CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Abbe Lowell, Panel Discuss Condit's Interviews
Aired August 24, 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 finally talking. What's he said? How has he said it? Has he helped or hurt his cause? Joining us in Los Angeles, Gary Condit's attorney Abbe Lowell.
Then later, ready to debate, former federal prosecutor and best- selling author Barbara Olson. She's in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. In New York, former prosecutor, now Court TV anchor Nancy Grace. In Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos. And in Washington, former Chief Minority Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Julian Epstein. Plus the very special perspective of best-selling author Dominick Dunne. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin the program with Abbe Lowell, the attorney for Gary Condit. Reaction to all that's gone today, all that you've heard.
ABBE LOWELL, GARY CONDIT'S ATTORNEY: I'm amazed about a couple of things. I'm amazed that still in America we have this instant analysis. Everybody does the overnight: "What do you think? What was it supposed to be, good or bad?" You know what? Congressman Condit did not do this for the instantaneous polls. He did it as part of process to start talking to constituents, and it is wrong for people to sort of do this like it was a movie, thumbs-up, thumbs-down.
KING: This just the beginning.
LOWELL: I think it's the beginning of the communication effort and I think, you know, it's a process. And I think it -- you can't, overnight, change perceptions that people got built up over three months. I think it takes more than a day.
KING: But also in life, Abbe, as you well know, there are first impressions. Did he make a poor first impression?
LOWELL: Well, I mean, to whom? I mean...
KING: First of all, to the public at large.
LOWELL: The public at large -- I mean, I guess that's where we get these instantaneous polls, Larry. Let me say if I can do it this way. People in his district know who Gary Condit is. People over America have not. He has been cast in a certain way by his silence because he thought the right thing to do was to work with the police and not come on your show. So it is a process, of sort of filling in the margins that people did. But if you know Congressman Condit, this is what you know about him. He is not a sappy guy, he doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve. People interpret that sometimes in America as somebody doesn't feel or doesn't care and doesn't hurt. That is wrong.
I mean, I've known him for a long time and I know those things are wrong. I also think it's wrong that people have to sort of judge him based on his performance when you are in a milieu of an anchor asking you questions. People ought to give him a chance to express himself, and it won't be just one time. When they read the interview in "People," or in "Newsweek" or the local newspaper, or see what he said to his local anchor in addition to what he said to Connie Chung, then they can start getting an idea of who this man really is.
KING: How and why was Connie Chung chosen and the format picked?
LOWELL: Well, I mean look, you and Connie Chung and many others are certainly of a group that Congressman Condit and the advisers were thinking would be somebody who could do it. The criteria was not very difficult. The criteria was who is deemed to be credible, who is serious, who will -- some people say didn't go too soft on him, don't go too hard on him, and who has some experience in doing that and who reaches an audience that should be spoken to. And so you narrow it down; but then it is not a science, it's an art. And that is how it was done.
KING: What did you think of the job she did?
LOWELL: Well, I think she did a good job. But I'm disappointed in a couple of things. I'm disappointed that she decided in a 30- minute interview to spend I guess about 10 minutes, over and over again, asking, "Why won't you tell us the s-word? Why won't you just say it on my show? I want to be the first person to get you out loud to say it the way I want you to say it." I don't think she asked that question once. I think she asked it 10 times.
And what I don't like about that is not that she sort of badgered him, he is a big boy, he's a Congressman, he can do that. But it wasted so much time where he could have talked about Levys and he could have talked how he felt about Chandra, what kind of person she was. And that never came out because all she wanted to do was sort of talk about what's the relationship.
The second thing is -- and this was what was surprising to me -- I thought she might do the first. I never thought that she would cut him off so often in his attempts to give answers. And that's what was frustrating to him. He -- she said, "The police chief says... what is your response? And he wanted to give his response. "OK, let me tell you how I have cooperated. I've done four interviews, a three-hour search, I had to be hiding in a parking lot to give up a DNA sample. I flew my wife across the country so that she could give an interview the day after, I want to tell you that." And she didn't give him enough time to answer.
KING: Was he unhappy with it?
LOWELL: No, I guess he is unhappy with all of this in the sense that it's very...
KING: He doesn't like this.
LOWELL: No, this is not who he is.
KING: I mean, he doesn't like media anyway, right?
LOWELL: Not exactly right. That is unfair.
KING: We haven't seen him much.
LOWELL: Congressman Condit is almost the essential definition of a member of the House of Representatives. He was what I think the Founders had in mind. He was a man without national aspirations, he doesn't like the limelight. He's the workhorse, not the show horse. He represents the interests of his constituents very well. He never wanted to be across from you in the spotlights. He wants to be on the floor doing his work.
KING: Since it is generally assumed that it was romantic -- she said it was romantic, the police have leaked it was romantic. What would have been wrong if he had said, "It was romantic. I made mistake." And then gone on to the things he wanted to cover like what she was like, where she liked, what food she liked to eat, was she the kind of person who would run out of her house quickly. You know, things that could help us understand her better. So why not admit it at this point?
LOWELL: First of all, I mean, when Congressman Condit looks you in the eye and you ask him what was the nature of your relationship and he says, "You know, I'm not a perfect man, I have made my share of mistakes." And he's told you that they became very close. You know what? I think Americans get it. I do.
KING: Why not just say it?
LOWELL: Why is it that you all -- and I'm not meaning to lump all of you -- but why is it that media thinks if you don't do it my way, with my words, the way I would do it, my name being Connie Chung, my name being Larry King, then it doesn't work? I think people in his district are smarter. Over time they will get it.
