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Gary Condit's Staff Speaks Out

Aired August 30, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, an exclusive with the ultimate Condit insider, the congressman's loyal right hand man. He knows more than anybody, and he speaks out for the first time. Top Condit aide Mike Dayton. Also breaking silence about their boss, Condit's executive secretary Jackie Mullen, Condit's field representative Maggie Mejia, Condit's district director Lisa Mantarro Moore, and Condit staff assistant Pat Austin. Exclusive for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We thank you all for coming. We'll have questions for everyone, we'll start with Jackie. You have been with him the longest, right?


KING: How are you holding up?

MULLEN: At this very moment?

KING: Yeah. Throughout this whole thing.

MULLEN: It has been very difficult for all of us, and we are hanging in there, we are hanging tough.

KING: Do you go to Washington with the congressman?

MULLEN: No, I'm in the Modesto office.

KING: But you have been with him since he was in the assembly, right?

MULLEN: Yes, I have.

KING: What's it been like for you, Pat?

PAT AUSTIN, CONDIT STAFF ASSISTANT: Well, I'm in the Modesto office, I have been with him since January '97. And I'm a staff assistant, I work with the constituents. And Gary is a good friend, a good employer, and we all love Gary.

KING: Love him?

AUSTIN: Yes, yes, we all love Gary.

KING: Would you say the same, Maggie?


KING: What's it been like for you?

MEJIA: It has been a whirlwind relationship these last couple of months. Very, very rewarding, the job. I have been with Gary since March of 1994. I have known him for a long time. I have known him since he was on the board of supervisors. I care very deeply for Gary, for his family, and for my family here.

KING: You are a close-knit group.

MEJIA: I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world.

KING: What are there, 16 altogether? Lisa -- I mean, in Washington, and -- are you all -- you probably know the Washington group as well.

LISA MANTARRO MOORE, CONDIT DISTRICT DIRECTOR: Pretty much, very much. Although the people In California have worked together longer in some cases -- some of us more than 10 years.

KING: What's it been like for you?

MOORE: The last four months have been challenging. But the time I spent with the congressman as a member of his staff I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, and I'm not any -- looking to do anything different.

KING: During any of this time, did you ever think of leaving?


KING: Any of you ever think of leaving?


KING: Mike, you have been with him how long?


KING: And you've gotten most attention, so let's start some questions for you, and then we will go around the whole table.


KING: OK. Obviously, what happened with the watch box?

DAYTON: Well -- I knew you were going to ask that question. And, I mean, there has been a lot of hay made about that watch box, and I regret that that has added to, you know, suspicion, or some people pointing to that, and said, you know.

KING: What was going on.

DAYTON: Yeah, what was going on. But you know, I can tell you, I have sat down with the police, and I sat down with them over a two- day period, I have told them everything I know about that. And that's, you know, one area that as you know is under investigation. My attorney thought I was crazy for coming on here tonight to talk, but, you know, so I'm not going to be able to go into the details on that and enlighten you and, you know, the other panel members you have on this program.

But I just came on tonight because I started out in Modesto office, I started out working with these people around this table, and we all care a great deal about Gary Condit and what, you know, has happened to him over the past four months, how he has been vilified and demonized. We feel that he, you know, there is a side to him, a big side to him, that has not gotten out, and that is why we are here tonight.

KING: And we hope to learn that side. But one of the things that has hurt him the most, as we discussed the other night with Chad, is that in the failure to discuss this more openly with the media, it puts an onus on him, so like when you say you've been investigated by the police, you've talked to the police about watch box and you can't talk about it, it makes the average person think, something's wrong with the watch box.

DAYTON: Well, no...

KING: Right? I mean, you would think that if you were watching?

DAYTON: Oh, I'll grant you that. I mean, there has been a lot of statements about crossing state lines. Well, OK, I live in Alexandria, Virginia. I mean, it's been treated like it's 100 miles away. I ride my bike from my house to the office. So, I mean, it's -- it -- you know.

KING: But basically, just what was it?

DAYTON: I don't know. And I'm...

KING: You were just...

DAYTON: And out of respect...

KING: OK. You just drove Gary and -- you just drove him and he threw it away, and you drove back.

DAYTON: I'm not -- Mr. King, with all due respect, I can't go into details of that. I would like to enlighten you and there are some allegations made tomorrow night, and I would like to answer those, but right now, tonight, is not the proper time for me to do that.

MOORE: And although we are here to enlighten you about Gary Condit, we don't want to loss sight of the fact that Chandra Levy is missing, and our hearts, deepest sympathies, go to the Chandra Levy family. They have suffered what I just can't even imagine suffering, and we don't want that to be forgotten in any of these aspects. And that's why we want that number to also appear during your program.

KING: Oh, we will show it a lot. Did you know about Chandra Levy, Jackie?


KING: Didn't know?

MULLEN: No, I never met Chandra.

KING: Did you?


MEJIA: Never met Chandra.

KING: No. Never heard her name?

AUSTIN: Never even heard the name Chandra, no. Not until...

