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Panelists Discuss Gary Condit and Chandra Levy Investigation

Aired August 22, 2001 - 21:00   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.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Gary Condit, mum for nearly four months and now he's launching the media blitz, including a "People" cover shot along with his wife.

Can the congressman save his political career? Or is this too little too late? Ready to face off in Washington, former prosecutor, best selling author, Barbara Olson. In New York, former prosecutor and now Court TV anchor Nancy Grace. Here in Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos and in Las Vegas, former chief minority counsel for House Judiciary Committee Julian Epstein.

Plus making a case in the court of public opinion: after representing John and Patsy Ramsey as well Richard Jewel, attorney Lin Wood is an expert at it. He will join us, too, from Atlanta. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Lin Wood in a little while by the way, and we know some of you tuned in tonight expecting to see Joanie Laurer, the amazing woman who formerly played the character "Chyna" for the World Wrestling Federation. We had to change our guest plan because of the Condit story, but she has been rescheduled. Chyna will be with us next Wednesday night, one week from tonight.

All right Mark Geragos, what's going on here? "People" suddenly he was hard get, now he is everywhere.

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He is everywhere. "People," "Newsweek" magazine, local TV. I don't know what Barbara is going to do. She can't complain that you can't find the guy anymore, so now she is going to complain that he's probably all over the place to much.

KING: What do you make of this? Is this onslaught time?

GERAGOS: I think clearly at this point they feel that he is out of danger, that there isn't any legal danger, that obviously the political people are telling him at this point you've got to do something, and that is obviously they decided they are going to go out there full force.

KING: Barbara, what do you make of it?

BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think they also realize that they don't want all their eggs in the Connie Chung basket. Why not spread it out a little bit? If Connie Chung doesn't live up to everybody's expectations that night they've got people. They've got the local interviews, they've got some newspapers. It is smart. But it is, let's not forget, this is a PR front. What we are getting is, they have committed. They have decided for him to speak, so let us all average out the speaking engagements, and I think it is wonderful.

Spoken like a great defense attorney, Mark Geragos decides the reason why is because he is no longer under the microscope. I disagree. I think Gary Condit has given numerous interviews to the police. And tomorrow night we are going to be hearing a public interview. And the prosecutors are going to be hearing a public interview, and it is going to be very important because they will know whether he is consistent, they will know how often he has told the story, and if he was forthcoming.

KING: Julian Epstein, what do you make of this -- for want of a better term, blitz?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FMR. HOUSE JUDICIARY COUNSEL: Well, Mark is totally right and Barbara is partially right. Mark is right when he says that I don't think that there is a snowball's chance in hell that they would be putting Gary Condit out with this much media exposure if they really believed that he had some type of legal liability. legal jeopardy.

Barbara is correct when she says they don't want to put all their eggs in one basket. Because the key thing for Gary Condit, the key concept to keep in mind, Larry, is that Gary Condit has to ask for forgiveness has to ask for a second chance. In order to do that, he has got to be able to answer all of the questions that directly relate to Chandra Levy's disappearance and all the collateral questions that people were going to ask about: flight attendants and things like that.

He has got to be able to answer those. I think they worry that if they just do Connie Chung there may be a lot of stones that are unturned. He wants to cover all the bases because he has got to get to the point where he says, I made a mistake, I did what I shouldn't have done. I panicked when I found out that this missing person that I was having a relationship with disappeared. But I had nothing to do with the disappearance, and I want to move on.

And I think most importantly, you will also see his wife, maybe not in the Connie Chung interview, but elsewhere, basically saying that the attacks that are being made on Gary Condit now, are doing far more injury to her and far more discomfort to her than any of the misdeeds, admitted as they were on Mr. Condit's part.

KING: Nancy Grace, welcome back, by the way, your thoughts.

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well I think this will be very different than anything he has done before those alleged interviews with police, because he is not going to have Abbe Lowell holding his hand during all of these interviews, but remember, this is lights camera action for him, This is not a police interview. I disagree with Julian to the sense that he doesn't want to uncover all the stones, turn them all over. If that is really what he had wanted he would have done that day on day one and maybe we would have that video, that security video from Chandra's apartment if he had confessed up at the get-go.

EPSTEIN: That is not what I said. I said what I think he wants to do, Nancy, is he wants to move on to the next phase. He has got to be able to answer all the questions that you and Barbara and others are going to keep attacking him about. He has got to be able to answer those questions and to give sufficient answers so that he can move on. He wants to be able to say he has made a mistake, he wants forgiveness, he wants a second chance. He had nothing to do with the disappearance.

GRACE: But this is not just about him saying, I'm sorry, I made a mistake. There is still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the death or disappearance of Chandra Levy. And hopefully, Miss Chung will stay focused on that, as opposed to collateral issues like, why did you throw out a gift box?