And the fact is, I think he tried to tell you that there is a difference between him telling all the details to the police, and all the details to Larry King or Connie Chung. And what is a misnomer, misinformation, just a wrong impression, is that he didn't tell the police.
Now, I know that there is this word of -- this word of war -- war of words. I mean, the police chief says it one way and then the assistant chief says it another way. But the reality is, Larry, and I'm telling you the reality is, because I was there, Congressman Condit provided the information the police needed from three days after the Chandra Levy case first became known, throughout all of those subsequent weeks. And the fact that he had four interviews, as the deputy chief said, doesn't mean that any of the interviews were unsuccessful.
KING: But Abbe, if perception is reality -- OK, he wants to say it his way. Couldn't he have just made that extra step and get beyond it, because what the public is saying today in polls is he looked like, "Hey, who you kidding? We had a relationship, I don't want to discuss it because the parents would be bothered."
LOWELL: I can say it the following way, and maybe this will help people understand it. I don't think Congressman Condit, nor I, nor a bunch of people, believe that LARRY KING LIVE or "PrimeTime" is a church, and Larry King or Connie Chung or any other anchor is the priest, and this is the place for a confessional.
What he has to say and the intimate details of his relationship with anybody is really a matter for him and his family, and him and people that console him. And I think his job is to say look, let me tell you what she was, or anybody was. Let me hold on, please, to a drop of my personal privacy. I've got a family, I've got a wife and kids, and let me explain to you that the police got it. They got it from interview number one and we moved on from there.
KING: In other words we could have learned a lot about Chandra last night we didn't learn.
LOWELL: I think you could have, a little bit. I think you know -- one of the things that is unfortunate, Larry, that it is the media in part and the way this turned out, has turned it into the Condits versus the Levys. That is one of the most painful things to the Condits, because -- think about it.
Think about it practically. After the Levys, who has the best interest to want to see Chandra Levy OK? It would be Congressman Condit. First of all, if there is anybody out there after all he has done with the police who still have any remote idea he could have been involved in any way, that would obviously dispel that. Second of all, she could tell the truth. She could defend herself. She could say what she said to him and what she didn't say to him, as opposed to the hearsay of her aunt or other people. And I think he would like that, too. You could have learned some of that last night.
KING: We'll be right back with Abbe Lowell. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GARY CONDIT (D), CALIFORNIA: I have been married 34 years. I have not been a perfect man. I have made mistakes in my life. But out of respect for my family, out of re-- specific request by Levy family, it's best that I not get into details of the relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONNIE CHUNG, ABC NEWS: Do you have any idea if there was anyone who wanted to harm her?
CHUNG: Did you cause anyone to harm her?
CHUNG: Did you kill Chandra Levy?
CONDIT: I did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did -- do you -- do you think that he should have been more compassionate? You mentioned that he is a to-himself guy, but do you think it would have helped him to be a little more loose?
LOWELL: Well, I think that if he had the opportunity, he could have shown that that is what he was. I mean, part of it was really the way that Connie Chung decided to do it. I mean, they started -- bang questioning, did you murder her. I mean, I think it was sort of the way it started, and I don't think she gave him the opportunity to be himself.
And today, all we are hearing about is sort how he did, and I think the format ended up less than it should have been. And you know what, Larry? Maybe he should have been here doing it with you, and you would have given him that chance.
KING: Is he a compassionate man?
LOWELL: He is. In a way, he is compassionate. He is not sappy, he doesn't emote the way somebody...
KING: But he cares?
LOWELL: Talk to his children about whether he cares, talk to his wife about it, talk about his constituents. I mean, they will tell you, he walks down the street -- you know, other than what's happening now with 3,000 reporters following him and yelling at him -- people come up to him, put his arm around him, say, "Gary, how are you?" Not "congressman," but "Gary." He is a very caring guy.
I mean, but he is caring in his way, and I think one of the things that today people are not giving him enough credit for is they are judging the way he is by the way they think he -- they would be, or the way they would like him to be, and they are not letting Gary be Gary.
LOWELL: Well, you have to know Gary a bit, you need to know Congressman Condit a bit. But should he have been? Yes -- should have, could have, would have? I mean, maybe if he -- maybe he should have started by saying, look, I'm not -- I'm going to tell you I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry 100 times, and now can we really talk about what's important.
KING: Was he wrong, and you may have been guilty of this too, in attacking the Levys?
LOWELL: Well, let's talk about whether anybody attacked the Levys, OK?
KING: The perception is, you have.
LOWELL: Well, I hope that that's not the case, but let's clear it up. I think this is a good opportunity to do this, let's first talk about the congressman and then secondly talk about me.
Congressman understands well that the Levys have pain and suffering the way nobody who has a kid would ever want to try to dream. He gets that, he has got kids. And he gives them wide berth to do and say whatever they want, because he said -- he said in the interview, "I would do and say anything."
What he says is it becomes unfair when they imply that he had something do with the disappearance or that he has not been as helpful as he can. It is unfair because the record is, he cared about their daughter, he knew and befriended and became very close to their daughter. He had no motive to hurt their daughter. And that is when it becomes unfair.
And in terms of him or me attacking, I don't think so. What I think is happening is if when I say I understand why it's a good tactic of the Levys to keep Congressman Condit on the front page because it keeps Chandra on the front page, that's not an attack. I understand that. It makes sense. If I were doing it, I would do the exact same thing.
KING: And Gary Condit would do it if his child were missing. He would be keeping whoever he was -- on the front page.
