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Condit Interviewed a Fourth Time

Aired July 27, 2001 - 12:30   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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S MOTHER: Anything that we can to get our daughter home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: Plus, missing in America, Jill Behrman's bike found far from her home, is the last known trace of this Indiana University student. Today, her parents speak out on BURDEN OF PROOF.

ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF, with Greta Van Susteren.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF. Last night, Congressman Gary Condit spent more than two hours with FBI and police investigators, sources tell CNN. It's the fourth time Condit has talked to law enforcement officials.

But before we get to our Chandra Levy discussion, news in Florida. Today, in a West Palm Beach courtroom, 14-year-old Nathaniel Brazill was sentenced to 28 years in prison. Brazill was tried as an adult for killing his teacher last year and faced a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Joining us today are here in Washington are Katie Rin, Alexia Morrison, who's the former chief of the Felony Trial Division at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and Ron Sullivan, general counsel to the D.C. public defender's office. And also joining us is CNN's national correspondent Bob Franken.

Bob, the congressman met with authorities yesterday. What do we know about it?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that, as advertised, there would be a discussion with the FBI profiler trying to get at the mindset Chandra Levy when she disappeared. Of course, Condit's contribution would be, as he's acknowledged, according to sources, he had a romantic relationship with Chandra Levy, one that might give him particular access to some of her more intimate thoughts. So, a lot of what was taken up with that.

There were also D.C. police detectives. There was some discussion, we are led to believe, that -- of the timeline on May 1, Congressman Condit's schedule in other words. There were some gaps that the police really wanted to look at a little bit more closely in the afternoon. As you can see, all of this occurred as he was leaving the Agricultural Committee meeting last night. It was time for a dinner break and the congressman went from this session down through the underground garage in the building and then went to discuss things with the police and FBI agents at the office of his attorney Abbe Lowell.

VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, how long did the conversation take place? The only reason I'm interested is because part of it was an attempt to profile Chandra Levy and some profilers told me they'd want several hours with congressman.

FRANKEN: And what's interesting is is the police put out a news release saying that the discussion lasted under an hour. It occurs to me that what possibly is going to -- what we'll possibly find out is that the D.C. police were there under an hour and that the rest of the time was spent strictly in the presence of the profiler.

And of course, you raise the question that we're going to be trying to pursue, will there be another session.

VAN SUSTEREN: Alexia, in terms of what the congressman needs really -- I mean obviously he has nothing to prove. He has the presumption of innocence. He hasn't been charged with anything. Police say he's not a suspect. But this timeline, do you think re- creating timeline might sort of call off the dogs so people would stop heckling him and getting -- wanting more information from him?

ALEXIA MORRISON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, obviously that's something that the congressman would dearly love to see happen at this point. You know, there are always going to be further details to follow up. The fact that, unfortunately, he was not completely forthcoming the first time they talked to him or even the second time, means that there will be a level of skepticism or cynicism in the minds of the law enforcement investigators as to everything he says. And so, he's likely to be subjected to continuing scrutiny.

He's clearly central to the missing person's investigation in the sense that he knew this woman. He knew her quite well and the police want his help in putting together where her mind was at the time, what her emotional state was and everything that he knows about how she was feeling and what she might have been doing and who she might have been seeing. So it's got to be tough for him, I think, on all those accounts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, Ron, you know, it seems to me that his life would sure be a lot easier if people weren't suspicious. I mean OK, he's not a suspect but everyone certainly has some question about him. The police do. Can -- well, he certainly has an obligation, you know, to help look for Chandra Levy, provide information -- at least a moral obligation. To deflect off him, I think that, you know, if I could provide, as his defense counsel, minute bye minute -- beginning at 1:00 p.m. when she logged off that computer for the next 36, 48 hours, boy, that would at least make life easier for him. RON SULLIVAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I actually think that's right. Generally, our instincts, as defense attorneys, are to say to a client, don't say anything. Don't say anything at all. Here, we have an interesting situation where certain political pressures may be intention with certain legal interests. And it is the fact that so many people are suspicious of him and the media has picked up on it. Those facts combined are generating, I think, in part the very intense look at the congressman. And if he could do something to deflect some of that suspicion, which is really his own fault in the first place, but if he could do something to deflect it, then that would go a long way towards making people back off.

And as Alexia mentioned before, if he had more fulsome up front, it probably wouldn't have snowballed to this in the first place.

VAN SUSTEREN: Alexia, if you were interviewing him -- I mean obviously we have to speak hypothetically. You know, we're all so removed from the real facts, as Ron had just said. But if you were interviewing him, time No. 4, how aggressive would you be? Or would you sort of ask open-ended questions? What would -- how -- what would be your strategy do you think?