EPSTEIN: Come on, Nancy, all we do is talk about collateral issues on this case.

GRACE: That is not all I do, Sir.

EPSTEIN: I think the central questions that relate to Chandra Levy's disappearance, I think in all likelihood, I think that you know, if the police, if you could somehow discern like Carnac what the police were thinking, I would think that they think the major questions relating to Chandra Levy's disappearance is not so much connected to Gary Condit but connected to a lot of other matters that we don't spend a lot of time talking about.

KING: Mark, is this an admission that he should have done it sooner? GERAGOS: I think it is. I mean, I think, and I have said it to you before, that the fact that he was talking to the police, unless the police told him and maybe we will find this out tomorrow night, the police told him we don't want you to talk, we don't want you to talk about the investigation. That is going to compromise the investigation. That is one thing.

But if they did not, then there probably is a tacit admission.

KING: Now, Lin Wood is an attorney and we are going to take a break and come back talk to him. He has been on this program a number of times. He represented John and Patsy Ramsey and Richard Jewell, two people faced with a lot of public scrutiny. How did he handle that? What does he think of what Condit is doing? And we will come back with our panel after that.

Lin Wood is next, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Joining us now from Atlanta is Lin Wood, the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey and Richard Jewel, involved in civil litigation. We know that John and Patsy Ramsey still have that cloud. Richard Jewell of course we know was not the bomber in Atlanta. What do you make of going on Connie Chung, Condit going on Connie Chung for 30 minutes?

LIN WOOD, RAMSEY FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, it is a first step. It is a first step in what is going to be a long, difficult process for Gary Condit. You know, Larry, Gary Condit has been on trial for the last three months, not in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion.

All of the talking heads, and all of the talk shows, the 24-hour, 7 day a week media frenzy over this case has basically put this man on trial, and for three months, Gary Condit has not really sought to put his case before the jury, the jury being the public.

He is going to start tomorrow night. It is late in the game. I think a lot of opinion has polarized against him. But it is time that he and his advisers recognize as apparently they have, that he has got to go out, and in effect, litigate, at this point time, and start establishing some credibility with the public.

KING: You did the same with the Ramseys and with Jewell, Right?

WOOD: We did with Richard Jewell. I undertook to represent Richard a few days after the bombing, and we were involved, literally, from almost day one in the decisions that were made about trying to take on the media frenzy and the public trial in the media of Richard.

I was actually about three years after the fact in terms of my representation of John and Patsy Ramsey.

KING: OK.

WOOD: And John and Patsy with some good advice and for legitimate reasons had remained pretty much silent for the first three years based on advice of their very skilled criminal lawyers. And they were successful. They are innocent. They weren't charged with a crime. They won in the court of law. But unfortunately, because they never engaged in those first three years to get their side of the story out, to let the people in this country know who they really were, they lost in the court of public opinion because there were too many people that believed they were in fact guilty of the horrible crime of murdering their daughter.

KING: What do you make of this Connie Chung for a half hour, "People" magazine, "Newsweek," local interview, local newspaper?

WOOD: Well, look, Abbe Lowell came in, I believe June 22. Things had already gone, I think, in the wrong direction the first month or so, in terms of the approach that Condit took where he made himself look above the fray, maybe aloof, maybe uncaring.

Now, the decision has been made to engage and you know, the danger here is to avoid what it seems to be, and that is a media campaign PR blitz. The trial in the court of public opinion is no different than a trial in front of a jury in a court of law. The key element to success is to build credibility. The lawyer has to be credible, believable. The client has to be credible and believable. You can't spin it, you can't manufacture it.

Now, I can't sit here and tell you that I agree with the approach that is being taken. I don't represent the Congressman. Abbe Lowell is a great lawyer. I would be more inclined, though, Larry, to put my client out in a no holds barred interview that does not have any conditions, that is not going to be viewed as much as entertainment as it is news.

I would be inclined in a situation that the congressman faces to put him out there, let him give a statement in a press conference, perhaps even in his district in a town meeting format and let the members of the press have at him. Let them ask the tough questions, and he has got to answer those questions.

I noticed the cover of "People" magazine seems to imply that he dodges the tough questions. You can't do that and be credible. And that is the goal that his advisers have to have in mind for him at this point is to build credibility.

KING: So when you told Richard Jewell before a media appearance, answer every question honestly, that is what he did?

WOOD: Let me tell what you we did with Richard. We put him on "60 Minutes" with Mike Wallace. Mike Wallace interviewed Richard for several hours. We knew that was going to be condensed into some few minutes, but Richard Jewell answered every question. He didn't dodge the questions.

And when John and Patsy published their book, that is when they actually went public in terms of giving interviews. Now, I won't say I agree with the way that was done necessarily, but that was really a decision made by the publisher of their book. They had no real control over that format. But you interviewed them, Katie Couric interviewed them, Barbara Walters interviewed them. They answered hours, hours of questions. They didn't dodge a question. And you know it, Larry, they answered every one. That is the way they've got to approach it if you are going to win this case in the court of public opinion.