LOWELL: He would do the exact same thing. But that doesn't mean that if somebody says something that's wrong, you don't try to correct it. And if it -- and it means that if somebody goes out and makes an unfair charge, you don't say, hey, that's unfair.
You know, here's what I don't understand. You just say, Congressman Condit is such an uncaring guy, so when he says you have hurt my feelings, Mr. and -- Dr. and Mrs. Levy, when you have made the charge that I had something do with your daughter, why then he gets criticized for attacking the Levys? That's not an attack, that's just saying, hey, look, lighten up on me. The police chief has said I'm not the central figure, I'm not a suspect, I didn't do this. I'm working with you to try to find out who did.
KING: Perception and reality. When Mrs. Levy says, "I asked him if he was having an affair with my daughter, and he said no," and he says last night she didn't ask that. The public believes her.
LOWELL: And that is -- that's right. And you know what? No matter what happens, the Levys will always be believed and Congressman Condit will always be disbelieved, because the sympathies in this situation are going to go in that direction.
KING: Do you believe she has it wrong?
LOWELL: I think -- I wasn't there. And I have heard from Congressman Condit about that conversation, so let me try to fill in some of the blanks -- and if Mrs. Levy is listening, this may also refresh her memory.
She did call the night after her husband first called Congressman Condit. She did say to the congressman, "I'm looking for my daughter, what can you tell me?" She did do all that. She didn't single out Congressman Condit, and that is something that Congressman Condit has been trying to protect the Levys' conversation from. He hasn't told...
KING: What did she say?
LOWELL: Mrs. Levy asked Congressman Condit whether or not he knew whether her daughter was involved with a variety of different people. I don't mean by variety dozens, I mean a couple. She mentioned three or four different names, according to the congressman.
KING: She gave him the names of people she thought her daughter was involved with?
LOWELL: Yes, yes, oh yes.
KING: And did not ask him if he was involved?
LOWELL: No, no. I mean, again, we are playing a little game here, I...
KING: But she did mention...
LOWELL: Look, Congressman Condit has said two things: She never said to me, as she is now saying, are you, Gary Condit, having an affair with my daughter.
KING: He swears she never said that.
LOWELL: He doesn't remember saying it that way. I mean, swear...
KING: And secondly?
LOWELL: You know, people in the emotions of a missing kid could get it wrong, he could have got it as wrong as she. And second of all, you know, she was asking more about this than just him. And third of all, when he says I would never lie to Mrs. Levy under a situation like that, I believe him.
I mean, you wouldn't do that to a mother under those circumstances, no matter how embarrassed you were, no matter how -- I mean, on the other hand, imagine if he were involved with a daughter of a missing woman and she called you on the phone and you never met her before, and she stark asks something -- I think you might try to say it a different way.
KING: If that had come out last night the way you just explained it, the logical follow-up would have been, who else did she ask about and did you know if she was having a relationship with any of people she asked about?
LOWELL: Congressman Condit did say last night that she talked about a number of different things and a number of different people and...
KING: He didn't say -- he didn't say that she asked him...
LOWELL: ... of others, and here is what he said: "The Levys and Chandra especially is not here to talk for herself." She -- he is going to protect their privacy. I think it's not important what the other names, and I think more importantly Congressman Condit has gotten this much, he is not going to have it happen to anybody else that he knows what's happened to him in terms of privacy being invaded.
KING: Did the police get those other names?
KING: We'll be right back with Abbe Lowell on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDIT: I never lied to Mrs. Levy. I'm sorry if she misunderstood the conversations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: Why would you want her to say that she didn't have a relationship with you?
CONDIT: Because she didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right. That concerned Anne Marie Smith who appeared on this program for an hour, who everybody seems to think had a relationship with your client, and that was a flat denial of having a relationship. What do you make of that?
LOWELL: Well, I know it came out like a flat denial, and I think one of the things I can do is clear it up. Look, the exchange was going hot and heavy at that point and she was asking about the affidavit and she was asking about lawyers, and then, did you have a relationship? And I think the "no" came out and the "no" may not have applied to what it looks like it applied to. So let me clear up tonight.
LOWELL: All right. I have two things to say that I think are accurate. The first is that Congressman Condit and all the people around him are befuddled about why folks like Anne Marie Smith and others are using the tragedy of Chandra Levy to get publicity in some cases, some people out there are doing...
KING: But he came out at her, that roommate got money from a tabloid, she had no -- didn't make money.
LOWELL: I didn't say money, I said to get publicity. And I know that she was outed by somebody, OK? I didn't see her roommates grabbing her and putting her on this chair to talk to you for an hour. Did she do that on her own, was she forced to do it, was somebody twisting her arm? That's somebody who has obviously decided to get some publicity out of this for whatever reason, and the Condits are befuddled why somebody would use that.
KING: Well, because she was wrapped in the paper, she thought she had to come forward. She is having an affair with a married man that appears in a tabloid. I'd guess she would wants to respond.
LOWELL: Well, I read the things that she and her lawyer have said about her life and her private life and the details, gee, I thought she wanted to keep some of that stuff to herself. But having said that, I understand -- so let me clarify, that is the second thing.
Now, I don't want to play so many word games with anybody but look, words do count when you are trying to communicate. Now, Anne Marie Smith may have considered whatever her dealings with Congressman Condit to be quote "a relationship," and what Congressman Condit was trying to say was, whatever their dealings were, whatever they shared, whatever they were to each other, it wasn't a relationship.
Now, what if it was? Is that what you want to ask me? What was it?