MORRISON: I think I would just want to explore with him every detail that I could think of that he might have some knowledge about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Would it hurt him if he -- I mean, like, would you hold it against him that his details -- that his mind may now have drifted a little bit because no one has a perfect recall?

MORRISON: Well, no one has a perfect recall and you understand if somebody says, "Gee, I'm not sure. I think the answer might be so and so." But, you know, at this point, there's really no incentive for law enforcement types to become confrontational with him. He's there with his attorney. This is not a classic first time interrogation. This is a scenario in which you really just would like to get down on the record what his position is at the time that you're interviewing him at least with respect to all of the salient details.

VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, before I let you go, was this a negotiated meeting in terms of you know, the threshold, what could be asked of him and not asked of him? Or was this an open-ended questioning by the FBI?

FRANKEN: You know, we don't know. It certainly was a negotiated session. Obviously, the negotiations also concerned what would be allowed to be reported, that type of thing, what kind of statements would be made. But the perimeters of the questions certainly came up. As a matter of fact, one of the questions was whether a D.C. police investigator would be there. At first, it looked like there would not be one but of course, one did sit in, according to all the statements we've gotten. And of course, the scope of the questions could have been negotiated. Of course, the attorney was there at all times, Abbe Lowell to advise his client not to answer a question if that's what he wanted to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: But at this point, we don't know if he declined to answer questions or not or whether there were any road rules.

FRANKEN: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Bob Franken, thanks a lot for joining us. And we're going to take a break. We'll be back with more on the search for Chandra Levy and find out what Congressman Condit's colleagues are saying about him. Stay with us.

(BEGIN LEGAL BRIEF)

Mayor Phillip Giordano of Waterbury, Connecticut was arrested and accused of luring a minor for sex. Federal officials filed two charges against Giordano and a federal judge ordered Giordano to be held without bail until a hearing on Tuesday.

(END LEGAL BRIEF)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to BURDEN OF PROOF.

Alexia, it was -- we learned yesterday that in early May a woman named Joleen McKay contacted the FBI and said that many years ago, when she was an adult woman, she had an affair with Congressman Condit. There was also -- we've heard sources say that one of Condit's aides suggested to her that she keep it quiet or it's going to ruin her. He has flatly denied it.

Is -- I mean assume for the second that -- for a moment that someone did tell her to keep it quiet, is it obstruction of justice?

MORRISON: Depends. I'm going to say like a lawyer.

VAN SUSTEREN: On?

MORRISON: Well, if you are suggesting to someone that perhaps they not go to the press with this kind of information, that's one thing. If what you're suggesting to them is that they either avoid the question, if asked by law enforcement officials, or answer questions from law enforcement officials in some way other than the truth, then you're flirting with obstruction of justice and witness tampering. And ...

VAN SUSTEREN: What if there's no crime? I mean, like, at this point, you know -- that we have a missing adult. We don't even know if a crime occurred. I mean like, I -- you know, as a practical matter, I think that many of us think that something bad has happened to Chandra Levy. But let's -- but there still is no crime at this point.

MORRISON: Yes, but it is still a police investigation and there is a potential crime that is under investigation or arguably under investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that enough for obstruction of justice, that you lie to the police or the FBI or you try to deceive them or mislead them when there's an investigation for a potential crime?

MORRISON: Well, certainly, to the extent that you suggest that someone lie to the police, for example, there's a specific statute with respect to FBI agents, that lying to federal officer, that includes FBI agents, is per se, a federal criminal offense. So, depending on the circumstances you may be implicating different offenses. And it's going to depend very much on where the investigation is, what the intent of the person was in speaking to the perspective witness.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ron, if you were the lawyer, how concerned are you?

SULLIVAN: I'm concerned. But obstruction of justice, it's an interesting crime and it all -- or criminal liability is triggered by the individual's intent.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you prove intent?

SULLIVAN: That's the $64,000 question. I mean the government will come in and show circumstantial evidence that tends to indicate that the person specifically intended to corruptly impede a pending investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: But is that higher in this case? I mean you know there's an on-going investigation, you know there's a missing woman and you then say -- hypothetically, he has denied it, but you say basically keep this one quiet.

SULLIVAN: Well, see, there are good facts and bad facts, inculpatory facts and exculpatory facts.

VAN SUSTEREN: What are the good facts for this guy?

SULLIVAN: The good facts for this guy...

VAN SUSTEREN: Besides the fact he denies it.

SULLIVAN: Well -- but, let's assume that the statement was made and proved up just for...

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

SULLIVAN: ... purposes of this discussion. The good facts are that there's a prior relationship with the young woman. He knew her from high school. So, if you take that statement and leave it there undressed with any context, it's troubling. But if the context is this is a person who I've known for 15 years. This is a person for whom I have fond, friendly feelings. This is a person...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I tell all my old friends to keep their mouth shut?

