CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Gary Condit
Aired February 25, 2002 - 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: Congressman Gary Condit, exclusive and no subject off limits.
What might have happened to Chandra Levy? That's 300 days ago. And his chances for reelection.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Congressman Gary Condit of California is our special guest tonight. If you haven't heard of him, you're on another planet.
It's a great pleasure having you.
Why are you running again? I mean, you had a chance to just go quietly into the night.
REP. GARY CONDIT (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, there was no reason for me not to run. I mean, I have a good 30 years of public service. I've been a strong advocate for my district in the Congress for the last 11 years. So there's just really no reason for me not to run. Just no reason for me not to. This is my...
KING: Did you ever debate it with yourself?
GARY CONDIT: Well, yes. I thought really long and hard about it. I mean, it wasn't an easy decision. I mean, I took some time to think it through. But the fact of the matter is that, you know, there was just no reason for me to walk away from something that I love to do, and that's to be a public servant, and particularly for the people of the central valley of California.
So there's just no reason for me not to.
KING: And there negatives, though, were what, when you were weighing it?
GARY CONDIT: Well, the negatives were that I would go through the same kind of news media, you know, pursuit that I had just gone through for like six or seven months. So that and the fact that the media had created a tremendous amount of negative for me. I mean, I usually win by like 70 percent of the vote. And they peeled off a lot of support just, you know, on hearsay, rumors, innuendo and so on and so forth.
I mean, it was like every day, you know, there was something on the air about me that was negative. So those were the downsides.
KING: And it's had its effect. You're trailing in the polls, and the primary is a week from tomorrow.
GARY CONDIT: I'm catching him, Larry.
KING: Are you getting closer?
GARY CONDIT: I'm going to catch him.
KING: The primary is a week from tomorrow, right?
GARY CONDIT: Yes.
KING: And you have how many opponents?
GARY CONDIT: I have five opponents.
KING: On the Democratic side?
GARY CONDIT: On the Democratic side.
KING: Are there Republican -- are they running too?
GARY CONDIT: They have a primary too. They have three opponents on the Republican side.
KING: DO you have to get 50 percent of the vote?
GARY CONDIT: You just get the most votes, and then you go to a runoff with the Republicans.
KING: So that's it?
GARY CONDIT: That's it.
KING: The runoff is in November?
GARY CONDIT: November runoff, yes.
KING: So if you get 36 percent, the next guy gets 35 percent, you...
GARY CONDIT: I'm in. And let me tell you, I've got a strong -- a very strong base, very strong Condit support, people who have hung with me through all this. And they're going to go to the polls.
KING: We talk about the media a lot, but you, yourself, as you look at yourself, what did you do wrong?
GARY CONDIT: I probably didn't anticipate the gravity of what the media was going to do, how they were going to respond to this. I actually thought I had done what I was supposed to do. And that is, you know, report and tell everything that I knew to the law enforcement people. But I never imagined in my wildest dreams that the media would take off on this like they did. I mean, I actually, Larry, I thought I knew about injustice. I thought I -- I mean, I had served people for 30 years. I thought I knew about people who had come in and had problems, and things had not worked out for them.
But I had no idea. I just had no idea. And I'm sorry I didn't. I mean...
KING: So had you, given the knowledge of retrospect, would you now come forward sooner, discuss more of it sooner?
GARY CONDIT: Well, I did come forward. Within 48 hours I had two detectives in my -- in our home in Washington, D.C.
KING: I'm talking about to the media. We know the detectives talked to you. Do you think you should have been present more in a sense of trying to find it, appearing more rather than appearing less?
GARY CONDIT: Well I -- you know, I went on and did my job. So I was out every day doing my job. But I did not want to grant an interview, you know, every day, every few hours about this case because I thought it was about a missing person.
They made it into something other than it was. And so I really thought the appropriate way was to let the law enforcement people figure this out. I thought -- you know, I thought what I would do is probably cause harm. I might say something I shouldn't say in terms of maybe being helpful in finding her.
For example, if you just take the question -- you know, one of the questions law enforcement asked me was where did she hang out? Well, I didn't know where she hung out. But had I known that and I said that publicly, I might have jeopardized the case. There's no telling what I would have said that might have hurt the case.
But I did what I thought I was supposed to do, and that was to tell law enforcement everything that I knew about Chandra and about the case. And I did that. And I did that, Larry, in a timely fashion. I did it within 48 hours. I invited them to my house.
And so this thing about, he delayed, or he didn't tell them, or he didn't tell them the whole thing -- I told them everything.
KING: When law enforcement leaked that you had a relationship with her beyond just a friendship, and you either denied it -- why didn't you come right out then? And that was a law enforcement leak.
GARY CONDIT: Right. Well, that's what they say. It's an unnamed source.
KING: Yes, but the press got it from someone in law enforcement.
GARY CONDIT: Well, the press...
KING: Are you saying whatever leak, that was wrong? GARY CONDIT: I don't think they should have leaked anything.
KING: Once it was leaked...
GARY CONDIT: Well, they should -- but law enforcement shouldn't go around leaking information. I mean, I asked law enforcement -- I said, you know, I'm getting calls in my office about a variety of leaks that you guys are letting out. And they told me, said look, our department is leaking like a sieve. I mean, they were making up stories that just had no truth to it at all.
KING: But some leaks are truthful.
GARY CONDIT: Well, some leaks may have some element of truth to them, and some leaks may not have any element of truth at all.
But the fact is, what's this leaking all about? Seems to me when you leak, you end up hurting your case.