KING: That depends on what "is" is.
LOWELL: Well, I don't think that is so fair. I don't think what "is" is means the same -- what is a relationship to you? Does a relationship have 360 degrees? Do you talk to the person all the time? Do you send them gifts? Do you go out to dinner together? Do you sort of exchange pleasantries?
KING: If a man and a woman have a relationship it certainly implies romantic, absolutely.
LOWELL: Let me ask you this, and I'm talking now just, you know, theoretically. If you are involved with somebody in one particular way is it a relationship? I guess what I'm saying to you is, I don't know how Anne Marie Smith...
KING: You can have a relationship with a co-worker, that is if the relationship is at work.
LOWELL: No, that's not what I mean. I think, as I understand Anne Marie Smith's definition of a relationship, and this is sort of a silly exercise, but I do want to try to clear it up, it probably means something to her, so when she uses the word "relationship" it means something.
When Congressman Condit says I have relationship, it probably doesn't mean what Anne Marie Smith thinks.
KING: It is just a sexual dalliance to him?
LOWELL: I'm not going to tell you what it was because...
KING: How does he define "relationship."
LOWELL: I think he defines it much differently than Anne Marie Smith does...
KING: Why didn't he clarify it instead of just saying no, here is what it was?
LOWELL: I think Connie Chung didn't give him that chance either. Look, it was 30 minutes, and if I had to say that there was a mistake, it was a mistake confining that to a 30-minute interview.
KING: That was your request, right?
LOWELL: It was our request and I think in retrospect, I made a mistake.
KING: We will be back with some more moments with Abbe Lowell and we will get the comments of others including Dominick Dunne. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: Do you think you are a moral man?
CONDIT: I think I am a moral man, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY MARTIN, LEVY FAMILY ATTORNEY: I can tell you now, on public TV, that the Levy family has no objection to Gary Condit answering any questions about the relationship. Those are not questions that they would ask. But it is perfectly clear, I asked the Levys tonight, do you mind hearing the information, and they have no objection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Critics were saying, Abbe, that what the congressman did last night was take that one little remark by Billy Martin and blow it into a complete explanation of why he wouldn't talk about sex.
LOWELL: I heard that. In fact, I think Ted Koppel on "Nightline" sort of suggested that to me when he also suggested to Billy Martin that, what do the words mean. I have the words, Larry, and it was spoken on CNN. And you know, look, first of all Congressman Condit was not going to go into the details of his relationship with Chandra...
KING: No matter what Billy Martin said?
LOWELL: No matter what Billy Martin said. And he said for two reasons. One was because he was being respectful to his own family. People seem to have forgotten that in this mix. The second reason is because Billy Martin, three nights before said, they the Levys don't really want to hear anything about the relationship. Notice the word "anything."
They don't want to know how he felt about Chandra, notice the word "felt." They don't want to know how Chandra felt about him. We heard that. And when the congressman was thinking about what does do, he honestly read that the way the words say. It says please don't talk about that.
KING: But he wouldn't have anyway?
LOWELL: He would have not gotten involved with his family because of his family. But I want to you know, that when people say that, that is how are they read. Now Billy Martin changed the rules last night and the Levys have changed to say please go out and tell us what the nature of your relationship was.
The congressman said he would talk to the Levys about this, but I don't think he really thinks that he should come here and say it on your show.
KING: Why hasn't he hasn't he talked to Levys every day?
LOWELL: First of all, they don't want to talk to him every day.
KING: Why didn't he start with every day. He was her friend.
LOWELL: He talked to them the night of their disappearance call, the day after. He called them the week he got back to Washington about his calling the FBI, his, sort of, trying to get the police involved. He was involved in the reward. A week went by, and I think he also tried to contact Mrs. Levy again.
At some point she said when, later on, this was a couple weeks later, that she was no longer comfortable talking to him without her lawyer. So hired a lawyer. The day she hired a lawyer, Congressman Condit asked me to reach out and arrange a meeting with Mrs. Levy. That did occur.
KING: That took place, the Jefferson Hotel.
LOWELL: Yes, it took place. And he has said -- I don't think there is any reason he wouldn't -- I don't know how helpful it is, but look, if the Levys want to meet with Congressman Condit, I have said that, he has said that. He would do so. And he would do it in a minute.
KING: How about with her investigators?
LOWELL: Here is what he said last night, I can't say it better. Weeks ago, almost a month and a half ago, I wrote Billy Martin and I said if you want the information that Congressman Condit gave the police, call me, I will tell you.
Billy says, I don't want it from a lawyer. Well, that is not right. He should get the information from me, some of it are easy stuff. He could then narrow down what he needs to get from Congressman Condit. And Congressman Condit last night said, and after he gets the information if there is anything else to follow up, we are open to that.
But when somebody says, we need our investigators look in his eyes, let me remind you, that right now, seven, eight, nine, 10 police officers, three prosecutors, and two of the best FBI profilers looked in Congressman Condit's eyes for three hours. They have asked hundreds of questions. If they say he is not suspect, and if they have moved on, and if they say he is not the central figure, he can look in anybody's eyes and answer those questions.
KING: Couple of quick things. Abbe, is he going to run again?
LOWELL: I think that is something he wants to discuss with his family.
KING: Has he decided yet?
LOWELL: He has not decided. He has not decided. It is 14 months. I think everybody is counting him out. Everybody is saying don't run, you have given it up. Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't. I don't think we need instantaneous polling here. He has been a public servant for 30 years, a congressman for 12. His constituents should give him a little bit more than a couple of weeks to decide.