KING: Mike, you obviously knew.

DAYTON: Knew her, yes. I knew her, and she came by the office, you know, probably four times over a six-month period, but you know, no, I had, you know, no idea, I had never seen her in a social setting with my boss.

KING: Now, all of you renounced sort of, denied that he had any relationship, is that correct? Am I correct, that that was -- you as a staff issued a denial?

DAYTON: I don't think there is any written statement of that, but -- I have been -- I have said, made statements in the past that there was not a relationship.

KING: Do you regret those statements?

DAYTON: I don't regret making those. What I regret is, you know, if I have said anything that has caused anybody pain, especially the Levys -- and since we didn't get a chance at the very beginning of this program -- you know, regardless of what we think going through -- I know you started out asking that, but, I mean, our hearts and prayers have been with them, and I mean, part of us going on tonight is, you know...

KING: But you, as a group, have taken a lot of hits.

DAYTON: Yes, we have taken a lot of hits.

MEJIA: You know, we have taken several hits.

DAYTON: But I mean, that's nothing compared to what they are going through. I mean, that -- you know. We're here.

MOORE: The perception by so many people in the community outside of the 18th congressional district is they don't know Gary Condit, they didn't know him before. Gary was not somebody who sought out the media for his agenda. When he serves in Congress or even state assembly, that's never been his method of operation. So it's very unusual for the media to find somebody that wasn't looking for them to tell the story.

KING: All right, his son admitted -- do you think, Pat, that maybe, just maybe, on the other hand, he should have done the other thing and come out early and talked to his wife about whatever the relationship was -- and that is none of our business, but at least get involved more openly in Chandra?

AUSTIN: I don't know what his discussions were with his wife. I know he talked to -- I mean, he called the authorities, and he reported everything.

KING: Do you think he should have done more?

AUSTIN: I'm not sure.

KING: Police chief said that he had to see him four times, you know, so in fact, police issued a statement today about it, in which he thought that he should have come forward earlier and discussed it more -- I mean, what I'm getting at is: Do you think he should have done this differently, public relations-wise?

MEJIA: Well, you know, Larry, I have a question on that. They have said over and over again that he is not suspect. So why are they not asking all the others that are on the list, openly like they have with Gary -- is it because he is a congressman? But there are other suspects on the list. I believe that they should be also interrogated and put through the mill as Gary and his family, and we the staff have done.

AUSTIN: But we aren't hearing about them.

MEJIA: No, we're not.

AUSTIN: Not a word.

KING: Do you think maybe he should have talked openly earlier?

MOORE: To whom, the press?

KING: Yeah.

MOORE: I don't...

KING: Just come out and say, look, I'm -- she was my friend, I'm worried about her, anything I can do.

MOORE: He said those, he said those things. She is a good friend, he was concerned, he put up money for a reward fund, which is not unlike he has done for other people in his district in the past. It was as far as discussing this any further with the press, he did discuss it with law enforcement and I'm not going to parse what the police chief has said.

KING: No, but you can have an opinion.

MOORE: And my opinion is that... KING: He did the right thing?

MOORE: He did the right thing as far as he did not go to the media to tell his story.

KING: But look at all that's happened to him because of that, Jackie. As his son said the other night, it may be regretful, but perception is reality.

MULLEN: Right, exactly.

KING: And that's what happened to him. Do you think he might have handled it differently?

MULLEN: Yes. I would have liked to have seen him go out in the very beginning, and say to media, "I'm not going to talk about this. I have nothing say to you folks. You know, this is something that is between me and my family, this is private." But I wish he would have said, I'm not going to talk to the press.

KING: In today's era, Mike, is that a mistake, do you think? Just on the nature...

DAYTON: Well, I think -- I don't know if it was you who said that there are no comments over...

KING: No comment means something's wrong.

DAYTON: Well...

KING: In retrospect, we have the value of hindsight.

DAYTON: In retrospect, we don't have -- yeah, I mean, hindsight is great, but unfortunately we can't go back and I think that was the decision early on -- and I mean, he -- you know, we all received that advice, contemplated it, I mean, for him to come out early and, you know make a statement about a denial, or you know -- mea Cuban, but I mean, we didn't do that.

He chose to focus his efforts on law enforcement. I mean, I was out passing out fliers as soon as we knew she was missing. I mean, what's really getting lost is -- I mean, we are not asking constructive questions, like if Dr. Levy really called, you know, as he said, the apartment building on Wednesday and then said "no, I can't go in into the building" -- I mean, you know, is that a policy we should look at to change in the District of Columbia? Or I mean, should the manager have called the D.C. police and find out? Those are the I think questions that if they can help later on, then I mean, we should be focusing on that.

KING: We'll be right back with more of the staff of Congressman Gary Condit on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with the Condit staff. By the way, the tip line number if you have any information about Chandra Levy at all, is (800) 860-6552. That's (800) 860-6552. There you see her parents, and the well-known photograph of her.

Before we talk about Gary the man, in the early days, there were denials, and Abbe Lowell said in a TV interview that Congressman Condit never told his staff to go out and lie, and didn't authorize any statements they made. That true?