KING: Of course. But once it's leaked -- if something were leaked about me by a -- and I read in the paper, "law enforcement said Larry King said," my first thing would be to go on the air and say, hey, I didn't do this; or I did do this, let me explain it to you. If the leak hurts me, I have to respond to it.
GARY CONDIT: Well, you know what, I've heard you say that a couple times to my kids when they were on here. And you might think that's what you would do. But I guarantee the first thing you'd do is pick up the phone and call you attorney to see what it is you should do, because it's a legal matter. It's not a public relations matter. This was not about me. This was about a missing person.
KING: But it became about you.
GARY CONDIT: No, you could go all over the country Larry, and you could be saying things that end up hurting the case.
I didn't know that something I might say or do would end up hurting the case. It could hurt the case. So -- and beside that, what was I to do? Was I going to respond to every leak and every rumor and every innuendo? I would have been on forever.
KING: But a leak that says you had a physical relationship with this girl is a very damaging leak that requires a response, because if you don't respond, it's like -- it looks like a duck and it acts like a duck, it's probably a duck.
I mean, can't you see the public -- perception is reality? If the public...
GARY CONDIT: I understand perception is reality. And I understand that politics is reality.
But the fact of the matter is that -- you know, if you want to play this the way everybody always plays it, that's fine. But I didn't think that I needed to go around responding to leaks or rumors or innuendoes or hearsay or half-truths.
KING: So you don't think that even now?
GARY CONDIT: No I don't. No, I don't.
KING: So you don't think that you owe the public any explanation of the relationship beyond what we presume to know?
GARY CONDIT: I've been out campaigning for the last few months. I have the public come up to me all the time. They ask me a variety of different questions; I answer every question that they have. And I'd be delighted to do that.
But to respond and to hold a news conference to every innuendo or rumor or hearsay or whatever -- no, I don't think that's appropriate.
KING: So whatever questions we ask, you'll answer?
GARY CONDIT: Pardon?
KING: Whatever questions we ask, you'll answer.
GARY CONDIT: Sure. Yes. But the only thing I ask you to do is respect the answer.
KING: Of course. I mean. this ain't a court.
GARY CONDIT: That's my point: You're not the court and you're not the church.
KING: I'm not the court.
Congressman Gary Condit, Democrat of California, 18th district. The primary is a week from tomorrow.
We'll be back with more. Don't go away.
KING: OK. Let's run through a bunch of questions.
GARY CONDIT: All right. Go.
KING: "Sacramento Bee" said you financially have to run, you need the money. You have no wealth, no other job to fall back on, have a pension coming.
GARY CONDIT: Well, actually...
KING: True or false?
GARY CONDIT: No. You know, I'm not a pretentious man, I'm a healthy man. I can do all kinds of work. I mean, I'm not afraid of work. I've never thought about what I would do if I wouldn't run. KING: Do you get your pension?
GARY CONDIT: Pardon.
KING: Do you get a pension?
GARY CONDIT: No. I wouldn't qualify for a pension.
KING: What qualifies?
GARY CONDIT: You have got to be so many years and a certain age. It's pretty much to the same as...
KING: So you don't qualify, even with...
GARY CONDIT: Well, actually, at some time, when I reach a certain age. I'm still a pretty young guy.
KING: So you mean like it's around 60 or 65? So that's not...
GARY CONDIT: No, that's just -- see, that's just some more, you know...
KING: Did you have a relationship with Chandra Levy?
GARY CONDIT: You know, we're not going to go into that. I mean, you know, I'm not going to talk about Chandra Levy and I'm not going to say anything that would -- do anything to hurt or...
KING: Why not say no?
GARY CONDIT: I'm just not going to get into that.
KING: All right.
I'll tell you the reaction that -- I'm just giving you a straight reaction. I got no opinion. This show has no agenda. I would imagine a person sitting at home hearing a question like that would say, I'd say no if it's no and I'd say yes if it's yes. But when I say I'm not going to answer it, it means yes.
GARY CONDIT: Yes, but there is a whole bunch of people sitting at home saying it's none of my business. You know, there's a whole bunch of people who believe that it's none of my business. And what does that have to do with this tragedy? This is about a tragedy. It's not about me, Larry. And the media needs to focus on this. There is a missing person and somebody knows what happened. And to focus on me, all this attention on Gary Condit. I had nothing to do with her disappearance. But all this attention on me and it takes away from the seriousness, just the seriousness of -- it's a tragedy. It's about a missing person and somebody knows and somebody knows what happened. So, I mean -- there's people who are going to think all kinds of things, but the fact of the matter is there are a whole bunch of people who think it's none of their business. KING: But you're -- it technically is nobody's business except you got to run for reelection. You're asking the people to vote for you. They could vote against you.
GARY CONDIT: Sure.
KING: But it also might help if you're a public official, you're paid by the public. This obviously ensnarls you. It might help to come on and say here's how much I knew about her and here's the way I developed with her and here's what happened with her and this may help find her. In other words, any information you can give can't hurt. How would it hurt?
GARY CONDIT: Look, look, look, this has been the most publicized disappearing probably that's ever occurred, right?
KING: Most famous missing person.
GARY CONDIT: Right. So we're going into eight, nine, months.
KING: But it's the most famous person. There's a lot of missing people.
GARY CONDIT: Absolutely. Matter of fact, I've had mothers call my office and say, Mr. Condit, can you get some attention on my child? No one has ever publicized that they're missing. Matter of fact, we got a call in Washington, D.C. one day when all the cameras were sitting outside. And a woman called out of the D.C. area and said no one's ever reported, no one's ever been on TV.