KING: What's a lawyer's duty, this is not meant specifically with Condit, if he gives his client a lie detector test and he fails?
LOWELL: Oh, what is it? I think it is to take the results and keep it to yourself.
KING: You don't reveal it. LOWELL: The lie detector is one of the other pieces of misinformation. If I have to say something that I fess up to, I think the only thing that I could have done better was to give the police a longer period of heads up about it. But the demands to do it, do it, do it, were so great, I felt like we had to get it out there.
But here is what is wrong. There is no such thing as two different kinds of polygraphs. A guy like Gary Culvert, who teaches the FBI, involved in all the espionage cases, takes Gary Condit in a room and puts it on him and gets it done and he says he passed with flying colors, he passed with flying colors.
KING: But we don't know what questions were asked.
LOWELL: You do you know what questions he's asked. You don't put somebody on a polygraph for an hour and say, what did you eat for breakfast, and what favorite movie do you have. You get down to the four questions that matter and you get there first.
KING: Just yes or no answers, right?
LOWELL: Absolutely yes or no questions. Do you know where she is? Did you have anything to do with the disappearance? Anything like that. Those are the key questions that were asked. Barry Culvert who really is one of the best in the business and everybody will tell you that, said that not only did Congressman Condit pass, he passed with a score that was one of the least possible deceptions that you could you possibly have.
And now we are playing games with the police -- well, it wasn't our test, we didn't ask the questions. OK, but I'll tell you this, Larry, the two FBI agents who are assigned to this case know Barry Culvert. They met with him an hour and a half. They met with our polygraph expert for an hour and half. They know how to read that exam. They know the congressman passed.
People know where the congressman was on April 30 and May 1. They know he cared about Chandra. There shouldn't be a suspicion left in anybody's mind that he had anything to do with this.
KING: Thanks, Abbe.
LOWELL: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Abbe Lowell, the attorney for Gary Condit. When we come back, our panel and Dominick Dunne, the author of "Justice" a major best-seller. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: Was Chandra Levy in love with you? Were you in love with her?
CONDIT: Well, I don't know that she was in love with me, she never said so and I was not in love with her.
CHUNG: Did she want to marry you and have your child?
CONDIT: I only knew Chandra Levy for five months. And in that five months period we never had a discussion about a future, about children, about marriage. Any of those items never came up in that five month period.
CHUNG: Did you ever make promises to her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: After watching last night, I must tell you I was disappointed by his statement. I think not being candid and straightforward was disturbing and wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Let's meet our panel. In Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, is Barbara Olson, the former federal prosecutor. In New York there's Nancy Grace, herself a former prosecutor, currently with "Court TV." Here in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, a defense attorney, quite renowned. And in Washington, as well, another fine member of the bar, Julian Epstein, former chief minority counsel for House Judiciary.
In Hadlyme, Connecticut is Dominick Dunne, the best-selling author. His newest is "Justice: Crimes, Trials and Punishment," a major bestseller. He guested with us for an hour to discuss that book. We'll talk with Dominick in just a moment, but I want to get the thoughts on what Abbe just had to say and of last night, in concise fashion.
Barbara Olson, what do you make of it?
BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Abbe Lowell, once again like last night, took my breath away when he started talking about Anne Marie Smith, and trying to take back that Gary Condit didn't deny a relationship. I think in the middle of talking to you, he realized that that wasn't going to fly, so then we started defining "relationship" -- that maybe Anne Marie Smith thought it was a relationship, but Gary Condit didn't. It's just beyond believability. It sort of encapsulated what all of last night was.
Abbe Lowell, God bless him, is trying to make sense out of someone who lied many times to us. And Abbe Lowell couldn't do it. He tried his best, and with Anne Marie Smith's statement, he showed that there is just no way to justify what happened last night.
KING: But in fairness, Mark, it does not make him a killer.
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. That's precisely the point, and that's precisely, I think, what Abbe just conveyed so articulately. The fact of the matter is -- and Abbe was very candid, I thought he was outstanding here in this format -- that he conceded maybe there was a mistake made in what they did last night. He conceded it was not the best result that they were hoping for. But at the same time, none of that would lead anybody to believe or should lead anybody to believe that this guy had anything to do with Chandra Levy's disappearance. Ultimately, that's what the question is here.
KING: Nancy Grace, your read.
NANCY GRACE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Larry, all along I've had such respect for Abbe Lowell as an attorney. He's done a great job for clients in the past, but tonight, I have to tell you, I'm disgusted by his attempt and his client's attempt to smear the reputations of Chandra Levy and Anne Marie Smith at this point, suggesting they each had lines of lovers outside their door. You know, when you live in a glass house with walls this thin, you shouldn't be throwing stones, and Condit's in no position to attack their mode of life.
You know, this brings to point last night, no wonder the police had to interview the man four times to get anything out of him. Even Connie Chung couldn't get anything out of him.
KING: Julian Epstein, what's your read on last night and Abbe Lowell here just a while ago?
JULIAN EPSTEIN, FORMER HOUSE JUDICIARY COUNSEL: Well, I think that was an unfair attack on Abbe by Nancy, I don't think Abbe was implying that. I think Abbe was simply repeating a conversation that Chandra Levy's mother had with Gary Condit.
GRACE: And Anne Marie Smith.
