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Congressman Condit Agrees to Take a Lie Detector Test

Aired July 10, 2001 - 18:00   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: First to Washington, where we are following some new developments into the Chandra Levy case. After weeks of appeals from Chandra's parents, Congressman Gary Condit has now agreed to take a lie detector test and submit to DNA testing. Our national correspondent Bob Franken joins us from Washington with the very latest.

Actually, where's Bob? I believe -- Bob is in Washington, Bob is with us. Bob, take it away.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, what is going on right now, Leon, is there is a negotiation going on between the attorneys for Congressman Condit, Abbe Lowell in particular, and police. They say that they want a lie detector test.

There is a discussion going on about whether that will happen and how it will happen, under what circumstances, who will do it, et cetera. There is also going to be an effort to collect DNA, and of course, the police have already gotten an agreement from the Condit attorneys that they could search the congressman's apartment.

Now, we are joined right now by Terrance Gainer, who is the assistant police chief -- it's not your exact title, but it's close enough. Close enough, the assistant police chief of the D.C. police department.

We are giving you a chance to clarify something, which was: earlier, the chief of police, Charles Ramsey, held a news conference, where he seemed to suggest -- and we certainly interpreted it this way -- that there had been other requests to search the apartment. True or untrue?

TERRANCE GAINER, ASSISTANT POLICE CHIEF, WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think there are some miscommunications. He may have been talking about some broader things, but we had never asked to search the apartment up until these recent conversations with the congressman.

bob: Now, what do you mean "broader things?"

GAINER: Well, I mean, the chief was talking about a series of things, about interviews and other information, and I didn't see his whole interview. I just do know that there may be some miscommunication, and it's our opportunity to clear it up: we had not ask to search his apartment prior to just recently.

bob: Well, talk about this search. How thorough will it be? I mean, will they toss the pillows around?

GAINER: Well, they'll be respectful. They are very skilled individuals and they will go in and use the same techniques we do in any other type of detailed search of a building.

bob: This is a detailed search?

GAINER: Yes, it will be.

bob: Now, the people are complaining, various officials are complaining, police officials, the family, that after 10 weeks it's really almost fruitless to do this.

GAINER: I think any time you have an opportunity to gather information, we should do it. The congressman and his attorney have been actually gracious enough to offer, and we're going to take them up on it. And we do know that when you do searching, even long after the incident may have occurred, you can still find some evidence.

bob: What kinds of things might you be looking for?

GAINER: Well, we'll keep an open mind about it, so our people shouldn't go in there with a closed mind. They should be serendipitous and look for what may strike their fancy.

bob: By the way, one thing I want to point out: the attorney for the Levy family, Billy Martin, is expected to make a comment fairly soon. It was the Levy family that really got the ball rolling on the polygraph test, and the police department is saying after Abbe Lowell said that he would discuss this with you. You did this for the family as much as anything else, is that right?

GAINER: Well, I think that the family and others want some finality on this, and if they want to share information, as the congressman needs to do, we are going to take him up on it, see where we go from there.

bob: Now, there was some interesting language -- right now, we have to get Billy Martin. We will listen to him, and you can listen with us, OK?

BILLY MARTIN, ATTORNEY FOR THE LEVY FAMILY: ... not get into having dueling statements between the Levy family and Congressman Condit. This is not about the Levy family and Congressman Condit. We're trying to find Chandra.

We are hopeful that the statements that we've recently heard from the chief of police, that is that they will accept the offer to conduct a search and will accept the offer from Congressman Condit to take a lie detector test, will in some way further the investigation and take down -- excuse me -- cut back on any credibility issues that we feel the congressman has from not coming forward earlier.

It's been 11 weeks. And so, we are glad to have the information, would have liked to have had it 11 weeks ago, but we'll take it now.

Any questions?


MARTIN: Nothing beyond that. But that's a lot, because if he was having an intimate relationship at the end of April, beginning of May, he of all people would know her state of mind. We know that she was upbeat from telephone messages she left, and we would like the congressman to tell us not just when and where he met with her, what they talked about and what was her mood. That could be very powerful in this investigation.

QUESTION: What do you think that the congressman (OFF-MIKE) truthful?