So, one of my staffpeople walked out and asked the reporters if they wanted to talk to her. They laughed because it didn't have a good enough hook or a good enough angle or scandal or something to it. This is not about a scandal, Larry. This is about a missing person. It's serious. It's not like a -- you know, people want to make this into some romantic novel. It's not a romantic novel. It's a tragedy and the fact is it's gotten all this attention and you don't know anymore than you knew eight months ago and I don't know anymore than I did eight months ago. So I don't know why the heat's not on the authorities back on the East Coast.
KING: Would you agree if you were a citizen and a famous person or an elected official was involved with a missing person in some way or other, that you would be interested and be suspicious about the involvement and how it might relate to the missing? Would you admit that you would be curious?
GARY CONDIT: The only thing I would want to know is has he fully cooperated with the authorities.
KING: That's all you'd want to know?
GARY CONDIT: Yes, absolutely, because I know that that's what you're supposed to.
KING: And if he had a relationship, that's his own business. GARY CONDIT: Well, that's irrelevant to anything else.
KING: You voted for the impeachment of President Clinton.
GARY CONDIT: No. See, you're buying into the media.
KING: You didn't vote for the...
GARY CONDIT: No. I voted three times not to impeach Clinton. See, you're repeating...
KING: They wrote that...
GARY CONDIT: No, no. Now, you're...
KING: You never voted to impeach?
GARY CONDIT: Never. And this is what the problem with the media is.
KING: Did you feel that was none of your business?
GARY CONDIT: I absolutely felt it was none of my business. I felt that that was none of my business. I don't think that we should have been holding him up to impeachment on those charges. I voted three times not to impeach President Clinton. You've said it on the air that I voted impeaching.
KING: It was printed, yes.
GARY CONDIT: I've had -- well, yes, but that's echo journalism. I mean, they've written 7,000 stories and there's over hundreds of factual errors in those stories. And I can't go around and correct them all. But it just seems to me that people ought to focus on what this is. This is not a romantic novel. It's not some silly little game. It's not about people profiteering from a tragedy. It's about a missing person and we ought to find out what happened to Chandra.
KING: How did you feel when the Levys, appearing on this show and others, on this show, saying they thought you were involved and they were deeply hurt and angry that you didn't talk to them or talked to them briefly and never contacted them again, and said to them you didn't have a relationship and they think you did. How did you feel?
GARY CONDIT: Obviously, I feel a tremendous amount of pain for the Levys and for the way they feel or the way they must feel. But the fact is is that I called the Levys on several occasions. I've called them several months ago. Members of my family have called them several months ago. We have been rebuffed by Mr. And Mrs. Levy.
KING: They won't take your calls.
GARY CONDIT: They don't want to call. As a matter of fact, they had Billy Martin send me a letter...
KING: Their lawyer. GARY CONDIT: Yes, saying that we shouldn't contact them. So we've reached out every time. I mean, matter of fact, I mean, it's sort of forgotten, but Mr. Levy called me when the Washington police department, he didn't think, was moving fast enough. So I interceded for him. I then set up in a few days a reward fund. You know, I did all kinds of things. I talked to them several times on the phone.
But I wouldn't not do anything, to say -- I wouldn't say anything that would cause them hurt or harm. I don't want to do that. I just don't want to do that. I know they're grieving. I just don't want to do that. But I have reached out as much as I can. I mean, they told me not to do that. They want this to go through their attorneys. And that's fine, I respect that. I respect the way they feel. I just wouldn't do anything to hurt them.
KING: Back with more of Congressman Gary Condit. We will be including your phone calls. Tomorrow night, Diane Sawyer will be here. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN LEVY, MOTHER OF CHANDRA LEVY: What surprised me is I said: Mr. Gary Condit, my daughter's missing and do you happen to know where she is? And I think I remember asking him whether he had an affair with her.
LEVY: And he says, no, I only have a professional relationship with her. I says, oh, what do you mean? Well, she asked me about law school and about the FBI, and I suggested her to take a possible second language in Spanish would help her in a career. So he point blankly asked him if he was having an affair. And, you know, matter of factly he said no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is that conversation correct?
GARY CONDIT: Well, like I said, I don't want to say anything to hurt the Levys, but the conversation was a little different, as I remember it. But I'm not going to get into it. I just don't want to say anything that would hurt them. They're hurt enough, and I'm just not going to do that.
KING: Linda Zamsky (ph) the aunt, as you know, has come on and said that Chandra told her there was an affair, that she had something important to tell her about -- might have been pregnant or something that Chandra was either worried or overly happy about something. How did you make the whole Linda Zamsky story?
GARY CONDIT: I just -- it was unbelievable.
KING: Because? GARY CONDIT: Well, I just -- I mean, the accusations of some of the things that were said were just unbelievable. I never heard any of that. What she said was new to me.
KING: So you never knew whether she was pregnant or not?
GARY CONDIT: No.
KING: She could have been?
GARY CONDIT: Don't know.
KING: Don't know. Did you know Linda?
GARY CONDIT: No.
KING: Did she ever talk about Linda?
GARY CONDIT: No.
KING: So that was all mystery to you? At that time --
GARY CONDIT: Then there were a lot of things she said that were kind of a mystery to me.
KING: When Linda appeared, wouldn't you think that you would go on -- I mean, they're giving her attention -- you would go on and say wait a minute, I don't know this lady and that's all untrue. Why wouldn't any person do that who didn't do anything wrong?
GARY CONDIT: Well, once again --
KING: If I didn't do anything wrong, I'm out there, man.