DAYTON: Yes, that's true.

KING: So you made them on your own.

DAYTON: I did. I made denials, I made emphatic denials. Perhaps hindsight, you know...

KING: In retrospect...

DAYTON: No, but I mean, I always say what I believe to be true. I mean, you have to put yourself in my shoes. I'm getting calls at 8:30 in the morning, D.C. time, it's 5:30 out here, and I get a call from a reporter saying she's going to air a story, you know, right then, that these two are dating. And I've never even, you know, I have heard of this woman, but I don't even put them together. I don't even know who she's talking about, so obviously I'm going to say no.

KING: And again, with the balance of hindsight, it's a mistake, but you were acting as an assistant would act.

DAYTON: I think I was acting as an assistant would act.

KING: Were all of you asked the same thing, or was it more the Washington staff?

MEJIA: Let's put it this other way, Larry. We get telephone calls, and they'll ask: "Do you know where the murderer is?" How do you think that makes us feel? "Do you have Chandra? Do you know where she's hidden?"

KING: Well, those are obvious idiots.

MOORE: As far as the question, if people asking us, no. And in all fairness, the media spokespeople for our office are not all the people sitting up here right now.

KING: Did you ever say -- did you ever, Jackie, as the congressman who is she? What is this about?

MULLEN: No, I don't think I ever did.

KING: All right, now, why not? You know him all these years and the story is all over the newspapers. I would think that the first thing I would ask him is what's the story? .

MULLEN: Well, with the rumors that I had heard, I never asked Gary Condit those kinds of questions.

KING: Ever?

MULLEN: Ever. And he never asked me those kinds of questions.

MEJIA: I would say the same. I've never asked him that, nor has he ever asked me any of those types of questions.

KING: Mike?

DAYTON: No, I've never asked him that. I don't know. I don't feel comfortable talking about that to him.

KING: But logically, you're driving around in a car with your boss. Your his major deputy, or administrative assistant. It's in all the newspapers. You don't say what happened?

DAYTON: No, I feel if that's something he wants to share with me, he will. But no, I've never asked him, and you know what, I don't think I ever will. I mean, you were sitting next to Chad here the other night, and I would think he told you that that's something that they would like to stay within the family. They shared...


KING: And I respect that. But if someone working with him...

DAYTON: I'm not a member of his family. You know, I love the guy, but if that's something he wants to talk about with me then he can, you know, start the conversation.

KING: And the same with you, Stacy? You never asked him.

MEJIA: I would never ask him, never.

KING: Why do you love him, Pat?

AUSTIN: As I said, he's a great boss, and he cares about his constituents. What we have to do on a daily basis is reach out to our constituents. They reach out to us, they come to us for assistance, daily. We get hundreds of calls every day. We have people walking in the office, help me. And as far as Gary Condit is concerned, he has us there to help them. And that is exactly what he wants us to do.

KING: So he's a very caring...

AUSTIN: Exactly.

KING: Why do you think, Maggie, he didn't show that? In other words, you will admit that in the interview with Connie Chung, he did not show up as a caring, passionate, concerned person.

MEJIA: You know, I'm sure that he was nervous. Everyone has been waiting to hear after four months.

KING: On this...

MEJIA: Exactly. The media lives out in front of his home, in the backyard, in the alleyway, his children's home, in front of our office. You know, this can take a toll on any human being.

AUSTIN: Day after day.

MEJIA: And I'm sure that Gary, for the first time in his life, was nervous. And because Gary is such a careful and fair person, he wanted to be open as much as he could without hurting anyone. And those that he did not want to hurt were the Levys and his family and his constituents.

KING: Why do you think he didn't look, as they're saying, loving? He didn't look like a loving -- I mean, he'd be the first to admit, if he watched the tape, I didn't look like a loving person.

MOORE: You know, for the very reasons stated. You know, it's been a difficult time, and I'm not trying to play this as Gary Condit the victim. I need to make that real clear. But it was a difficult situation. It was a very high stakes matter, and whether it played as we would have liked to have it played, or the way it turned out, it was difficult.

KING: How did you feel watching it, Jackie?

MULLEN: It was painful to watch, and I mean, I think, in his shoes, if I was asked, "did you kill this person?" That's one of the first or second questions asked, I mean, I know he was defensive. And people have commented about how charismatic and caring and feeling Chad was on the program. His dad is 10 times that. I mean, I love Chad and he's wonderful, but his dad is, too. And what we saw on Connie Chung wasn't Gary Condit.

KING: I've had people say to me since Chad was on what a difference between the father and the son. You're saying it's not that.


DAYTON: I'm saying he's got, I mean, Chad, I think, has got the best traits of his mother and father. But I mean, you know, Mr. Condit is not the person that you saw on Connie Chung.

MOORE: How could a man be elected for 30 years to public office with a negative disposition and not caring for his public? This man has been touted for years because of the work he does. We have people that call our office from all walks of life because they need help. It may not be something that federal government has anything to do with, but they've heard that Gary Condit will help people and not turn them away. And that's true. We get people calling from other districts, sometimes even out of the state. "Well, I heard Gary Condit can do this to help my family." And you know what, that's been his level of service from day one.