EPSTEIN: I think the difference that you saw between the interview that Abbe Lowell just gave you on the show -- I think that was an extraordinary performance on his part -- and the interview last night tells us a very important thing, which is, and I think Barbara pointed this out the other night: Gary Condit is marching to the beat of his own drummer. I don't think he is sufficiently listening to the counsel of Abbe Lowell,
Last night's performance -- last night's performance by Gary Condit, I think, was singularly the worst performance I have ever seen in American politics. Worst in a moral level, and the worst performance on a tactical level. He failed...
EPSTEIN: If I could finish the point without being interrupted. He failed on three different levels. Remember what we said, the acid test, the sina qua non of what he had to do was he had to accept responsibility and acknowledge the mistakes, he had to express sympathy for family and he had to, most importantly, give a detailed explanation of things like watch boxes and all these other matters. I think he failed on all those things. He's painted himself into a corner. I think his political viability is hanging by a string right now, and he has to come back out on TV. I think he should come on this program for an hour, and we've got to have a no-holds barred discussion, because right now he's in a bad spot.
GRACE: I've got a question, Larry.
KING: Answer quickly, and I've got to get a break and talk with Dominick. Go ahead, Nancy.
GRACE: Why does it have to be, Larry, why does it have to be a performance? What's wrong with just telling the truth? He didn't fail performance-wise. He lied. That's a very important distinction.
KING: Hold it, guys. I'm going to get a break, we're going to come back. We'll talk with Dominick Dunne for a while, who's been around these wars a long time, and then the last Dominick to stay and be a part of it as well. Right back with Dominick Dunne, then our panel. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDIT: What's a little bit unfair, I think, is when Dr. and Mrs. Levy make allegations that I might have had something do with the disappearance. But when they say I'm withholding information that might be helpful, I think that's unfair. It's not correct. And when they say they're suspicious, I don't know why they'd be suspicious of me. I like Chandra. She was my friend. I was very fond of her. Next to them and the family members, I'm the next guy in line that would like to see her back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDIT: My heart goes out to the Levys. I don't think I could describe what they're feeling or what they're going through. I mean, the pain and anguish that they're going through. I don't think anyone would know that, unless you had a missing child. So it's real difficult for me to know exactly what they're feeling. But I have kids, and if one of them was missing, I would say and do everything I could do to try to get them back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now from Hadlyme, Connecticut is Dominick Dunne. His newest book is "Justice: Crimes, Trials and Punishment." He, of course, is a regular contributor to "Vanity Fair" and has authored many hit books, and he knows his way around courtrooms and crime and the like.
All right, what's your overall reaction, Dominick, to all of this? Last night, tonight, whatever. DOMINICK DUNNE, AUTHOR, "JUSTICE": Well, you know, Larry, I look on this as a writer. I don't look on it as a lawyer would, or certainly not as Abbe did. I thought, as a performance last night -- and it was a performance -- I thought it was one of the great flop performances I have ever seen in my life. The guy looked -- he just looks dishonest to me. He looks like he lies to me.
And he brought up three times that he was married 34 years. He brought up three times on Connie's show, and two or three times today on the local girl who did it, I mean, like, you know, as if they're Harry and Bess Truman. I mean, this is a joke, a mockery of a marriage, and it is -- he has betrayed his wife over and over again. She lives in humiliation. I mean, no wonder she's sick all the time.
KING: What about his attitude toward the Levys? Abbe explained tonight that he didn't really get a chance to express that. Now, you're a parent who has known pain. Your daughter was murdered.
DUNNE: Yeah, yeah. I mean, listen, Abbe did a wonderful job tonight for his client, and congratulations, Abbe, but I still don't buy it. I still don't buy it. I hated the way he spoke about the Levys, and I didn't believe the thing that the Levys didn't want him to talk about that. That is something that he picked up from Wolf Blitzer's interview with Abbe.
KING: With -- with -- no, with Billy Martin.
DUNNE: With Bill -- I beg your pardon, I'm sorry, with Billy Martin, yeah.
KING: Dominick, though, you are not going this a step further and saying he was involved in her disappearance? I mean, you can't presume that.
DUNNE: Well, I mean, I don't think it is, you know, out of the question. I mean, I don't think it is. I mean, we are all just saying this, but I mean, you know, if I heard that he was, I would not be shocked.
There is just something -- there is something missing in this guy every time, you know, just from the beginning, I couldn't stand all the smiling going into the -- into the Congress every day, I couldn't -- you know, I just think -- when he was caught throwing away the watch box, you know, he just didn't toss it, he drove to Virginia, the guy eyeballs him in the car, and he buries the thing down when he's in up to his shoulder.
I mean, there is just something sneaky about this guy! And you know, I still think -- I still think that we cannot overlook the thing about motorcycles in this story. He is a big motorcyclist, and he rides with the Hell's Angels, and I think that that is how she disappeared, on the back of a motorcycle.
KING: As a writer, though, and before Mark gets a chance to faint.
DUNNE: I know he is going to faint. Sorry, Mark.
KING: As a writer, Dominick, do you approach this fairly, do you say I'm open, or do you...
DUNNE: Yeah, yeah, I do. Yes, I do.
KING: You approached last night totally open. You were ready to be convinced?
DUNNE: Absolutely. And I wasn't convinced for a minute! I wasn't convinced. He was so rehearsed.
KING: Mark, do you object to the motorcycle -- one of the theories is that the only time you run down and leave stuff like that is if you are going to ride on a motorcycle where you can't hold a handbag
GERAGOS: And I have also heard a competing theory that apparently the only reason she would leave is because it was somebody she knows. So, are we suggesting that she knew some Hell's Angel and he called up from the motorcycle and said, "come on down, I have got the Harley-Davidson running and get on the back and let's leave without ID?" I mean, you know...