GARY CONDIT: Yes. Well, there were a lot of things that she said, that people asked me that I said didn't happen, you know. It just didn't happen that way at all. But I'm not going to hold a news conference every other day and deny -- I mean, it's her one day and somebody else the other day, and then the "Washington Post" another day, and somebody else another day. And I'm just not going to engage in that.
KING: And someone called to say that you did say about Clinton is that he should be forthcoming?
GARY CONDIT: No.
KING: You never said that about him...
GARY CONDIT: No.
KING: ... and Monica Lewinsky?
GARY CONDIT: No, no. What I said was when the Republicans were leaking the report, they were drip, dripping the report, the Starr Report, some of us said that we should just release the whole report, because they're going to release it all anyway, just don't do it a week at a time so you're embarrassing the president.
You know, people want to make this into something else. I mean that's --
KING: There's nothing hypocritical here? You never criticized Clinton or --
GARY CONDIT: No. Actually, as a matter of fact, I talked to the president on several occasions. And I never did that. I -- that's just, you know, they want it to be that way. There's people --
KING: Do you think that was a story that we shouldn't have known about? The Monica Lewinsky-Clinton story?
GARY CONDIT: Well, I think it could have -- I think it went in a direction it probably shouldn't have gone.
KING: Do you have any scenario on Chandra's missing?
GARY CONDIT: No.
KING: None at all?
GARY CONDIT: None. And I think the appropriate place to ask, you should be asking the police department that. You should be asking the FBI that. Do they have any scenario? And, you know, the fact of the matter is the news media, the only person they know for sure that they talked to is me, and they've talked to a lot of people. It just seems to me the media would know more if they're that interested in it.
KING: As you know her, would she be the type who would run away?
GARY CONDIT: Well, it wouldn't be my -- I wouldn't say that, I mean I wouldn't suggest that she would run away.
KING: So something harmful happened to her?
GARY CONDIT: Well, I don't know if it's harmful, something happened to her and somebody knows what happened to her. And just -- I mean I just don't think she left.
KING: When you see theories offered like Dominic Dunn gets contacted by someone who thinks a motorcycle picked her up? A friend --
GARY CONDIT: That guy is just unbelievable. He just makes up stuff. Just absolutely makes it up with no evidence. And you let him come on here and make up stuff. He just made it up, Larry.
KING: Well, he's covered a lot of trials and crimes. He said he got a call from somebody in Germany. GARY CONDIT: You know how many times I've been through that Larry? Where people say, you know, they got this theory. He just has theories --
KING: Do you think at all --
GARY CONDIT: And actually he put me in his theories -- for absolutely --
KING: That you had a sex ring or something.
GARY CONDIT: That is just unbelievable, I mean, for him to be able to do that and have no evidence. He has no information. He has zero, zilch facts on that.
KING: Do you think, congressman, I mean you've got a wonderful family, they've been on with us. I just met your wife here tonight. Do you think if you had been -- this is in retrospect -- more forceful sooner, forceful in two ways: one, coming on to plead to find her, looking more aggravated, looking more sad, I'm talking about perception now. Maybe not a press conference every day but out there.
GARY CONDIT: Sure.
KING: Do you think that --
GARY CONDIT: If it would have helped find Chandra, I would have done it. I mean, if I thought that would have helped Chandra, I would have had done it. I would have had no problems doing it. I thought what I was doing was the appropriate thing to do is to help law enforcement. I thought it was on the up and up that they were going to go out and find her. I mean I really thought any day they would find her.
KING: You took a line detector test, right, of your own?
GARY CONDIT: Correct.
KING: But you refused to take one conducted by -- is that true or am I wrong?
GARY CONDIT: Well, my attorney advised that I should do a series of things, which I did, that we thought would be helpful. And I did that, I did take a lie detector --
KING: Are there any regrets over the attorney?
GARY CONDIT: No, I mean, you make a choice. Abbey was -- he tried hard. I mean, he tried. He tried really hard to -- I wasn't the easiest guy to handle.
KING: Because you weren't?
GARY CONDIT: Well, because I think in politics, and I think you're suggesting it, too, there's these cookie cutter approaches to everything. I mean, you know, you do this and this is how you maneuver out of a P.R. situation, and I just didn't do that. I didn't want to do that. I thought this was about a tragedy, it was not about a scandal. It was not about me, it was about a missing person that the law enforcement people ought to find and they ought to find quickly.
KING: So it was not material whether you had a relationship or not. The fact, what you're saying is, she was missing. Whether you had a relationship with her...
GARY CONDIT: Right.
KING: ... is immaterial to whether she was missing, unless they had --
GARY CONDIT: The only thing that was -- The only thing that was relevant was if I had any information that would help the law enforcement people maybe find out her lifestyle or find out about her, and I did all that. I did everything that I knew about her, I told them.
KING: We'll be taking calls for Gary Condit. And it must be -- I think the thing that may have hurt you the most in all this was why you took a gift of a watch to another city to throw it away. What happened?
GARY CONDIT: Oh, that watch box thing.
KING: What happened?
GARY CONDIT: You know, there's good and bad about that watch box thing. I can't throw the trash away at my house anymore. I happen to do the dishes, but I can't throw the trash away.
KING: That's a fair thing to ask. Why did you do that?