KING: Has he ever apologized or anything to you for what he's put you through? I mean, you've gone through a lot through this.

MEJIA: Absolutely. He has.

KING: He has.

MOORE: We've had some difficult situations, most especially, we had the one that affected some of -- the four of us here from the Modesto office personally, is when some radio reporters burst into our office and under the protection of the First Amendment, which I'm very proud of our Constitution, but under protection of the First Amendment, began shouting very difficult questions towards us, as a staff, that very much challenged us -- where it was broadcast on the air to greater L.A., simultaneous. And it was a difficult situation, and...

KING: He apologized.


KING: I mean, Gary told you that he was sorry he put you through this?

MULLEN: Oh, of course.


AUSTIN: Yes, he did.

MOORE: The radio jocks haven't apologized, and I don't see that happening. But my point is, under the media circus that has followed this whole thing. this is one of the other things that's a fallout.

KING: We'll ask them in a minute how they felt about the man they know and the charges they hear, and how they equate those two right after this.


KING: OK, group, Mike, when you hear like a stewardess come forward, as she did, what do you think? In other words, how do you -- you didn't know about her, right?

DAYTON: No. I didn't know about her.

KING: OK, how do you relate to that?

DAYTON: How do I relate to it?

KING: Yeah, what do you -- what do you say to yourself?

DAYTON: It just dismays me. I don't...

KING: It dismays you?

DAYTON: I don't know why. It does. I don't know why anybody would want to, you know, use a tragedy to come out, and you know, say things about Gary.

KING: But did you...

DAYTON: I don't know. I don't understand...

KING: Did you not believe her?

DAYTON: No, I'm not saying -- you know, I'm not going to say I don't believe her or I believe her. I mean, that's not for me to say. I just don't understand -- I wasn't raised that way, that if you have any type of dealings with a person, the last place you go to is -- I mean, first of all, you don't even tell other people about it, but you don't...

KING: But it was two of her friends that told on her, is what she said why she came forward.

DAYTON: Well -- well, I've seen her on TV an awful lot, so I don't think her friends are making her go on TV.

KING: When you heard what she had to say, Pat, were you shocked?

AUSTIN: Yes, I was. Yes, I was. I cannot relate it to the man that I work for.

KING: So you -- either it happened or it didn't happen or he's two different people or what?

AUSTIN: I just cannot relate it to the man that I work for.

KING: OK. And...

AUSTIN: I couldn't even imagine it.

KING: ... Maggie?

MEJIA: Umm, Gary's personal life is nothing that I would like to know about. I don't discuss my personal life with Gary nor his family, and so I don't feel that what he does is any of our business outside of the federal level and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) staff assistants and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) workers.

KING: Did it upset you?

MEJIA: Well, yes, of course. Yes, of course, it did. It upset all of us. It hurt.

AUSTIN: It hurt.

MEJIA: It hurt, because all of us was being attacked, and it's like a mother depending her child and vice versa.

KING: You feel that close to him?

MEJIA: Yes, I do. I wouldn't be working for him and I wouldn't be here today, against doctor's orders...

AUSTIN: It hurt.

MOORE: ... if -- if I didn't feel that strongly about Gary. KING: You're all here on your own, right?


DAYTON: ... absolutely.


KING: Lisa, how did you feel when you saw her?

MOORE: I -- I felt dismayed, is a good word. And I was -- I'm always bewildered by people who capitalize on someone else's tragedy, and also at the -- what it puts their own lives through. I can't imagine, relationship or not, if somebody is speaking out against someone what it puts them through as well. I can't imagine somebody doing that to themselves, to their family. And for what gain? I don't know.

It was -- it was just sad.

KING: But did any part of you, Jackie, say to yourself, why would he do this? Why would he be involved with something like this? You know, aside from Chandra and all the rest, if true, why? You know, you know, you love -- you like his wife.

MULLEN: I love his wife. She's a wonderful lady.

KING: So did you say -- you never said that to yourself?

MULLEN: That I...

KING: If the stewardess is true, why would Gary do this?

MULLEN: Yeah, sure. Sure, I said that to myself.

KING: But it doesn't cause you to think less of him?

MULLEN: Absolutely not. No.

KING: Is that conflicting, Mike, in you? Was it conflicting in you?

DAYTON: Conflicting? No...


DAYTON: No, it wasn't conflicting.

MOORE: We have friends. We all have friends, relationships, people we deal with, family members, and if we're going to...

KING: In other words, you're standing up...

MOORE: ... create a picture of which -- you know, we stand by our friends and our family when they need to be stood by, and if they have issues they need to deal with in their lives, then they need to deal with them.

KING: This was important, because it happened with Clinton and his staff. Did Gary Condit ever knowingly lie to you?



KING: Lie where you could say, Mister, my boss, you lied to me?





KING: Never?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not on any occasion.