KING: And Richard Jewell was an excellent guest as well.

WOOD: He was on your show two times. I thought that was his best appearance actually. You saw almost every side of Richard that day.

KING: That was some night. Should Mrs. Condit do something in the media vein other than participating in the "People" interview?

WOOD: Well, I don't know that she participated in that interview. I assume she was present she obviously agreed to be photographed. You know that is a personal question. I know that John and Patsy Ramsey have not ever allowed their son Burke to be involved in any of their media interviews or media appearances because they have sought to protect him.

The congressman has to make a decision with his advisers as to whether it is good and in the interests of his wife of whether she should be protected from this. If she is willing to participate, obviously there is an element that tracks back to the Clinton days where perhaps that could be of help to him.

But she is not going to carry the day for him in my view. He is going to have to do that himself in terms of his credibility and answering all of the questions including the most difficult questions.

KING: His advisers, certainly Abbe Lowell, has been critical of the media. Should he be critical of the media in the interview?

WOOD: I'm sure he will be, and look, let's just face it. The media in my opinion goes too far. They went too far in the Jewell case, they went too far in the Ramsey case. I have watched because it is obviously of interest to me. I clearly believed early on they were going too far in the Condit case.

We just can't have a media that substitutes itself for our criminal justice system, and makes decisions about guilt or innocence with respect to citizens who have never been charged with a crime. He is going to criticize the media. Abbe Lowell should criticize the media. You know that I have criticized the media.

But you have also got to embrace the media to a certain extent, because you've got to recognize the reality of the present media era we live in. These cases are not going to go away. High profile cases are going to continually be tried in the court of public opinion so you've got to use the media just as it, in effect, uses you.

KING: And no one can forget that it is now 114 days and this is about a missing girl.

WOOD: Absolutely. This is about a human tragedy, a tragedy for the Levy family, and a tragedy for the Condit family. It may be news to members of the media, and it may be entertainment to the viewers, but for the people involved it is about life and death and it is about their futures. It is about reality.

KING: Thank you, Lin. We will be calling on you again. Always good seeing you.

WOOD: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Lin Wood in Atlanta. We'll get the panel's comment on what he just said. We will be taking your phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Barbara Olson, according to the subtitle on the cover of "People" we haven't seen the article, "He talks, Gary Condit talks, blunt one moment, ducking tough questions the next."

Your comment on that and what our lawyer friend had to say.

OLSON: Well, you know, the more I have talked with people close to Gary Condit, the more I have come to believe that Gary Condit is a man who knows his own mind, who has directed this a great deal. You know last night we talked a great deal about whether or not this was his lawyer's fault, if they had advised him for legal reasons not to dome forward.

I really do believe that Gary Condit knows his own mind, direct his own mind. He certainly has a staff that doesn't run him. It is the other way around. And I think what we just heard about the PR is a little bit different when you are talking about Richard Jewell and the Ramseys.

These are people that truly if innocent are complete victims. That they didn't participate one way or the other. Either they were guilty, such as the Ramseys or completely innocent, of course, with Richard Jewell we know he was an innocent bystander.

Gary Condit's actions, that we know with Chandra Levy make him a participant in a way with her life, and certainly in her thought processes. So it is a little bit different in that you have to realize that Gary Condit knew her intimately, and at the very least could have told the police some very important things about other individuals she knew, and what she was thinking in those last hours.

You know he last talked to her on the 29th on the telephone. And it is very different if I'm questioning someone who has talked to a friend, or someone who has talked to an intimate and I think that is where the distinction is.

KING: Mark, what do you make of what Lin Wood had to say?

GERAGOS: Well, Lin hit on a point that is, if you've represented people in this kind of a situation, is the most compelling thing. These are human beings that are caught in a, as I've said before, an eye of a hurricane, really. And you've got a completely different situation now than you did even five years ago or even 10 years ago. The media so is much more intense.

The coverage is so wall-to-wall at this point, that at a certain point you need to address that. And as Lin says, you've got to deal with this idea that the media, while at the same time is your enemy, you can't ignore them. You can't just say, "I'm going deal with them later, on my own timetable." You've got to embrace the media. You've got to use the media as well.

KING: "No comment" doesn't work anymore.

GERAGOS: "No comment" is something that just doesn't work in the last five years.

KING: Nancy, what do you make of what Lin Wood had to say? GRACE: Well, I respect Lin a lot, Larry, as you know. Having practiced in Atlanta for many, many years, I met up with Lin many times in the courtroom, and I believe what he's saying, especially when it comes to issue of credibility.