GARY CONDIT: Well, actually, you know, the watch box had nothing to do with Chandra. I mean, I cleaned out my desk and the tabloids were going through all my trash. As they may go through your trash from time to time. So I threw it in a trash can. I didn't drive somewhere particular to throw it away. I just -- the first trash can that came along, I through it in a trash can with some garbage. And we stopped, as a matter of fact, my wife was in Washington, we stopped at Five Guys restaurant, we got some food to take home. Me and another gentleman and we were taking it home and I said pull over, I'm going to throw this trash away. And I threw it away, and Larry --
KING: Your wife was with you?
GARY CONDIT: No, she wasn't with me. Another gentleman was with me. As soon as I threw it in the garbage can, it wasn't a dumpster or anything. It was just a garbage can on the street. There was a guy who ran up beside my car and dove in the garbage can. I could see his legs hanging out. Now, he was with the tabloids. That watch box story came from the tabloids.
KING: Did the watch have any meaning?
GARY CONDIT: None.
KING: It was a gift from a friend -- a girlfriend?
GARY CONDIT: It just -- it had no meaning. It was just in my desk. In congress when you move from office to office, one of the things that goes with you from every office you move into, as you move around offices is your desk. So, you know, I never cleaned my desk out, But what I did, Larry, was I cleaned my desk out simply because I knew people were going through -- you know -- they wanted photographs of my family. I cleared all the family photos out, all the letters that I had from -- you know -- both presidents, from Bush -- President Bush, President Clinton, Al Gore. All those people I had in my desk, I took everything out, put them in a file under lock and key. Because I just didn't want the tabloids to end up with those letter. So -- and I saw them going through my garbage at my -- where I live in Washington, D.C. I mean, I actually saw them talk to the garbage men about going through my garbage. So that's what that was about, it had nothing to do with anything.
KING: Can we say by then you realized, you were a story?
GARY CONDIT: Well, yes. I thought it was no big deal but at least...
GARY CONDIT: ... I don't have to carry out the garbage anymore.
KING: We'll take a break and we'll be back with more of Congressman Gary Condit. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LARRY KING LIVE, AUGUST 15, 2001)
KING: When your wife makes a statement like, if he didn't meet her, she'd have graduated, she'd be here...
BOB LEVY, FATHER OF CHANDRA LEVY: Yes.
KING: Two plus two equals...
B. LEVY: None of this would have gone on, I mean, if...
KING: So you think he was somehow involved?
B. LEVY: Well, because he was involved with her and she was there and waiting around and, you know, and -- you know...
KING: So somehow involved with her disappearance. Is that your feeling?
LEVY: Well, I do have deep suspicions about that.
KING: You do. And you do, too?
S. LEVY: I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And that would pain me man.
GARY CONDIT: It does. It does. I mean, but I have to accept, you know, they're grieving. I have to accept, you know, what -- their feelings. And it saddens me greatly.
KING: Do you think they're sad over the fact that they think there was a physical relationship? You think that's hurting them? That's a big part of this missing thing -- the pain?
GARY CONDIT: I've heard different statements from them on different times about that issue, so -- but I don't know that.
KING: What do fellow members of Congress say to you?
GARY CONDIT: Well, most members of Congress -- not most, but there are a lot of members of Congress who would come up to me and, you know, before I made a decision to run and say, you got to run, and you got to win.
GARY CONDIT: Because if you don't, we'll never have a life. I mean, they can always -- there's no boundaries; they'll always be able to invade our lives.
And so, you know, not everyone agreed with that. But a lot of members did. I mean, they understood this. They understood that in some ways, you know, I was taking a principled position, that there are boundaries.
But, you know, and then there are members who criticize and wish that I'd have handled it a different way.
KING: Were you disappointed about Gray Davis?
GARY CONDIT: Gray Davis and I -- the governor and I go back a long way. And he made a comment about being more forthcoming after the Connie Chung interview. And, you know, I was disappointed because I've seen him do some pretty bad interviews and I've never criticized him. So, you know, but...
KING: Were you sad -- disappointed? Your daughter quit working for him. Your son quit.
GARY CONDIT: Yes, he's probably upset because I took his two best staff people away from him. But no, it's just politics. And I understand that.
KING: Nancy Pelosi, too?
GARY CONDIT: No, Nancy's hung with me. I mean, I've asked Nancy, you know, to not be involved. But Nancy Pelosi's a very important person.
KING: But she withdrew her endorsement.
GARY CONDIT: I asked her to.
KING: You asked her to.
GARY CONDIT: I asked her to.
GARY CONDIT: I asked because the media was hounding anyone that would endorse me. And she came out and endorsed me. She had been to my district and done a fund-raiser.
And Nancy Pelosi, in my opinion, will be one of the great politicians of this country. She'll be one of the great people -- one of the most important politicians in the country for the next few years. I would do nothing to cause her any problems and start her off on the wrong track.
So I asked her -- Bob Matsui, who -- from Sacramento -- was just very honorable. I asked them all to stay out of this. Let the people at home make that decision.
KING: Why have you not commented on Anne Marie Smith, the flight attendant?
GARY CONDIT: It's all tabloid stuff. I mean, that's...
KING: But she had all this apparent evidence. I mean, she...
GARY CONDIT: Well, she says she has evidence. But, you know, that's just all tabloid stuff.
KING: All right, what is the story from your viewpoint?
GARY CONDIT: It's tabloid. It's, you know, she has...
KING: You don't know her?
GARY CONDIT: ... nothing to do with Chandra Levy.
No, I know who she is. But it's all -- it has nothing to do with Chandra Levy. And many of the people around those tabloid stories got paid, Larry. They got paid; they got money. And I -- when did getting paid become mainstream journalism?