KING: We'll be right back with more of the Condit staff. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, we're going to include your phone calls for this staff, all of whom are -- by -- do you want him to run again?


AUSTIN: Yes, I do.

KING: Only not to...

AUSTIN: To do it for the Valley.

KING: What?

AUSTIN: Oh, I'm not worried about my job.



KING: You're not. You're weird.


KING: Maggie, you want him to run again?

MEJIA: Absolutely, absolutely.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn't ask her why.

AUSTIN: Yeah, you didn't ask me why.

KING: Because he's so good, I heard her that say.




AUSTIN: In fact, all I have to say is sign retirement papers.

KING: You're at retirement age?

AUSTIN: Yes. See, don't make big assumptions.


KING: OK. Well, that's a happy assumption.

AUSTIN: All right.

KING: I thought your mother would bring you here.


MEJIA: I do want him to run again, and I see the future of the Valley. And Gary has done so much for the Valley. And after he's gone, everyone is going to kick themselves in the butt for allowing this to happen.

KING: His son doesn't want him to run again. What do you think, Mike?

DAYTON: Well, I'm conflicted.


DAYTON: I mean, I'm -- he's done a great job, and there's part of me that, I guess, maybe is a competitive streak, but I'd like to see him run because he's done such a great job. But the other side of me sees what the past four months has done to him, his family, you know, his kids, his parents, and everybody else. And you know, on my other hand, it's like, you know, nothing is worth what you've gone through, and after 30 years, if there's people out there, if polls are true, that believe that he could have any way had something to do with her disappearance or possibly murder, I mean, that -- if people really think, then I don't think they deserve him, because they don't know him and they should have gotten to know him better over...

KING: So you understand how his son feels? DAYTON: Yeah.

KING: What do you think he should do, Lisa?

MOORE: Well, I'm very competitive, and I think he should run and win.

KING: You think he would win? Do you think he could overcome this?

MOORE: If he wants to. If he wants to make that decision for himself. That will be something he has to think about with his family if he wants to do it.

KING: I mean, he could say, I don't need this.

MOORE: Very rightly so, yeah.


KING: Jackie?

MULLEN: I think he should say I don't need this anymore.

KING: You think he should not run?

MULLEN: I think he should not have to put up with what he's had to put up with. And I think no, I don't think he should.

KING: So it's 3 to 1, and one on the fence. Conflicted, because you like the spur of the race.

Oh, you said seeing what he's gone through...

DAYTON: No, I don't -- seeing what he's gone through.

KING: Has it really been visible to you?

DAYTON: Oh, yes, absolutely.


KING: I want to ask about that and other things. We'll also include some of your phone calls. We're only halfway through. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE. There you see our guest Mike Dayton talking to his boss Gary Condit. That's obviously on one of his committee meetings in Washington, D.C.

Let's meet our group. Mike Dayton is the top aide -- top Washington aide to the Congressman. Jackie Mullen is his executive secretary, has worked for him since 1983. Maggie Mejia his field representative, volunteered on many of his campaigns, been with him since '94. Lisa Mantarro Moore is his district director of the 18th district. Began as an intern for him 1988. And Pat Austin is Condit staff assistant, came to work for him in January of '97.

Mike, I have to ask you -- I don't know if you are permitted to answer -- based on investigations about the Joleen Argentine McKay. You said that Mr. Condit never asked her to lie, but is she lying when she says that you asked her to lie?

DAYTON: I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt. I -- the only thing that I have seen that allegation made in is the press. And if I have learned anything over the past four months, it is sometimes that newspapers don't always get it right and...

KING: You haven't heard from her.

DAYTON: I haven't heard it from her, but I can tell you, I never asked her to lie. And it was also misreported that you know, I had made telephone calls to her. I never called her. She called me twice. I used to consider her a friend. I'm disappointed that if that is true -- but I'm telling you, I'm going give her the benefit of the doubt, and...

KING: Have you heard -- you haven't heard from her since then.

DAYTON: Obviously I am not going to talk to her. You know, if she -- I can give her my attorney's name she wants to talk to him.

KING: She said that you introduced them. Did you?

DAYTON: I dated Joleen for a year, and we were on a date, and I think, you know, the Congressman actually took us out to dinner so it -- it certainly wasn't introducing her to him.

KING: Do you think there was relationship there? Or you have no idea.

DAYTON: No. I don't. You know. I'm not going to speculate on...

KING: But you are disappointed in her.

DAYTON: I am disappointed in her, especially if it's true. I mean, she, you know, obviously she worked for us. She knows Mr. Condit is a married man.

KING: Are you all mad at the press? Are you mad at them? This is the group known as the press, there is a lot of elements. Obviously you are mad at a radio station running into your office screaming, "You're on the air." Weird. But are you generally mad?

MULLEN: Well, they certainly have been preoccupied with Mr. Condit's personal life.

KING: You don't think he contributed to that?

MULLEN: By not coming out and... KING: I mean, once something is discussed about -- my opinion the other night was I talked to Chad - is you have to talk about it. It may be uncomfortable. It may be you -- even if you don't want to discuss it.