Now, Larry, if we are to believe the front page, the cover page of "People," that he is still dodging questions, that signifies to me unfortunately that this is nothing other than a PR stunt to save his own skin. When it really mattered for him to come forward and speak, he didn't. He remained silent. He dodged the bullet. So I consider this just another fluff PR stunt where he can avoid questions if he so chooses.

KING: And, Julian Epstein, what do you think of what Mr. Wood had to say?

EPSTEIN: Surprisingly, I kind of agree with what Nancy just said. I think the key issue is credibility. And to get credibility, he has got to answer all those questions, no doubt about that.

We talked about this a little bit last night, Larry. The template for credibility, surprisingly enough, was -- and you had to remind me of the year, I think it was 1952 with the Checkers speech that Vice President Nixon gave when he was involved in the Slush Fund scandal. He came out, he looked the camera in the eye, he dealt with all the questions. He had credibility, he got past the scandal.

The second little issue that I thought that Lin mentioned that was important was this issue about attacking the press. You know, as President Kennedy once said, you don't get in a spitting match with somebody that buys oil by the barrel. I think that you can point out that there have been a lot of mistaken stories that have been -- and allegations about Mr. Condit, but I think this notion of trying to displace the blame, if you will, on the media, would be a public relations disaster.

The third point, very quickly, is this analogy to Richard Jewell. A lot of people think that Gary Condit will be the Richard Jewell of American politics. The major difference of course is the way it was handled from a public relations point of view. Jewell got out there early. Condit has made a major mistake by getting out four months after the fact. But it is a dance that the lawyers go through with the public relations people, about what to do. The lawyers have a lot of instincts that tell them, even if the guy is innocent, you don't want to have him out there because innocent people get convicted, as we know, from what the governor of Illinois has done with the moratorium on the death penalty. And you have all these other collateral issues. So it's not as simple as people say.

KING: Let me get a break. And the FBI did goof on Richard Jewell.

EPSTEIN: That's absolutely correct. That's an important point.

KING: We'll be right back with our panel. We'll go to your phone calls in a little while as well. They're with us the rest of the way. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Nancy Grace, can we make the case that if he had no involvement with anything, and all the other information is superfluous to the case at hand and all he's interested in is reelection, all he owes it to is his constituents, right?

GRACE: Well, yes, that's right. But remember, in a global village, so to speak, his constituents are watching television as well, and from what I understand about that letter that he is sending out, the letter to...

KING: It's out now. I mean, we don't tell the contents, but it's out. It's mailed.

GRACE: Right. I understand, it's at the post office now on its way out. But, long story short. I understand that he really doesn't specifically mention Chandra Levy. I think that as much as he tries to allude that, she's in the room with him everywhere he goes. And the fact that he's dodging questions still, Larry, is very disturbing.

KING: Yet his people are saying, Mark, that this is about -- I spoke to Abbe Lowell today, I spoke to others -- this is about Chandra. Their concern is Chandra. That Gary Condit's concerns are the same as the Levys.

GERAGOS: I think that's what it has to be.

KING: So then how could he not mention -- does he not mention her in the letter?

GERAGOS: I would be surprised if that letter to the constituents does not mention Chandra by name or the Levys by name. I think that would be a monumental mistake. This about her, it's got to be about her. She is one of the constituents, her family and they lived there as well, and you just can't ignore them. And you can't just go out and blast -- you can't blast the media here and expect people to come to your defense.

KING: Barbara, are you scoffing?

OLSON: Well...

GERAGOS: I thought she was choking.

EPSTEIN: Always scoffing!

GERAGOS: Barbara, are you OK, there?

OLSON: I'm fine. I completely agree, you know, what Lin said earlier, about come out, say it all. Answer all the questions. We've listed lots of questions. I think everybody in America has their own list of questions. He has to at least answer the top 10. He can't skate over this. If he's innocent or not, he was involved with her. She is missing. He has to answer those questions. He has to tell us why we should believe he's got the character to serve as a member of Congress when he wasn't cooperative, when he didn't admit to a relationship. We have to understand why he put his political career above a missing girl.

GERAGOS: Wouldn't you just be shocked if he didn't answer that question? I just -- if he goes on TV tomorrow night...

OLSON: I would.

GERAGOS: ... and if he doesn't answer that question, Barbara, I may just fall over and have to agree with you, because...

OLSON: Mark, I agree, because the problem is the letter is his perfect opportunity for an opening statement. The letter is being timed to go out before the interview. It's going to arrive tomorrow, it's going to make all of the press -- what a great opportunity to give an opening statement without any questions, to be able to lay out your story...

GERAGOS: I agree. It's a perfect way to lay out the story and tell people exactly how it is you feel, and then to set it up for the interview.

GRACE: But what is very disturbing that Barbara is mentioning: timing. Because timing in my mind was critical almost four months ago, and this is so obviously a PR stunt, as Barbara is pointing out. It's all about saving Condit. It's not about saving Chandra.