KING: By the way, if it were bad -- let's say, and "bad" would be you had a relationship, it's painful to your wife and family. In this day and time a lot of people are helped by coming on and saying, you know, I made some mistakes; I goofed. I had this thing, I had some weaknesses.
Bill Clinton did it pretty good. Did you ever think about being forthcoming if there were any relationship -- and you did say that you've -- nobody's perfect, right? OK.
GARY CONDIT: Well, it's obvious I didn't do a perfect interview with Connie Chung.
KING: Would it have helped, do you think, if there were things like that, to come forward?
GARY CONDIT: Absolutely. I think you should, when you make mistakes, admit that you've made mistakes. And I think that's perfectly fine. I think you make a great point.
But if you make mistakes, you should know who you're supposed to admit them to. I mean, the fact of the matter is...
KING: So you made a mistake with Anne Marie Smith, you owe it to your wife.
GARY CONDIT: You owe it to your family, your wife, your church, your God. Those things are the -- is the important -- I mean, no disrespect to you, but you're not the church, you know, you're not the synagogue. It's not the place to do that, in my opinion. My humble opinion...
KING: The other side would be: Once the public hears something, it doesn't hurt sometimes to come forward, because you're human and people react.
GARY CONDIT: Well, they know you're human. I mean, we're all human.
KING: Temptation is a thing in front of everybody every day.
GARY CONDIT: We're all human nature. There's a divine nature and there's a human nature, and they're always struggling with each other. And we're more human than we are divine. All of us. There's no one who misses that, Larry.
And so I -- you know, but I think that probably where we have a little bit of a disagreement here is, I don't think it's appropriate in every case, every time you make a mistake in life, you don't have to call a news conference, even if you are elected. You don't owe that. I mean, what you owe that to is, if you make a mistake, you should go to the person you made the mistake against, and that's who you should ask for forgiveness.
KING: And if you have, that Has been privately dealt with?
GARY CONDIT: Well, yes. I've made mistakes, and I've admitted them. KING: Sacramento, as we take a call for Congressman Condit. Hello.
KING: Hi. Go ahead.
CALLER: I just wanted to tell Mr. Condit that I believe that if you had just answered the question about the woman, that would have been the end of it because I know he had nothing to do with it. I've been watching him since the 1980s, he's been a good Congressman. He fought my Willie Brown, yes. But you know what, he was a fun guy to watch. And I believe he's innocent.
KING: OK, you don't have a question then?
A lot of people supporting you like that?
GARY CONDIT: Yes. Everywhere we go we hear comments like that.
KING: We'll be right back with Congressman Gary Condit. Some more phone calls. Then even another surprise. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Congressman Gary Condit. By the way, the lady -- the call was kicking in and out on me. While she praised you and everything, she did know with all your service and everything, and she's a fan of yours, why didn't you answer the questions? She was confused about why you didn't just come forward and answer it.
GARY CONDIT: Right. Well, see, I think I did answer the question. Some people just don't like the answer.
KING: When you say not perfect, you're referring to what?
GARY CONDIT: Well, I don't think any of us are perfect. I mean, I don't think you're perfect. I don't think anyone's perfect. It's the human nature inside of us that we're flawed people and we all make mistakes. And people made light of the fact when I said I'm not a perfect man. But that's, you know, that's just the absolute truth.
KING: Were you implying infidelity or not referring to anything?
GARY CONDIT: I wasn't being specific. I mean, I was acknowledging the fact that I've not been a perfect man. You know, we've all sinned or come short and, you know, I have. And I've asked for forgiveness every time I have. But there's lots of ways we commit sins.
KING: How has your wife dealt with all this? She's here tonight. She's suing the "National Enquirer".
GARY CONDIT: That she is, and I'm very proud of her. Well, my wife is doing well. I've known my wife -- I've known Carolyn since we were 15 years old. When we were 18 years old, we had a couple hundred bucks and pretty shortly had a small child and we started our life together and we've had a lot of bumpy roads, you know, going to school, raising children and doing all the things. But she's doing great. She's very strong and she's very tenacious.
KING: The lawsuit is over they wrote something that she said, that she didn't say, right?
GARY CONDIT: Yes, the -- well, I don't know that I should discuss it. But it's about one of the tabloids who made some accusations that are just not true and she's calling them on it and good for her.
KING: Mobile, Alabama. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, hi. My question for Mr. Condit is after all of the poor media coverage you've received in the last year, how do you intend to change your relationship with the media and your constituents? And do you feel that your reputation has been tarnished beyond saving?
GARY CONDIT: Well, the first thing I'm doing is, obviously, I'm in an election. And I think that if the voters in my district focus in on my record of 30 years and my public service in the Congress, that will be a big step to remind people of all the good things that I've done. And I do think the media has tarnished my reputation. I do think that I have got to figure out a way to figure out how to work with it. I'll confess, I'm certainly not the best media person in the world.
KING: After all these years.
GARY CONDIT: My P.R. people now are working for Ken Lay, so you can tell we're not the best in the world.
KING: Do you have Enron stock?
GARY CONDIT: I have no Enron stock. No.
KING: Canton, Ohio. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. Mr. Condit, if you could, to set the record straight completely right now, is there anything that you could say or do to look directly into the camera to completely set the record straight right now? You got the floor.
KING: OK. He's giving you the floor. Is there anything you would say, add?
GARY CONDIT: No. No. I've said pretty much everything. You know, I've said it over and over again. I had nothing to do with the disappearance of Chandra Levy, not one single thing.