MOORE: Gary has never been somebody who has gone to press for -- looking for absolvence (sic) or be able to discuss his matters. That is not how he's campaigned, that's not how he's conducted business in all the years he has been in office. So it would be unfathomable to me that he would jump to the press to be his spokesbox -- at their timetable, not his.

KING: You mad at them, Maggie?

MEJIA: Yes, I am. Why do they come after his family like they did? I mean, to see on national television Darryl Condit. Any other person in the same situation as Darryl would not have gotten the coverage that he did.

KING: The brother?

MEJIA: The brother, exactly. Reverend Condit -- he was bashed because he came to give words of prayer at the rally. There was no reason for that. There was...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been a tough situation.

MEJIA: It's just been very hard for the family.

MOORE: And the elected person -- any public official knows that they are going to come under a higher level of scrutiny than a private citizen, but in this past four months, look at the scrutiny played to by the whole family members. The press has set up its own little world in Gary's hometown. They camp out in his front yard, they camp out in the neighbor's front yard. They go to the drugstore to see what kind of medication people purchase.

MEJIA: They are out in front of our office every day.

MOORE: Front of the office, back of the office. They follow you.

KING: They see what medication is purchased?

MOORE: There has been reports from the local drugstore that different tabloids and other what -- so-called reputable press sources -- have called to find out what kind of medication does the family purchase on regular basis.

MEJIA: Calling us at home if we are ready to give our side of the story. And how much would we like to receive. That is uncalled for.

AUSTIN: The problem with the press -- we are in our office and they are outside our office every day. All day. Even when we are not there on the weekend. We have constituents that come in and out of the office, and they occasionally stop these people and interview them. A lot -- often we have seen them, if a person -- and they come back in and tell us, and if the person tells -- reiterates the fact that they like Gary Condit, they don't want to talk to them.

MOORE: They're only looking for the negatives.

AUSTIN: That is what I don't like.

MOORE: We hear this time and again, not just today, not last week, but since -- since the beginning.

AUSTIN: Exactly.

MOORE: People are coming out saying, "I want to talk positive about Gary Condit." Oh, we don't have time for you.

AUSTIN: Let's hear both sides.

MOORE: It's unfortunate. It's unfortunate -- this whole thing about a girl missing, which is really the focus of this, and that is what Mr. Condit has made his focus -- has turned into let's see what we can pull out about Gary Condit's life and let's see what we can do to destroy this man.

KING: I guess no one has got hit more than you other than the Congressman. How do you feel about the press?

DAYTON: The press. Well, I mean, it's an inconvenience. It's a minor inconvenience, but still, you've got to go back to the point. I mean, you know, they have done constructive things, they have kept Chandra's name out there, picture out there, so I mean, I commend them for that. I mean, with all the talk shows going on -- one of you guys should start an hour program just on missing persons, you know, and you can leave off the other...

KING: Do any of you wonder at all about the private side of Gary? Any of you? Mike?

DAYTON: No. I don't. I mean I don't wonder about it. I have got a busy life...

KING: If any of these stories are true, would he come down a peg in...

MOORE: We don't want to be painted as a bunch of simpletons who just go to work and do our job.

KING: That's what I mean. Would he come down a peg if any of these stories are true, in your mind?

MOORE: The stories -- whether or not they are true -- don't affect my life. They affect his and his family's. And that is where it should stay. Just as I would expect the same of my accountant or the guy that works on my car. That is not my place to judge. The work they provide to me, the service they provide to me -- it's that same level. KING: So you don't judge him.

MOORE: No. Last year I had two back surgeries, and had some personal problems related to that back surgery, and, I don't think I came down any pegs in Gary's eyes. He was just there to support me when I had my problems.

KING: He has always been loyal to all of you?

MOORE: Absolutely.

AUSTIN: Absolutely.

MEJIA: And to our families, absolutely.

KING: We'll be back with more. We'll start to include some phone calls. We are giving you many sides of Congressman Gary Condit. You might safely say the best-known Congressman in America. Don't go away.


KING: We will go to your calls in a moment. On the day Chandra was missing, Mike, were you with the congressman that day?

DAYTON: The day Chandra was missing?

KING: When she turned up missing. The day she disappeared.

DAYTON: On May 1, I was with him probably every day that week. We went over, we met with the vice president that day, I was with him then, I picked him up, and we went to the meeting together, the vice president was gracious, and it was the first time I got to meet the vice president. Then we went back to the office. So I was with him, you know, the whole day.

KING: Were you shocked at all about any of the things about the relationship that he admitted to, she came over, my house, to work with me at night?

DAYTON: No, I'm not shocked. I mean, I really -- no.

KING: That didn't surprise you?

DAYTON: No. And I haven't talked to him about the details and I haven't, I am shocked at the press, you know, sometimes gets things wrong, too. You know, I wasn't shocked that Otis Thomas, you may recall Otis Thomas made an allegation.