KING: I have to get a break. Julian, quickly, though, are you concerned about the headline in "People" which says, "Blunt One Moment, Ducking Tough Questions the Next"?

EPSTEIN: If that is in fact true, it's a disaster for Mr. Condit, because he can't move on until he answers the questions.

KING: All right. We'll take a break, we'll come back. We'll be including your phone calls. Don't forget, it's time to log on to my "King's Quiz" at cnn.com/larryking. And we'll be right back, reintroduce the panel and go to your calls as well. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back. Let's meet our panel, go to your phone calls. They are: In Washington, Barbara Olson, former federal prosecutor and best-selling author. In New York: Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor and anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV. Here in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, defense attorney. He has represented people like Roger Clinton, and Susan McDougal. And in Las Vegas, Julian Epstein, the former chief minority counsel of the House Judiciary Committee.

We are going to start to include your phone calls. By the way, Marina Ein, one of the key members of the Condit team, said that his primary concern is to express his personal pain with what has occurred and secondarily to correct the record. Let's go to Montreal, hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Hi, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, I would like to ask Barbara, how can anyone believe anything he says tomorrow night when he has been in rehearsal for three months?

OLSON: Well, I mean, rehearsal, we all know that everyone who does something this important is going to have rehearsal. And I think this is something that I truly believe that comes across on television. I think there will be a point where we'll get to see in his eyes, and I hope Connie Chung asks a question that we get to see a reaction that is maybe not a rehearsed reaction, because although he is preparing for the obvious factual questions, I hope she asks him something that goes a little deeper, that maybe goes into who he is, so we get to see a bit of a reaction.

And I will give you a quick example. One of the things that I think would get a reaction would be a question such as "do you ever think that Chandra Levy will be found?" If you think about that, if he answers yes, or no, there is going to be a gut reaction, and so I think one of those kinds of questions will hopefully give us an insight.

KING: Mark Geragos, Don Hewitt today criticized the format saying that the half hour benefits the benefits the interviewee.

GERAGOS: That is surprising coming from a guy who has made his living having three 20 minute segments.

KING: Edited from six hours. I don't know how to respond to that. It sounds to me like sour grapes.

KING: Palm Springs, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. I was just wanting to know if there was not a possibility that Chandra had told Mr. Condit that she did not want her parents to know that she was having an affair with a married man, and so that when Levys called him first time, he did not know she was missing, and he denied the relationship?

KING: Nancy, would that have been a normal reaction that a man would have if the daughter told him please don't -- if his girlfriend said don't tell my parents anything if they call?

GRACE: Well, the only problem I see with that theory, which is a good theory, is that by the time the Levys had called him, she was missing. They were on a 911 alert trying to find their daughter, so at that point, it was a matter of life and death.

And this letter -- back to his letter about him being in so much pain, I wonder how much pain Condit was in when he was out 25 miles from his apartment throwing out evidence into a dumpster. I don't think the man is consumed with pain. OK.

GERAGOS: You know, the caller, I think is asking a different question Nancy. In all fairness, the caller is asking don't you think it is possible that when they are asking this question...

GRACE: Right.

GERAGOS: ... and you know when Larry interviewed the Levys the other night, they contradicted the "Talk" magazine article about these four other affairs with married women, so it is apparent...

KING: Married men.

GERAGOS: ... or married women, so it is apparent that she was not talking with her mother and telling her mother everything. So I don't know that he didn't feel at least initially, and maybe we will hear tomorrow night, that it wasn't appropriate for him to talk to the mother about that.

GERAGOS: ... contradicted the "Talk" magazine article about these four other affairs with married women. So it's...

KING: Married men.

GERAGOS: Or married men. So it's apparent...

GRACE: But they called him because she was missing.

GERAGOS: ... that she was not talking with her mother and telling her mother everything, so I don't know that he didn't feel, at least initially, and maybe we'll hear tomorrow night, that it wasn't appropriate for him to talk to the mother about that. We don't know about that.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right, Julian. Go ahead.

EPSTEIN: Well, the caller makes a very good point. It's a comment that hasn't been made very often. It's an insightful point on his part, and there's a happy medium between what Mark and Nancy are saying. It's conceivable that when that phone call was made to Gary that she really did believe that she was going to turn up, and he really did believe that she didn't want her parents knowing about the affair.

On the other hand, Nancy makes a somewhat valid point, which is that once you begin to think somebody really in fact may be missing, that has to give way to getting all information out right away.

OLSON: And of course that call was on May 5th, so even if he felt that way on May 5th, how about May 10th? How about May 15th? How about today, 115 days later? The Levys still have the same questions, obviously, eating away at them. So at some point, he knows it doesn't matter if Chandra didn't want her parents to know she is having an affair with a married man. It doesn't matter, his career, it's time to give them some peace of mind as well as the police.