MARTIN: We believe that the congressman was not truthful with the Levys, because Mrs. Levy called the congressman on June 5 or June 6 at a number that she had from Chandra's toll records. The congressman answered the phone, and Mrs. Levy asked the congressman if he was having a relationship. According to Mrs. Levy, the congressman told her no. if that's not accurate, that is not true and that's unfair, and he should correct the record.

Thank you, thank you very much.

QUESTION: There have been questions about Chandra's health, potential medical appointments. Can you clarify -- you know, you've heard the issues of pregnancy, potential pregnancy, and how specifically is the Levy family dealing with these questions going public?

MARTIN: More than the questions going public, the family is going through a living hell. They are missing their daughter. It's been 11 weeks. They don't know where she is. The family is in such pain that the questions don't hurt, and I can tell you that we're not going to answer any of those questions on any evidence. We've turned everything over to the police, and we will not comment on that. Thank you.

Thank you.

FRANKEN: That was Billy Martin for us, the attorney for the Levy family. We are joined, again, by Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer. Let me just ask you about that last item. It's clear that you've gotten the medical records for Chandra Levy, correct?

GAINER: I wouldn't have any comment on that. I think we've got all the information that we're able to get.

bob: As you know, one of the questions that everybody is asking, everybody is speculating on, is there any indication that she was pregnant?

GAINER: Bob, you know, I realize how much everybody would like to have detailed information, but that's just not the way you conduct investigations. And I think Mr. Martin knows that, Mr. Lowell knows that. Probably most of your public realizes that too. There's a lot things this department has done, a lot of things we are doing, a lot of information we've gathered and a lot of things that the congressman has offered, and we are going to take all that and look at it and we'll make the best determination we can.

bob: Now, when the police chief, your boss, Charles Ramsey, was asked whether the congressman, as his attorneys have claimed, has been entirely forthcoming, his answer was interesting: "We've had three interviews to date, it's been that many times that's taken us to get to where we are now." Was he suggesting -- are you suggesting that it was a little bit difficult to get information out of the congressman?

GAINER: I think over time we had more questions and we needed more clarity. And with that third interview, we were able to get the other questions that had arisen and the clarity we needed, and I think we need to look forward from there and not necessarily spend so much time on what happened yesterday.

We need to concentrate that we're not so much -- and we're clearly are not investigating the congressman. We're looking for Chandra Levy, any anybody who can add to our knowledge level about that is something we want to talk to. That's why we talked to the congressman, that's why he's proffering this opportunity for us to get additional information.

bob: Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, thanks so much, Bob Franken in Washington.

Let's now go out to Modesto, California, where Martin Savidge has been standing by -- Marty.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, we wanted to talk about the reaction of the Levy family to the events of this afternoon. We know that Susan Levy was actually attending a luncheon here in Modesto and it wasn't until she was alerted by our telephone call that she was even made aware that the Washington, D.C. police department was about to hold a news conference.

She quickly rushed off to find a television set, and according to Kim Petersen, who is the executive director of the Sund-Carrington Foundation, that's the foundation that's been assisting the Levys, who was with Mrs. Levy -- she said that Susan Levy watched that news conference very intently, but that she did not have any comment during the news conference and did not say anything immediately after it was concluded, and that there were no obvious signs of emotion.

Kim Petersen did say that the family does want to get in touch with their attorney, Billy Martin, who you just saw there a few minutes ago. They want to clarify and find out exactly what is going to take place, and so that is where the family stands at this point.

It is no wonder that they might be a little reticent to respond immediately, because just the fact that Washington, D.C. police are going to talk to the congressman about a lie detector test does not necessarily mean it will indeed happen. The family wants it to happen. This morning, Robert Levy said that as to the search of the apartment, he wished it had been conducted weeks ago. Still, the family very happy any news on anything pertaining to the investigation that might lead to the whereabouts of their missing daughter -- Leon.

HARRIS: Oh, Martin, I don't know if you can answer this, but you're out there in Congressman Condit's district right now. In the past few hours, the past day or so, have you heard any hue and cry out there for the congressman to come out and take a lie detector test, from anyone outside of the Levy family, that is?

SAVIDGE: Well, no, we haven't heard specifically. There have been a few that have said that the congressman should go forward and take that lie detector test. Specifically, though, what they are interested here is not so much about the test but hearing from their congressman himself, giving a full accounting as to what was the relationship and what may have transpired between himself and an intern who is from this area as well.

HARRIS: Thanks very much. Martin Savidge, reporting live this evening from Modesto, California.