KING: Well, you said you were trying to reach the Levys. They didn't take your call. I guess maybe it's none of our business what you would have said to them, but what were you calling about? GARY CONDIT: Well, actually, the last time I called, my son called. I had told him that I -- after 9/11, I had called the law enforcement people in Washington D.C. and asked if they could give us a briefing or give me a briefing on the status of the case. I had not heard from them for quite a while and I didn't want the -- I didn't want 9/11 to allow, you know, because it's such a big issue that I didn't want the case itself to fall through the cracks. So I asked to be briefed by them and he was just informing them of that and that's when...
KING: Are they making any progress?
GARY CONDIT: They wouldn't -- they refused to give me...
KING: They won't tell you?
GARY CONDIT: They wouldn't tell me.
KING: Where were you on 9/11, by the way?
GARY CONDIT: I was in Washington D.C.
KING: How did you hear about it?
GARY CONDIT: I was watching it on television.
KING: Do you remember your first reaction?
GARY CONDIT: It just broke my heart. I mean, my heart was hurting already from going through this tragedy, but it just broke my heart.
KING: You're on the intelligence committee?
GARY CONDIT: Yes, I am.
KING: We'll take a break and be back and add a couple people to the panel. Don't go away.
KING: Congressman Gary Condit remains. And joining us now are his two children who have appeared on this program. They are Cadee Condit, his daughter, and Chad Condit, his son, both of whom worked for Gray Davis, both of whom quit. How did you feel when they quit?
GARY CONDIT: You know, these are -- I don't know that I can ever repay these two. They're such honorable people. And, you know, they're just good fighters and I'm just so proud of them. And I don't know that I can ever repay them. I felt sad but also I felt very proud that they took a principled position.
KING: Have they ever asked you what we've been asking you?
GARY CONDIT: I've had discussions with both of them.
KING: How has he answered you -- does he answer to you your satisfaction, Katie?
CADEE CONDIT, GARY CONDIT'S DAUGHTER: Absolutely, yes.
KING: Not affected any feeling you have toward him?
CADEE CONDIT: No, not at all.
CHAD CONDIT, GARY CONDIT'S SON: I've never asked.
KING: You never asked?
CHAD CONDIT: No. I told you that the other night.
KING: I know. I'm just repeating. I forget sometimes. We've done a lot of interviews since you were on.
CHAD CONDIT: Yes, sir.
By the way, I get this asked a lot, why do you call him Gary?
CADEE CONDIT: I started it.
CHAD CONDIT: Cadee started it. I mean, I just picked up on...
KING: Why? What about dad?
CADEE CONDIT: I do that too. I do both.
CHAD CONDIT: I call him Congressman, dad, Gary.
KING: Congressman, too. That's really official.
CADEE CONDIT: Depends what kind of mood we're in.
GARY CONDIT: Well, it's -- you know, one of the things I think is that when -- they both work for the governor, so it would be -- there would be times when we would be in meetings together or I would be in the governor's office. And so I think they were trying to be professional. You know, that's the way I took it. You know, not to say, well, hey, daddy, or hey, dad, you know. So they were -- but they've always been respectful no matter if they've called me Gary or dad or Congressman. It's always been in the tone of respect.
KING: You felt good when they quit, though, on that kind of...
GARY CONDIT: Well, I hated to see them lose their jobs. You know, they were very -- they had good jobs and they, I think, helped the governor immensely. I think they were the ones who put him in a good position in the central valley of California.
So I felt bad about it; but at the same time I was very proud that...
KING: Do you ever feel you put them on the spot? GARY CONDIT: There are times when I feel like the whole spotlight is on all my family, you know, my mom and dad.
KING: And it makes you feel bad?
GARY CONDIT: Yes, yes, sometimes.
KING: Your father?
GARY CONDIT: Yes, everybody. But they've all risen to the challenge. I mean, they're all ready.
CADEE CONDIT: Mr. King, we get to see our dad do what he always taught us to do. He's fighting back, he's standing up for himself. So that's neat to see as a kid. He's done a great job, and we're doing this as a unit.
KING: You obviously love your father.
CADEE CONDIT: Very much.
KING: Doesn't he disappoint you at all?
CADEE CONDIT: No.
KING: Not at all.
CADEE CONDIT: Well, I get mad at him sometimes, you know, when he doesn't make the calls I need him to make.
KING: Do you feel embittered at all?
CHAD CONDIT: No, not at all; no. This is just the adjustment that's been made in our life, and we're going to go through it.
KING: And your mom feels the same way?
CHAD CONDIT: Yes, mom -- let me say, you brought up the lawsuit. Amen for Carolyn. I mean, this tabloid distorted...
KING: The "Enquirer," right?
CHAD CONDIT: Yes. The "National Enquirer" distorted who she was. I mean, people -- we shouldn't be able to -- we shouldn't allow that in this country. I don't know what we have to do.
But I'm just proud of her. I mean...
KING: It was a phone call between Carolyn in which -- Carolyn had a phone call in which she attacked Chandra.
CHAD CONDIT: Yes, it was totally ridiculous, and out of bounds.
KING: Take a call. Modesto, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Mr. Condit, I have a question. Of the -- you stated in the "New York Times" that if you were reelected that you would be able to help the Levys. What is it that you could do then that you couldn't help them with now?
GARY CONDIT: Well, actually what I said in the "New York Times" to the "New York Times" reporter was that I did not want this case to go away. We have never asked people not to mention Chandra Levy in the campaign, during interviews, or anything. We think that if it's out there and it's helpful for her to be mentioned. And it helps find her, then that's fine with us.