So that didn't shock me that even after emphatically saying that Mr. Condit never knew this woman, and doesn't know who Jennifer Thomas woman is, and for people that don't know, this reverend that happens to be the lawn care guy for the Levys makes an allegation that Gary had an affair with her daughter, and there is this love child. And they reported it anyway, so no, I mean, there has been many things, but they haven't shocked me. (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it made headlines everywhere.

KING: I mean when Gary said that night, yes, she would come over to the house and we would talk about things at night. That didn't surprise you?

DAYTON: He never said that to me.

KING: But when he said it on the air it didn't surprise you?

DAYTON: No. I mean...

KING: That is what I meant. Did anything he say surprise you?


KING: Let's include some phone calls for the staff and we go to Madrid, New Mexico, hello.

CALLER: Hi. First of all, I just want to commend the staff on their loyalty to their boss, but as we know there can be a huge discrepancy between a public and a private persona. And I was wondering if any of you think that there might exist a Gary Condit that you don't know?

KING: Let's go around -- Jackie, you know him the longest, right?

MULLEN: I do. There may be some things in his life I don't know. But, no, I don't think that there is a Gary Condit we don't know. I don't think -- the people that know, no, I think the people that know Gary Condit know Gary Condit and the people that are making the judgments don't know him, have never met him. They see the pictures, and...

MOORE: And the judgment we are talking about is whether or not he committed a crime, and if he had anything to doing with Chandra's disappearance which is just so far from Gary Condit, the man, the man we work for and the man that serves in Congress, that it makes it so difficult, and we hear these types of calls saying, well, maybe you don't know that side about him. That is -- that is our difficulty with it.

KING: Mike.


KING: What he is what he is?

DAYTON: Yeah, what he is what he is and...

KING: There is no dark side? DAYTON: No, I mean, I think if the caller knows him through the press the last four months, as Jackie and Lisa were saying, they don't know the Gary Condit that we know. And that is our whole purpose for being here tonight. There is no other agenda. We have just seen this guy get beat up and torn to shreds for four months...

KING: And obviously you are standing by him.

DAYTON: Yes, we are standing by him.

KING: Maggie, you think there are two...

MEJIA: The Gary Condit that we know is the Gary Condit that others don't know. I would just like to ask those listening tonight if they have ever called their congressman in the middle of the night in a flood, to go help them with sandbags at levies, to go help a neighbor down the street because the neighbor is ill, that is the Gary Condit they don't know.

KING: He would do that?


MEJIA: Yes, he has done this many times.


MOORE: ... distraught family whose son was flying to Taiwan to teach English who never reported in. Three days later the family is distressed, they call their congressman, and it was about 11:30 at night and the congressman contacts the staff to get appropriate numbers and he calls the officials at the American Institute Taiwan to help find this individual and I am pleased to report they did.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And his phone number is in the phone book. It is listed. He does not have an unlisted number.

AUSTIN: Out constituents go to his home, he is in Washington, to talk to his wife.


MOORE: Let me tell you a little bit about Carolyn. Carolyn is an incredible woman, and Gary Condit is very fortunate to have Carolyn as his wife because she has helped him stay in touch with the district, because it gets harder as you move up the political office to stay in...

KING: She stays in Modesto.

MOORE: ... yes, and stay grounded and know where your home is. That has never been forgotten. And you think he appreciates that fully? MEJIA: And don't forget, Larry, the call the Levys made to Gary came to her, he was home in the district, he was home in district that weekend because he had been in several parades, in Ceres and in Modesto, so he was home in the district, so the Levys called. That is the confidence they have is in calling Gary at home. Many of his constituents have that confidence.

MOORE: I think the point we want to make is that Carolyn Condit, on numerous occasions in Gary's absence, people come to the door, she invites them in for coffee. She sits with them, she cries with them. She takes the information. And then she repeats it back to him and his staff so they can follow up and make a difference.

She drives senior citizens to their doctors's appointments. That is not just something she does for the press that is something she does every day.

DAYTON: I was just going to say when you mentioned that, you know, she lives here and he lives there, well, I mean, you know Congress more than anybody, but, you know we are there maybe eight months, seven months out of the year, and it is lately been a Tuesday to Thursday.

I know, the Gary Condit that when up when he received a call from his wife, he can hardly wait to get back home. The only time I have every seen him upset is when we have suspension votes and that means he can't go to a little league game.

KING: That all could be possible and he could have a weakness. couldn't he?

MEJIA: We all do. We all have a weakness.

KING: But if he does, that is something you are not interested in or forgive?


KING: We will be right back. They have made that very clear. Don't go away.


KING: Mike Dayton, what do you make of Gephardt's criticism, Gray Davis' criticism, causing the two kids to quit?

DAYTON: Well that saddened me to hear that, you know, criticism, so I don't, you know, I know a lot of people were disappointed in their interview. But I just hope people take a step back and take a look at everything he said. I mean, you know, a lot of interviews with the local press, like "Turlock Journal" and "Merced Sun-Star," and I hope they get a chance to read those, and I hope they get a chance to talk to Gary directly.

KING: What's it going to be like when you go back to Washington next week, do you think, for him? DAYTON: We'll have TV cameras, I'm sure, following our every move, and it will be more of the same.