EPSTEIN: His parents are the key point, Larry. I mean, you asked Nancy in the last segment if he had nothing to do with her disappearing, doesn't he just simply have to explain to his constituents. I think his first obligation really has to be to the family, in the letter and in the interview. I think he has not done sufficiently in that respect, and I think he has to.

Secondly, I think in the letter he's got to do more -- and in the interviews -- more than just mention Chandra Levy's name. He really has to show some empathy. He has to show some deeper concern over the fact that she's missing. And you know, with respect to letters, Dan Rostenkowski wrote a letter to his constituents in the early '90s when he was having his scandal involving the stamp matter, you know all about that. It didn't work because the letter didn't sufficiently explain the situation, accept responsibility. But Al D'Amato, a year before that in 1991, I think it was, was also involved in some trouble. He wrote a very good letter to his constituents in New York and he was able to survive the crisis. So the test of the letter makes a big difference --

KING: Let me get a break. We'll be back with more. More phone calls as well. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: When your wife makes a statement like if he didn't meet her, she'd have graduated, she'd be here.

BOB LEVY, CHANDRA'S FATHER: I asked.

KING: Quid pro, two plus two equals?

LEVY: Yes, none of this would have gone on.

KING: So you think he was somehow involved?

LEVY: Well, because he was involved with her and she was there and waiting around. And you know...

KING: So somehow involved with her disappearance. Is that your feeling?

LEVY: Well, I do have deep suspicions about that.

KING: You do.

LEVY: Yes.

KING: And you do, too.

SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA'S MOTHER: I do.

B. LEVY: I know about him personally, but you know, everyone needs.

KING: You think he knows more than he said?

B. LEVY: We believe so.

S. LEVY: I believe so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Mark said the truth. The thing we had no understanding of is, how did this girl, on a busy street disappear so quickly, no trace, no one coming forward no information, reward out, no one has an inkling.

GERAGOS: It is amazing. I have never seen anything like this idea more you have more than $200,000, wall to wall coverage in the media, and you don't have a single clue as to what's going on. It is amazing.

KING: It is a puzzlement.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One at a time. Who is -- what lady is going first?

GRACE: I will go. To me, it signifies it is very obvious that this was not an amateur. No amateur could pull this off. We would have found the body by now. There would be a trace. This is someone who knows exactly what they are doing and this was very well planned. Whoever took Chandra, it is very obvious to me.

EPSTEIN: Exactly, exactly, Nancy...

KING: You agree, Julian?

EPSTEIN: Yes, I do. I couldn't agree any more. I think John Walsh is saying the same thing. And let me tell you, I think of the four panelists on the program tonight. I'm the only one that actually lives in that community. I live blocks away from that, and I got to tell you, it is in the same community that Joyce Chiang, another young congressional ex-staffer that I new very well also disappeared and was found dead several months later.

GRACE: Impossible.

EPSTEIN: What's impossible.

GRACE: Because serial murderers always dispose of the body in the same ammo. It is part of their ritual and that is not the case in the Levy disappearance.

EPSTEIN: Nancy, you said impossible before I made a statement. I assume you are not Carnac.

GRACE: Because we have talked about it before.

EPSTEIN: I don't know that you know what I was going say. If I could have the courtesy of just...

KING: You want to finish?

EPSTEIN: Yes, I do. I do want to finish that but I think the essential point is that after three or four months, of a body disappearing, Nancy is actually right about that. I don't think that anyone in this community thinks that lives there, thinks that a six term congressman, who has no criminal background, who has no criminal history whatsoever, has any capacity to actually pull something like that off.

I don't think anybody remotely thinks that. I think that is clearly work of somebody who is very professional, somebody who knows what are they doing, and this, the point is not to say that it is a serial case, Nancy, the point is that this happened before in that same community, just a couple years ago.

GERAGOS: And Joyce Chiang was missing for longer than Chandra has been missing.

KING: Barbara could also say it could have been a hired person, right, who would do it very professionally?

OLSON: Well, I mean this is why we keep talking about this, Larry. I mean, what Mary (sic) Grace says is absolutely right. A serial killer, not only will they dispose of the body in the same way, but usually serial killers leave evidence. There is something about a serial killer that you find after the fact that they actually want to be sought. They want to be known about. They have a sickness that wants notoriety.

And what other people said, this is a congressman, this congressman has no history. The only thing that we can go on is that we know she left without her ID. We know she left with only her keys. We know she had a relationship, that she was very close with the congressman, and he asked her to leave without an ID, without any keys. So we want to know answers.

That is exactly why it is so important that Gary Condit answer the real questions, and not dodge the real questions.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Hold it, Alexandria, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hello, is there any credible evidence that people really care about Gary Condit? Is it possible that this is a media generated event to sell papers, magazines, and air time?