SULLIVAN: I could tell my friend to keep their mouth shut because -- not because I want to impede an investigation but because I know the sort of media attention or negative press attention that this person might get if they are involved in this sort of thing. I know that this woman might have to go out and hire expensive lawyers and go into bankruptcy. I know that there could be all sorts of collateral consequences to her.

VAN SUSTEREN: That sounds like a good argument. How about that, Alexia? Alexia, I actually think that's a pretty good one.

MORRISON: Well, I do think that you would expect, if there ever were a prosecution for obstruction of justice or witness tampering, that precisely that argument would be made. But look, this was a congressman who was simply trying to conceal his extramarital affairs and matters that would be described, for defense purposes, as purely personal as opposed to attempting to obstruct an investigation. I mean that's where the tension is. And again, it's going to depend on the kind of charge that's brought and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Based on the hypothetical that we've -- that I've posed and, again, recognizing it's been denied, would you bring that case to the grand jury and ask for an indictment.

MORRISON: I'd have to know along lot more.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, fair enough.

MORRISON: I mean it's going to depend on the fine points.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me give you another hypothetical and -- to you, Ron. Suppose that your client drove the congressman out to Virginia, knowing that there's going to be a search of an apartment in a few hours, to run errands, including dump trash and there's no -- we have no information of whether they know -- as what the trash is. But does that person have a little problem with the authorities, do you think?

SULLIVAN: It raises the specter of impropriety, certainly. I don't think, based on those facts alone, it's sufficient to suggest that he tamper with the evidence -- the driver.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so where does the problem arise then?

SULLIVAN: The problem arises with knowledge of what the driver knew. If in fact, the driver was privy to the fact that there was something in the garbage that may be relevant to a pending investigation...

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

SULLIVAN: ... then there's a problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, well, let me go down one grade. Suppose that he doesn't know that there's a problem, that this may be relevant to an investigation but he knows it was taken from the apartment and the police are headed over to the apartment to do a search, then what?

SULLIVAN: I don't -- I still don't' think that rises to the level of a criminal violation. VAN SUSTEREN: Would you be worried?

SULLIVAN: Had he consulted me prior to that, I would have told him you know, say you've got a flat tire.

VAN SUSTEREN: And don't go.

SULLIVAN: And don't be involved in it. I think if rubber hit road and we went into court and based on those facts alone, I don't think there would be a conviction. But it's getting close. And it's certainly within the ambit of potential criminal liability. So I would really advise -- would have advised him to stay away from that apartment.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Alexia, under those facts that I proposed, do you need much more or is that something you would snoop around a little bit more as a prosecutor?

MORRISON: Oh, you might snoop around. You might want that person much more as a witness than you want them, as a defendant because -- I agree with Ron, there's just -- there's a lack of clear intent and involvement.

VAN SUSTEREN: But he needs the lawyer.

MORRISON: And you -- well, doesn't everybody?

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me go now to Capitol Hill. We have standing by Congressman Bob Barr from the great state of Georgia.

Congressman Barr, one of your colleagues last night said that Congressman Condit should resign. What do you make of that, No. 1 and No. 2, he thinks there ought to be a rule that members of Congress should basically stay away from interns. Do you need a rule like that?

REPRESENTATIVE BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: I don't think you do. It certainly is unethical for a member of Congress, as with any employee or government official to engage in that sort of behavior. I don't think you need a new rule to do that. Although, it certainly is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Washington these days that there are those that legitimately, in a way, feel that we need to clarify that.

But I do think that Congressman Condit ought to resign based not so much on his personal behavior but on the fact that I believe that as a member of Congress sworn to uphold the law and clothed with the authority to make our laws, he ought not to continue in office once he has obstructed justice and tampered with witnesses. Even though that may or may not rise to the level of a criminal conviction, I don't think you need that in order for it to be unethical behavior for a member.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman Barr, I mean the Congress is a big place. But have you like run into him in the past days or weeks at all in the halls?

BARR: No, I haven't. He's been voting. I've seen him on the floor from time to time. But I've had no conversations with him.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you before this? I mean is this a congressman that you had some sort of friendship with before May 1?

BARR: Not in particular, I had always got along with him fine. But we really had very little in common because we serve on completely different committees, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about the option -- I mean I know that you thought he should resign and now we have this other congressman -- does. What about sort of a middle ground that while the investigation is going that he step aside from the Intelligence Committee that he serves on in the House since there is -- I mean some people voice concern whether or not, at the moment, he should be on the Intelligence Committee?