And so what I'm -- the only thing I said was that I would make sure that this case, if I'm in Washington, D.C., doesn't fall through the cracks. It's not the only missing persons case that the Washington police department is working on. They have a pretty high percentage of not being able to find people. They have a pretty high homicide rate.
So if I'm there, I can guarantee you I want to make sure that we have resolvement (sic) of this case. It's touched my life. I know the parents need to have some resolvement (sic) to this. They need to know what happened and who did what to Chandra.
So all I'm saying is that, you know, I have nothing to lose. I'll challenge the law enforcement people to keep this on the front burner, not to let the case go cold.
And that's what I'll do. I'm trying to do that right now. But I will continue to do that, because it's touched me. It's absolutely touched me and my family. And I want to do it for the Levy family, but also want to do it for my own.
KING: By the way, did she have a good future? Was she smart?
GARY CONDIT: Very smart, very bright, very ambitious.
KING: She would have done well?
GARY CONDIT: She would have done very well.
KING: Was she interested in government work?
GARY CONDIT: She wanted to go in government work. She wanted to be a CIA agent or an FBI agent or something like that. But she wanted to be in government work.
KING: You're not working now, Cadee?
CADEE CONDIT: I'm working for him.
CHAD CONDIT: And I'm volunteering for the campaign.
CADEE CONDIT: "Volunteer" is a better word.
KING: So you have no income?
CADEE CONDIT: A little one. KING: Are you -- what do you plan to do after the election?
CADEE CONDIT: I'm going to help him get reelected in November.
KING: And if that occurs, are you going to go work for him in Washington?
CADEE CONDIT: No, I don't know. I haven't decided yet.
CHAD CONDIT: I think that you can't.
GARY CONDIT: No, you can't hire your relatives.
CHAD CONDIT: Right, for the federal government.
GARY CONDIT: It's a tremendous loss for me, but I can't hire them on the payroll.
CHAD CONDIT: Do you have an in at the governor's office?
KING: You want to go back?
CHAD CONDIT: No, I don't...
KING: Are you supporting Governor Davis?
CHAD CONDIT: I haven't decided who I'm going to endorse in the governor's race. We're looking at all the candidates.
KING: You might endorse Mayor Riordan or somebody?
CHAD CONDIT: We'll consider -- we don't know who's going to win the primary. And we'll see what...
KING: But he doesn't have a primary opponent, does he, Gray Davis?
CHAD CONDIT: I don't know, I haven't checked.
KING: Are you going to support him?
GARY CONDIT: I'm going to -- you know, the governor and I go way back. I'm going to -- we'll resolve our differences. Whatever they are, we'll eventually...
KING: You're going to support him, aren't you?
GARY CONDIT: I'm not saying that. But we're going to resolve our differences. You know, California is a very important state. It's important that we have the right people at the head of the ticket. It's important we have the right governor in office. We've got big problems in California.
So I'm going to do my best to resolve, you know, whatever problems have I have with the governor. I consider him a friend, so that's not a problem. KING: And just to sum up, when you called the police after September 11, they didn't tell you anything, right?
GARY CONDIT: Right.
KING: And you're open to still talk to them if they want to talk to you?
GARY CONDIT: Right. Well, I'm not going to take no for an answer. I mean, we're going to continually insist that they give us some updates.
I mean, there are some other people that are missing. And there are some from California that are closed cases, you know, that they just sort of set on the shelf.
And I know they have a big problem in Washington, D.C. I clearly get that. I'm not trying to just, you know, jam them up. But we do deserve some response.
KING: Did she have any enemies you knew about?
GARY CONDIT: No. Nobody.
KING: Hello. Somewhere in Tennessee, hello. Kingston, Tennessee. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question is for Gary Condit.
KING: Yes, go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, I'm wondering how he plans to win the public's trust when he is so evasive in answering questions.
GARY CONDIT: The public will have to decide whether or not they like the answers to my questions. And we're out every day mixing it up with the public. We don't shy away from any questions they ask.
KING: But if they ask it -- you don't shy, but if they ask if you had an affair, you don't tell them.
GARY CONDIT: If my constituents come up and ask me questions, I answer they.
KING: But you don't tell them, do you?
GARY CONDIT: I'll tell -- anything they ask me, I answer their questions. If they need to know an answer, I give them a question (sic). But I'm not going around doing news, you know, broadcast about personal lives of people.
KING: Nor do you discuss your personal life with your constituents. You think that that's not -- you said earlier...
GARY CONDIT: Well, you know, we -- no one has really been...
KING: Asked that?
GARY CONDIT: No, they don't focus on that. As a matter of fact, I just think the public is way ahead of the media. The media doesn't get this, that this is about a tragedy, a missing person. The public gets it.
KING: We'll know a week from Tuesday.
GARY CONDIT: We will.
KING: Is he going to win?
CADEE CONDIT: I think so.
CHAD CONDIT: He's going to win, and he's going to win in November. He's the only Democrat on the ticket that can win in November.
KING: So a Republican will win if he doesn't get the nomination?
CHAD CONDIT: I can promise you, if he doesn't win Tuesday, the Republicans will win the seat.
KING: Congressman Gary Condit and his daughter Cadee and son Chad. We thank them both very much for being with us.
We've got a heck of a week coming ahead, and we'll tell you all about it right after this.
KING: Tomorrow night: Diane Sawyer of ABC News is our special guest. On Wednesday night, part two of Dr. Phil. He was on with us a couple weeks ago. This will be a brand new segment. Thursday night, Monica Lewinsky. And Friday night, a very frank discussion with Wonder Woman Linda Carter.
We thank you very much for joining us. "NEWSNIGHT" is next from New York.
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