KING: Possible?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Caller, so you mean, care about Gary Condit, or care about the missing girl? CALLER: We are not hearing much about the missing girl. This is Gary Condit, "People" magazine, Gary Condit's wife, the people in Modesto, California.

GERAGOS: The caller makes an excellent point. Obviously, the reason you keep seeing our four ugly mugs up here night after night is that the ratings are at such a level...

GRACE: Speak for yourself!

GERAGOS: I'm letting you jump in there, Nancy -- is that the ratings are such that...

KING: Well there is also public interest.

GERAGOS: Of course there is public interest.

KING: What do you do. not cover it?

GERAGOS: There is an obsession with this that, as we have discussed, is, probably not since some, previous ones but I haven't seen anything like this, in terms of people's obsession with it, this idea that it is a mystery, that people are concerned. They obviously have some empathy for the players involved. So, yes, I think there is immense public interest. EPSTEIN: Let's not kid ourselves about this. I think these questions, as Barbara and Nancy will keep reminding us are legitimate to ask about Mr. Condit because he failed to disclose relationship.

But the lack of a proportionate focus on the other theories I think that the police are pursuing, can only be explained -- and this is the caller's point -- I think, by one thing which is that this story has cache. It has the interface of politics, sex, a missing intern. It is an irresistible story from the media's point of view. I am not attacking the media but that is what is driving this.

In some sense, it is a reflection of the kind of tabloid soap opera culture that increasingly we are living in today.

KING: Hold it! We'll take a break then get a comment from Barbara and Nancy and more phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Green Bay, Wisconsin, for our panel, Hello.

CALLER: Hi, I would like to ask your guests what you think is the single most important question that needs to be answered -- asked and answered -- by Gary Condit, keeping in mind that the focus from the start has been a missing woman, not an affair that she had with Gary Condit.

KING: OK, well each may have a different answer, so let's go around. Barbara, number one important question? OLSON: Well, I get the first question to open up with is the first thing that happened, is Gary, you last were with Chandra on April 24. You don't remember what happened. You last spoke to her on April 28, and then get a call on May 5 that she is missing and you lie to her parents.

When did you realize she was missing? This is a woman you talked to regularly. You spoke to two or three times a day leading up to her disappearance. What did you do when you realized she was missing? And when did you realize she was missing?

KING: Mark?

GERAGOS: I was going to object that that was a compound question by Barbara.

OLSON: Oh, it is definitely a compound question.

GERAGOS: The one question, if the caller is asking, that I would ask and that I think people want to know is what did you tell the police in that first interview when you first talked to them? I think that is going to be the question he's got to answer. What did you tell them, what didn't you tell him?

KING: Well, he would then answer by asking specifically what?

GERAGOS: He is going to have go through and answer exactly what they asked him and did he, in fact, as Barbara and Nancy have suggested, did he lie or did he not?

KING: Nancy, what would be your key question?

GRACE: Since we already know what time he is stating was the last time he was with her and spoke to her, I would go past that and ask, did you break up with her, if so, why? What was the content of your last conversation? Was she pregnant and did she give you any suggestion as to where she was going and why her bags were packed a week before she was supposed to leave?

KING: Julian Epstein.

EPSTEIN: Well, I would ask -- I would follow up with Mark -- I would say why is it that he wasn't candid when asked by the police, and secondly I would want to know exactly what his theory is as to why she is missing, and what information he may have that maybe relevant about that.

KING: All good questions. Providence, Rhode Island, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My question to the a panel is: Why is Condit doing these interviews now as opposed to two months ago, or even six months from now?

KING: Do we know why, Mark, why now? Why August? Why now? Reelection? GERAGOS: I think it is obvious that he is not going to resign. I think it is obvious that he plans on running for reelection, and I think it is equally obvious that the lawyers feel and that there is no exposure. Otherwise, I don't think that the lawyers, given what they have advised him all along, would let him go and do this kind of media blitz.

I don't think that that would happen if the lawyers honestly believed he was still the target.

KING: Barbara, why do you think now?

OLSON: I don't think Gary Condit ever wanted to come out. I think he has done exactly what he wanted to do, which is avoid answering the tough questions. But I think, politically, he was finally convinced that he had to. If he was going to run for reelection, if he was going to start campaigning -- which he has this huge fund-raiser that he's had every year -- he had to come out, he had to do it. It's political, and for no other reason.

KING: Implying, Julian, that if he wasn't going to run again he wouldn't do any interview.

EPSTEIN: Probably not. I think Lin said it best, that if he has any hope of staying in public life, or even saving his reputation, he's being convicted right now in the court of public opinion. Mark is also right. I don't think he'd go out there if his lawyers really believed he had any type of legal jeopardy. It should have been done earlier, there is no question about this. This has not been handled particularly well, from a public relations point of view.

KING: And, Nancy, why do you think now?