BARR: I think that's a very legitimate and very immediate concern. The work in which that committee engages is clearly the most sensitive of any committee of the Congress and for a member to be embroiled in these sorts of problems, even as he gets access to our nation's most sensitive secrets, I think raises a very immediate concern that definitely ought to be addressed.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, Congressman Bob Barr, thanks for joining us. Up next, Missing in America, a 19-year-old girl vanished, leaving her stereo blaring in her family's home. We talk to the parents of Jill Behrman right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back to BURDEN OF PROOF.

Our Missing in America series continues today with a profile of 19-year-old Jill Behrman of Bloomington, Indiana. She was last seen May 31 of the year 2000. There have been dozens of searches for Jill, and while police say they have had some leads, there has been no word of her whereabouts.

With us today are Jill's parents, Eric and Marilyn Behrman.

Eric, first to you. You expected to have lunch with your daughter the day she disappeared. What happened?

ERIC BEHRMAN, FATHER OF JILL BEHRMAN: Well, we met with her grandparents and we had planned to have lunch with Jill, went to the restaurant. And Jill did not show up. When she didn't show up, then I checked at where she had been at work and I noticed her bicycle wasn't there. And so, basically, we assumed that maybe she had forgotten to meet us for lunch. And it was then when I went home and the stereo was playing in the house and the TV was on and her backpack was sitting right there by the back door, which she would have normally taken to work. VAN SUSTEREN: Marilyn, the bicycle was found quite distance from your home. Is it your theory that she would have got on the bicycle, left the home, left the stereo blaring, didn't take her backpack, went for bicycle ride and then vanished at that point? Is that...

MARILYN BEHRMAN, MOTHER OF JILL BEHRMAN: I think that that's the most likely scenario. She had probably an hour and a half at the most to ride before she needed to get to work at noon that day. And it just appears that she went for a bike ride. She would use her bike ride as a workout.

VAN SUSTEREN: Marilyn, would she -- do you find it odd that she didn't take her backpack or is that not particularly odd?

MARILYN BEHRMAN: Well, the thing that's odd about that is she would have taken it to work, which, at that time, we didn't realize she had not been at work that day. But that was sort of an indication that there was something wrong and that things weren't making sense.

VAN SUSTEREN: Eric, what do you think happened?

ERIC BEHRMAN: Well, as Marilyn mentioned, we think that she probably left the house going for a ride for a workout and either somewhere or another, either through an accident or someone might have on purpose hit her or abducted her or something.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was her bicycle damaged when it was found?

ERIC BEHRMAN: That's something you need to talk to the authorities about. It has been checked and has been sent to Quantico and has been back and forth and is in lock up there in Bloomington.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I assume you've taken a look at the bicycle or haven't you?

ERIC BEHRMAN: Actually, no.

MARILYN BEHRMAN: No, we haven't seen it.

ERIC BEHRMAN: We haven't seen the bicycle.

VAN SUSTEREN: Marilyn, any tips, any reason to have hope?

MARILYN BEHRMAN: Well, there's always hope. Just the fact that they've only found the bike, I guess, gives you a little sense of hope except after all this time, nearly 14 months, it's a little bit difficult to think that she is out there somewhere and that no one that she knows has had contact.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you had any tips that she's been spotted any place, Marilyn?

MARILYN BEHRMAN: I don't think we've actually had tips of being spotted, no. The last time that someone reported seeing Jill was that morning, as she rode south of our house, on a road nearby. VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any reason -- I mean there's such a -- you know, some people just vanish, get mad and walk off. Is there anything to suggest that she might have just walked off and...

MARILYN BEHRMAN: Oh, no. She left behind everything; you know, her purse, her I.D.s, her money. She had just put cash in the bank. You know, her bank account has not been touched. There's never been any mail or phone call. She knows our long distance billing code.

VAN SUSTEREN: Eric, are you satisfied with the level of the police work in this case?

ERIC BEHRMAN: Yes, we're very appreciative of the media coverage that we've had and also with the law enforcement coverage. We have FBI agents that are working on the case every day and local investigators that are working on it along with other authorities from other agencies. And we're in contact with them every other day. And we feel we're very up-to-date with the information that we need to know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Marilyn, obviously, a very difficult time for you, also for the Levy family. We just heard the parents of Chandra Levy speak. Is there any advice or thoughts that you can even extend the Levys?

MARILYN BEHRMAN: I think the big thing is just to do anything in your power to keep the message out there, that your daughter is still missing. Our daughter Jill has been missing for nearly 14 months and ...

VAN SUSTEREN: And with that, we hope that your daughter does show up healthy and alive. And that's all the time we have for today. Thanks to our guests and thank you for watching.

It's "Free-For-All Friday" on "TALKBACK LIVE." See if you can keep up with the action beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

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