DUNNE: Not out of the question.
GERAGOS: Well, Dominick...
DUNNE: Not out of the question. Sorry.
GERAGOS: There is no evidence of it, Dominick.
GERAGOS: There is nothing whatsoever that suggests it. I understand that as a writer you've got a very fertile mind and you are entitled to that, and that's what makes you such a great writer. But at the same time, it is, I think, unfair to make the leap from that the guy is -- is apparently committing adultery, and go from that to the fact that he is also a killer.
DUNNE: I didn't say he was a killer, I said it was not out of the question.
GERAGOS: You said maybe he hired a hitman.
KING: Are Dominick's views -- are Dominick's views, Barbara, aided by the performance last night of the congressman?
OLSON: Well, I think clearly so. I mean, I watched that, and I go back and forth, as Dominick did, with -- is this guy just a liar or is he lying because he is covering up something having to do with Chandra or covering up something having to do with other relationships?
And I have got to say, last night's performance -- you watched that, and you said, now what is the likelihood that Mrs. Levy would remember if she asked him that? Probably pretty likely. Gary Condit says it didn't happen, but yet he wouldn't admit last night to the relationship that we all know occurred. He lied about Joleen McKay and Anna Marie Smith, unless they are all lying.
He said everyone else was lying but him, and our common sense says, well, when someone says the world is lying, usually they are the ones lying. And like the police, I have to say, when they looked at Gary Condit in those first few days and Gary Condit refused to answer the question about the relationship, I think we now know because last night Abbe Lowell said that what happened in that first interview was Gary Condit said, "how is it relevant?"
Well, it was relevant because Linda Zamsky, Chandra's aunt, had told the police there is a relationship. So, the police are looking at Gary Condit in those first few days to say, is going to tell us the truth or lie? And he lied, so that keeps him under the microscope. It's his own fault.
KING: Yes, Julian.
EPSTEIN: I mean, I -- I don't object to putting theories out there that have some bases in fact, and we can have some speculation about it and some discussion about it. I do really object to what Dominick just said about this notion about the motorcycle, because I do think it's irresponsible to speculate about theories that you just pull out of the air, and you have no basis to say. And I think it's irresponsible to do that on TV.
And that's the point. The point here is that like the sharks off the coast in the waters in Florida that are indiscriminately attacking people, a lot of people have been indiscriminately attacking Gary Condit, and he had a chance to put the tourniquet on his wound yesterday, and rather than doing that he put more blood into the water.
And so, you are going to see more of these irresponsible attacks I think coming at him, even if it turns out ultimately that this is a big sideshow when it comes down to, as President Bush said today, he seemed to be saying this is all a big sideshow. The real question is, where is Chandra?
KING: Nancy, how about Abbe's, though, explanation, which did not come out last night, that Mrs. Levy asked him about a number of people -- not a great number, but a number of people she was involved with, and that he was trying to spare her that?
GRACE: Larry, you know, I built my whole career on being a victims rights advocate, and I'm deeply concerned. I'm actually hurt, although I'm not related to the Levys in any way, that he would choose to put out there on national TV tonight, in order to defend Condit, he would put Chandra and Anne Marie Smith's reputation on the chopping block, in a way to defuse the fact, the fingers pointing toward Condit. EPSTEIN: Wait a second, Nancy, wait a second. He didn't do that.
GRACE: I would agree with Dominick Dunne -- I agree with Dominick in the sense that nothing is out of the question.
EPSTEIN: Come on, Nancy.
GRACE: And last night, when he had an opportunity to tell the truth, to give us information about Chandra, to aide the police, he didn't. He said, Connie Chung asked the wrong questions, the format was wrong, 30 minutes wasn't long enough.
EPSTEIN: Nancy, you're taking a cheap shot at Abbe. Abbe didn't say that. Abbe didn't say that.
EPSTEIN: Abbe merely said that the mother called to ask Gary Condit about other people that Chandra knew.
GRACE: About other lovers.
EPSTEIN: He didn't say that, he said about other people...
KING: He implied that.
GRACE: You can parse words all you want to, I heard what he said.
EPSTEIN: I'm not parsing words, I'm telling you what Abbe said.
KING: Let me get a break, guys. Hold it. Let me get a break, come back. We'll be right back with Dominick Dunne and our cast. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Geragos will begin the next portion, he has not interrupted once. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF RAMSEY, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: One could say that he answered every question that Connie Chung asked him. He answered every question that we asked him. Now, it's up to the others to decide whether or not that's forthcoming, and that you have got any more out of that conversation after the interview that you did before.
If the congressman wants to join the force, the number has been well published, he can join anytime he would like to and become a detective and make those kinds of things, but until then leave the investigation up to investigators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JODI HERNANDEZ, KOVR CORRESPONDENT: Did you tell them that you were having the affair?
CONDIT: I'm not going to tell you what was said in every -- in every interview in the investigation, I'm just telling you that you are working under some false information by unnamed sources. The first interview, told them everything they asked, all the details, the same in the second.
HERNANDEZ: You have to understand, congressman, that is one of the big points that is so disturbing to your constituents here.
CONDIT: Well, it should be disturbing to them, but it also should be disturbing to you, because it's misinformation that has been spread through the press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mark Geragos. If Julian Epstein is right and if Dominick Dunne is right, the panel is right. Did he -- did he in last night's quote "performance," unquote, severely hurt his case to cause more people to think he is involved?