MEJIA: So just like last week.

DAYTON: Yes, so we've go about our business, though, and get the job done.

KING: Even if you don't want him to run again, you don't want him to resign.

MULLEN: No I do not.

KING: And you do not want him to resign, even if he chooses not to run. Obviously, you don't, because you're against it.

Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, with all the controversy surrounding the congressman and the constant media attention, how can Congressman Condit concentrate on the needs of his constituents? And is the stress beginning to show with him, in your opinion?

KING: Maggie?

MEJIA: He's doing his job. He continues to do his job.

KING: Stress is not take anything toll?

MEJIA: Oh, it would on anyone that's a human being. I'm sure it is.

MOORE: But his levels of mail and the stuff that's coming out of his office hasn't changed. The congressman sends out hundreds of letters, with respect to casework and other items, throughout the district. That's still at the same level it was last year. So he is still doing his job, he's still going to his committee assignments. He's still reporting in and reporting on the floor. Mike can speak more as to what all that includes. But as far as meeting the constituents' needs in the district, that's never wavered.

MULLEN: Anyone with a problem is still calling our office and they're still getting their problem resolved.

KING: But the personal effect on him has to be tremendous, Mike.

DAYTON: Yes, I mean, on anybody. But I mean, he's still, I mean, you know. Gary Condit is really good under pressure, especially when he gets his back up against the wall. You know, this isn't a totally new experience to him. I mean, if you look back -- I wasn't part of the team then, Jackie may know -- but back in the California Assembly where they moved his office around every week, where he didn't know where his office was, and, when he took a principled stand in the assembly, I mean, that -- I mean, this guy doesn't fold under pressure.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and get some closing remarks from each of our guests. Don't go away.


KING: Is this a -- are all of you going to start appearing in lots of places as part of some blitz campaign?


AUSTIN: Definitely no.

DAYTON: This is it.

AUSTIN: Definitely not.

MOORE: This is our only appearance. We're not looking for playing the talking head game. This is it. This is it.

KING: Mike, what did you make of the Levys' criticism of your boss?

DAYTON: Well, that was hard to take. And I mean, I understand. I've talked to Dr. Levy and I know I can't imagine what they're going through.

KING: So you didn't get angry at anything they said?

DAYTON: No, how can you possibly get angry at them? I mean, you see them on TV and their pain is so apparent.

KING: You walk in their shoes.

DAYTON: All I've got is sorrow for what they're going through.

KING: There's something you wanted to say, Jackie?

MULLEN: Yes, well, when you say walking in their shoes -- in February of '97, my oldest son died. And really, before my mom and dad got to my house, Gary Condit and his father were at my home sitting in my living room. And he said to me at the time, you know, when I felt like I wasn't going to be able to put one foot in front of the other, that, you know, we're going to get through this. I'm going to be there for you, and you're going to make it, Jackie. You know, I'll be there for whatever you need. Carolyn and I are here, one foot in front of the other, take as much time as you need. Do what you need to do. But really, he was just so there for me.

KING: How old was the boy?

MULLEN: Thirty-two.

KING: Boy, that, see, it goes back to what we discussed with Chad. Had he come out the first day, didn't even have to say anything about the relationship, that's my business. I worried about this girl, I care about her. I'll call the Levys every day. I'll be on television, I'll be part of the search team, he would have -- that whole picture would have been different. Don't you really think? DAYTON: Could have been.

KING: I mean, it's easy to say it, but that could have been -- this could have been a whole...

DAYTON: But I just want to make sure how many people should know that he did care and he did feel, and we did go out and pass out fliers and he did talk to the police, so it's -- I mean, I hope people can finally draw the distinction between cooperating with the police and the press.

KING: Think he can overcome this, Pat?

AUSTIN: I hope so. It's hard for all of us.

KING: Maggie?

MEJIA: I know he will. And I have the faith in Gary and these are my closing remarks. There is one thing I would like to say, is that Gary treats everyone with a lot of respect and with dignity, whether they are a CEO or a farm worker. I have seen him walk the fields, where the farm workers are at, as I have seen him in meetings with all these CEOs. And everyone is treated the same, in his eyes. And that's why I'm so proud to work for him, because he doesn't have a label for anyone. He is a human being.

KING: You think can he recover?

MOORE: If he choose to, in whatever direction he wants to go with that. You know, this has been a difficult time for him and his family, and it's very challenging, and he has every right to say what do I want to do this anymore for? But to take away what the media, in my opinion, has taken away and chipped away at him for those 30 years worth of work he's done, is the reason we came here tonight to say that there's more to it.

DAYTON: And you saw one of the reasons why he can recover the other night. I mean, his son, Chad, his daughter, Cadee, and his wife, Carolyn, his parents, his whole family.

KING: Thank you all very much. We hope you enjoyed this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Our panel will be back to discuss it tomorrow, and we've got a special coming up on the congressman and Jeff Greenfield has a special in a half-hour as well. That's all ahead.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Larry King. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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