GRACE: I think it has nothing to do, really, with what his lawyers are telling him. I don't think tail is wagging the dog. I think he's making the decisions, I agree with Barbara. And I think the reason for now is because it's time to raise money, everybody! If he's going to run, he's got to get some money in the treasure chest. It's time to hit the campaign trail, and he's got to take care of this little matter of Chandra Levy before he can get dollar one.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments, get another call in or two, on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You can now log on to our Web site at cnn.com/larry king for the answer to "King's Quiz."

Now, this is directed to Mr. Geragos and Mr. Epstein. Last night Mark spoke, and I think Julian agreed, but I know Mark spoke about investigators focusing on a suspect, a member of Chandra's health club who allegedly stalked her. For the record, CNN's Bob Franken talked to D.C. Assistant Police Chief Terrence Gainer, who said it's totally false. GERAGOS: You know, it's interesting because we -- I heard that earlier today, I made a call again to the same person who said it. They're just adamant that there is somebody that they've got, that's a suspect that they've got that's a suspect that they're looking at.

KING: Why would Gainer deny it?

GERAGOS: Well, I'm going to take the Barbara approach. The Barbara approach is you can't believe the police when he says he's not a suspect, so when Gary is not...

OLSON: Mark, that's not fair.

GERAGOS: So you can't believe the police at this point.

OLSON: Once again, you have to realize that your source was too convenient in his timing. Suddenly, we're going to have a Gary Condit interview, and my goodness, the week of the interview we hear about a third party stalker. It was too convenient. We have been following this case. After 115 days, it doesn't wash.

EPSTEIN: If we could get a little bit of light in the middle of some of that heat -- I mean, I think that whatever the case is, I think that almost every single reporter that's covering this case closely will tell you that the police are looking at at least three to four different theories that are not connected to Mr. Condit.

OLSON: Of course they're looking at theories!

KING: Why would he vehemently deny it then, Julian?

EPSTEIN: Well, Mark was the one, I believe, that got the source -- that spoke about the one. I had heard that from reporters as well. I don't know whether it's credible or not credible, but I know that there are other avenues that they're looking at that don't lead to Mr. Condit, and the point that Mark and I were making last night...

OLSON: And we know what they are.

EPSTEIN: ... is that we don't focus on that very much.

OLSON: Julian, we know what those theories are because we've gone through them: she was murdered, she is missing, she is the victim of a serial killer. We know what those are. But the idea that this week a theory comes out, of a stalker -- I was curious last night where that was coming from, and why it so conveniently would come out to take off the heat on Gary Condit when he wants to do a political statement. It just doesn't wash after 115 days.

GERAGOS: What Julian is talking about, and I've heard the same thing repeatedly, is that everybody who's covering this case closely says that there are a minimum of three different people that they're looking at, and that they're looking at closely.

KING: Nancy, do you want to get a word in? As I said already, Bob Franken did question the police chief, who denies it -- Nancy? GRACE: Right. Well, I can see the police chief, Terrence Gainer, maybe ducking the question or refusing to comment on the question. But I don't think he would come out and vehemently deny that theory if he was lying, because that would come back to haunt him at trial, I promise you. So I don't believe that.

KING: All right. Well, we're going to do another show tomorrow night in advance of his appearance. The "People" magazine article will be out in L.A. tomorrow. The letter will be out tomorrow.

GERAGOS: The letter will be out -- it may be in somebody's mailbox right now as we speak.

KING: So there will be news throughout the day tomorrow, won't there?

GERAGOS: Absolutely. I mean that "People" magazine article I think, as Julian mentioned before, that's a big deal, because you've got a -- especially because of what's suggested on the cover.

KING: And Connie Chung, will she not, Nancy, have to follow up on that "People" article?

GRACE: Absolutely.

KING: Because they got the first one.

GRACE: Yes. She may be forced to waste some of her very precious 30 minutes on asking questions about that interview. But you know what's bugging me about this interview tomorrow night, is that he has tricked his wife for 20-plus years. I'm not getting sucked in by Condit. He's not going to trick me tomorrow night. This whole thing is rehearsed, it's timed. He's blow-dried, he's sprayed. He's even picked out what color tailor-made shirt he's going to wear. I'm not buying it. It's a PR job.

GERAGOS: Nothing like going in with an open mind.

KING: Barbara, quickly.

OLSON: I was just going to say that the "People" magazine article, if what the cover says is true, it may boomerang. If he is actually ducking the real questions and trying to give a PR spin to this whole thing, it may be the start of a boomerang on a very bad PR decision.

KING: Thanks all very much. Thank Lin Wood for being with us. We thank Barbara Olson, Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos and Julian Epstein. We'll be back with more tomorrow night, and follow us at CNN around the clock tomorrow, because that letter is going to come out and the "People" magazine article is going to come out before the Connie Chung interview on ABC.

Stay tuned now for "CNN TONIGHT," that's next. I'm Larry King. For all guests, good night.

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