. So there is that kind of intense interest, and Abbe Lowell's message since he came on was to try and tamp down that, and say wait a minute, you are getting in the way of the police investigation.

Again you are looking at the pictures of Chandra Levy as the computer has decided she would look if she tried to disguise herself, varying hair-dos, varying hair lengths, varying hair colors. This is how Chandra Levy would look according to computer at the police department if, in fact, she was in disguise.

WOODRUFF: Bob, we are also joined by CNN's Martin Savidge, who is out in Modesto at the home of Chandra Levy's parents.

Martin, do we know yet what the Levy family is saying about this announcement by Congressman Condit's attorney that he's taken a lie detector test, and that if you believe what they are saying, he came through it with having had nothing to do with her disappearance?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, we've had no official comment from the Levy family here. it was a telephone call by us that alerted the Levy family. They were not aware until we called that there was going to be this press conference by the attorney Abbe Lowell.

And we know that Mrs. Levy apparently had plans to go out for this afternoon and instead, when being told this news conference was going to take place, seemed to have canceled those plans and remained inside.

Dr. Levy is not here and she apparently has been paying very close attention to the developments and what has been reported. We did ask her knowing that we had an idea what would be said in the news conference, if she would have a statement. She said it was highly unlikely that they would have any sort of immediate comment.

Traditionally what the family has done when there have been developments in the past is talk to their attorney Billy Martin in Washington, D.C., and also talk to the other people that have been counseling the family and helping them through this ordeal. When they do talk, though, it should be interesting, after all it was the Levy family that came forward on Monday and requested that the congressman submit himself to a lie detector test, in some cases almost demand that he take a lie detector test, which now, according to his attorney, he has done and passed that test.

Of course, there could be some concerns on the part of the family and on the part of their attorney that the conditions of this test were not exactly meeting up to the requirements or the standards that they would have liked. However, coming out and saying that, given the fact that he passed so well, could generate some negative attitudes towards the family themselves, in light of the fact that Abbe Lowell has said this man has done everything he possibly could.

So it's a very delicate, a very critical moment for the Levy family, but it should be pointed out most of all, lie detector test, no lie detector test, they did not get the answer to the question that they had, and still have, where is their daughter -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Martin, you do get, as you are suggesting, two very different pictures here. You have Abbe Lowell, Congressman Condit's attorney saying the congressman has done everything he possibly could to help the police to work with the Levy family.

On the other hand as you say, it's the Levy family that was asking for a lie detector test, that was asking the congressman to be more forthcoming.

SAVIDGE: Well, one of the things that could come out as a result of this is that it could take it from what has been a national debate -- some would say a national preoccupation -- in trying to figure out in people's own personal minds whether or not the congressman had anything to do with the disappearance of Chandra Levy.

Take it away from the national framework and bring it back here to sort of the Modesto area, where essentially it now boils down to the constituents not wondering so much whether he had anything do with Chandra Levy's disappearance, but whether they are dissatisfied enough with what they have now learned about his private life when balancing it out against what they certainly know of his public life in representing this area.

So it becomes, perhaps, more of a focus right here in the Modesto area although, as we found out, there is never any certainty in trying to guess what comes next in this particular investigation -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Martin Savidge out in Modesto, Bob Franken here in Washington.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Here in Washington, the big debate that did not happen this week left more than a few politicians feeling like losers. But it's our Bill Schneider's job to find a winner in the jaws of defeat. He's with us from Los Angeles.

Hi, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Hi, Judy.

You know, in the fight over campaign finance reform this week, no group of legislators was more influential than the 36-member Congressional Black Caucus. How did African-American legislators enhance their influence? Not by sticking together, but by not sticking together. A most unusual tactic for the "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): When campaign finance reform came up in the House of Representatives two years ago, the Congressional Black Caucus voted overwhelmingly for it. This year it was different. Oh, yes, the reform bill favored by Democratic leaders got the endorsement of some influential Black Caucus members, but several African-American Democrats endorsed an alternative bill favored by -- can you imagine -- the Republican leadership.

In fact, the chair of the Black Caucus task force on campaign finance signed on as a co-sponsor of the GOP bill.

REP. ALBERT WYNN (D), MARYLAND: We have come up with what we think is a more balanced bill. It represents a compromise.

SCHNEIDER: What changed between 1999 and now? One word: Florida. Black legislators suddenly realized that banning soft money might doom efforts to protect minority voting rights.

WYNN: It also recognizes another important objective, and that is that the legitimate uses of soft money for voter education, voter mobilization, voter registration, get-out-the-vote, if you will, should be preserved.

SCHNEIDER: Supporters of campaign finance reform insisted that blacks are always hurt by big-money politics.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: The average person in America, and the average person in their district obviously loses out when people can give a half a million or $1 million. They have very few constituents like that.

SCHNEIDER: Not so fast, said some black legislators. The Democratic Party raises a lot of money from rich people, and that money is used to help us.

The Congressional Black Caucus was divided. That increased its bargaining power. Instead of having their votes taken for granted as usual, they had to be courted.

FEINGOLD: Well, we've been working closely with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and I think the vast majority of both of those groups are going to support our legislation.

SCHNEIDER: The reform bill sponsors had to make changes to attract black support. Those changes are what enabled House Republican leaders to stop the bill by insisting that they be voted on one at a time. The Black Caucus got attention, it got flattery, it got concessions -- but it didn't get the blame.

REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: If this bill goes down, it would be the fault of my own party. That's where the blame will lie.

SCHNEIDER: The Black Caucus did, however, get the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Now, we got some interesting viewer nominations for this week's play of the week. One nomination for Susan Levy, Chandra's mother, for calling on Congressman Gary Condit to take that polygraph test, thereby shifting the burden of proof.

And using a little vivid imagery, our faithful correspondent Jacqueline Dyson wrote of the Black Caucus -- quote -- "Their objections to the bill, if not addressed, could prove to be a spike strip on the highway to campaign finance reform."

Now, I'd say the Congressional Black Caucus had a message for reform-minded Democrats: You think about what you are doing, there may be unintended consequences. Because you know what? There always are -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Spike strip, eh? We're going to have to remember that one, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: We sure will.

WOODRUFF: Thanks.

All right, INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: For all of us at INSIDE POLITICS, that's it from here. I'm Judy Woodruff. "FIRST EVENING NEWS" is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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