GERAGOS: I don't think that there is any question that he did. I mean, the fact that Dick Gephardt came out and made the statements that he did today is certainly not helpful. I mean, obviously the polls and the instantaneous polls that Abbe is talking about are something of grave concern, and he's -- I think Julian is absolutely correct. He is hanging by a thread. He has got to get back out there. I know doesn't want to. I know this is obviously, a distasteful process for him. But something has got to happen, because he is hanging by a thread.
KING: And Dominick, he could just chuck it in, right? Not run for reelection and just go away?
DUNNE: Yeah. I think that is -- that is a possibility. And that is what I think is going to happen.
KING: Yeah. Do you think so, Barbara? That he might just in all -- in view of all of this not run? And then if he's not involved it just -- eventually just goes away.
OLSON: Well, you know, we are being rational, saying that is a problem but we heard Gary Condit last night. We heard him saying, "I'm not changing anything. I'm going forward." Last night was all about reelection. Now, obviously, Dick Gephardt is going to be a problem.
KING: But Abbe said tonight that he hasn't decided.
OLSON: Well, Abbe Lowell knows what a disaster it was. Abbe Lowell has a sense of reality. And Abbe Lowell is trying to stop the bleeding. But Gary Condit, you know, can he do another interview? Larry, if he were to come on and sit down and be honest with you, is he too far down the road? Has he denied everything?
Abbe Lowell tried to bring back the Ann Marie Smith, but he's still got the denial of Joleen McKay. He's still got a lot of the other denials. Can he come back now, or is he...
KING: Are you saying nothing can help him?
OLSON: I just think he's so far -- I think he is so far down the road of denial and lying, that unless his constituents say, "Well, you know, Bill Clinton had the meaning of sex, and Condit has a meaning of relationship. We are going to accept it." Which I don't think is likely. He is done.
GERAGOS: But you know what's interesting -- what's interesting, Barbara, is Bill Clinton did come out the first time and he did not exactly get rave reviews. And then came back again, and he was able to repair the damage.
EPSTEIN: Right. But Mark, there wasn't a missing person. There wasn't a missing person there.
GERAGOS: That was the second point I wanted to make, Julian, there's a lot of this that is completely out of his control. And a lot of this depends on what happens with finding Chandra.
EPSTEIN: Look -- if he doesn't -- you want to take a break, go ahead.
OLSON: And indeed a lot of Gary Condit's speech tracked what Bill Clinton did.
KING: Julian. Let Julian finish his sentence. Julian?
EPSTEIN: If he lets everything stay where it is, in other words, he doesn't do another interview, I think he is done in politics. I don't think he can get reelected, I don't think he'll be welcome in the Democratic party.
If he can come on a show like yours, Larry, and give an interview and admit -- I think the things, as Barbara said, that he said about Ann Marie Smith and the other women, that he was wrong to say that. I shuddered when I saw it. I was watching it in the green room with Barbara. I shuddered when I heard him say that. If he can go and begin to backtrack and admit some responsibility, then he may have a chance. But he has got to come on again. If he leaves it as it is, he is dead.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments, get the final thoughts of each of our panelists, and Dominick Dunne predicting that he will not run again. Let's see their final thoughts right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not paying attention to the Congressman. I am paying attention to whether or not this poor girl is -- is found. And that is what I'm interested in. I understand how Washington works. I mean, there is all kinds of stuff that goes on in Washington. People are saying this about somebody, or saying that about somebody. It is a town of gossip. I'm not worried about the gossip, I'm worried about the facts. And there is a girl missing. And our prayers are with her parents. I -- I have seen them on TV. I agonize for the mom and the dad. And that is where my heart is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dominick Dunne, this boggles everyone. How can there be absolutely no clue?
DUNNE: No clue. I don't know. I don't know. I just want to say one thing, Larry, about the stewardess who has been dumped on tonight. I think she did a very, very brave thing in coming forward. I saw her on your show and I believed her story. She has not come forward for fame or money. She has come forward because a girl is missing. And I think it was wonderful.
OLSON: And the other thing about...
KING: Nancy Grace.
KING: I'm sorry. Go ahead.
OLSON: I was going to say, I think -- very quickly about her is she sat down with the FBI for over nine hours under oath and talked to the FBI. And with what Gary Condit said last night, I think he's laid down the gauntlet for these women who have gone and talked to FBI to prove that they didn't perjure themselves.
KING: Mark, it's a puzzle. No clues at all. Usually there are some clues.
GERAGOS: It's probably, I think, why there is just such wild and rampant speculation is because there just is no clue or no evidence here.
KING: Nancy, you've prosecuted cases. You ever seen a case with no clues?
GRACE: Well, I disagree with everybody. I think there are very strong clues. Maybe we are not reading them correctly, but there are clues. And regarding last night and what Abbe Lowell said tonight. Unfortunately, we saw a look at who Gary Condit really is. And Larry, I just want to say, Lowell described this whole thing as a process, but the truth is not a process! It is easy to tell the truth.
KING: Julian, you will get the last word. We have no clues. What do you make of that?
EPSTEIN: Terrible performance on Condit's part last night, but if he can't dispose of a watch box inside a French fry container in a Virginia trash can in a competent way, I don't think he can dispose of a body for four months with no clues. I think actually it is exculpatory for him.
KING: Thank you all very much. And Dominick Dunne's best- selling book is "Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishment." A terrific read. "LARRY KING WEEKEND" featuring past highlights of previous shows over the weekend. We'll be back here Monday on this topic with more guests and more discussion.
Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." I'm Larry King; for all our guests, have a great weekend; good night.
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