A chronology of the Chandra Levy story, updated as news breaks.
The last time anyone saw Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old Washington intern, was on April 30 when she canceled her membership at a gym near her Dupont Circle apartment. Since then, there has been international attention focused on the nature of her relationship with Rep. Gary Condit, a 53-year-old married California Democrat, who has not himself spoken about Levy but has issued a statement through his office that the young woman was a "good friend" and nothing more. Accusations are now being exchanged between Levy's parents and Condit's staff and newly hired lawyer as word comes out that Condit may be preparing to face the media. Here, based on press reports of the case, is a timeline of what we know about Chandra Levy and Gary Condit.
September 2000: Levy arrives in Washington from California to get a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California and to work for six months in the public affairs office of the federal Bureau of Prisons. She had never lived far away from home before. A graduate of San Francisco State University, she grew up in Modesto in California's agricultural Central Valley. Her father is an oncologist and her mother an artist, but since she was a teen-ager, Levy's professional interest has been politics and law enforcement. She has had internships with Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and California Gov. Gray Davis. She talked about possibly becoming an FBI agent.
October 2000: Levy and a friend, fellow USC grad student Jennifer Baker, would sometimes go on what they called, according to the Modesto Bee, "political field trips." The two young women would go to the offices of House members and get their photos taken with representatives. On a whim they arrived one day at the office of Levy's congressman, Gary Condit.
Condit has been a member of the House for 12 years. Condit grew up in Oklahoma, the son of a Baptist minister. He came to Ceres, Calif., as a teen-ager, already married and with an infant son. He worked his way through Stanislaus State and at 24 was elected to the Ceres City Council. That was followed by elections to county supervisor and then the state assembly. His career took a hit in 1988 when he and some colleagues tried unsuccessfully to remove Willie Brown (now mayor of San Francisco) from his post as speaker of the assembly. But then Rep. Tony Coelho resigned from Congress because of accusations of financial impropriety, and Condit won a special election in 1989 and has been re-elected easily ever since.
Condit is one of those people destined to always be described as "boyishly handsome" even though he is now a grandfather. (Both his grown children have worked for Gray Davis.) Condit's wife, Carolyn, is chronically ill and requires frequent hospitalizations. She has never moved to Washington, but he flies to his district most weekends to see her. Condit is a rock fan who jumped into a mosh pit while attending a Pearl Jam concert and a motorcycle rider whose picture has appeared in Easyriders, a raunchy motorcycle magazine. Until recently, Condit was not camera-shy. He also appeared as Mr. June in the "Hunks of the House" calendar, a spoof put together by a congresswoman. In his office, the Los Angeles Times reports, is a wall of 8 x 12 photos of Condit alone in various attire. His nickname is "Mr. Blow-Dry."
The day in October that Levy and Baker showed up, according to the Los Angeles Times, Condit invited the two women to accompany him to the House floor to watch him vote. The three then went back to his office and had a picture taken together. It is the now famous shot of the two women flanking Condit, his arm around each of them, although Condit's lawyer has complained that newspapers have sometimes misleadingly cropped out Baker when they ran the photo. Police found a framed copy of that photo in Levy's apartment when they entered it after her disappearance.
Baker that day talked herself into an unpaid internship with Condit. Then she left, and Levy stayed behind in the congressman's office. During Baker's internship, Levy came by many times to have lunch with her friend, but to Baker's knowledge that initial meeting was the only time Levy ever saw the congressman. According to Condit's office, Levy dropped by about six times over the next six months for things such as tickets to the White House.
November 2000: A relative of Levy's visits her in Washington during Thanksgiving. The two discuss Levy's romantic life, according to the WashingtonPost, a discussion which contradicts the denials later issued by Condit's office about an affair between the intern and the congressman.
December 2000: After visiting her parents in California, Levy returns to Washington. On the 23rd she sends an e-mail to a friend about a secret romance. The ModestoBee reports that the e-mail says, "My man will be coming back when Congress starts up again. I'm looking forward to seeing him" and that she has misled Jennifer Baker about her boyfriend. Levy writes in the e-mail that she told Baker she was dating someone from the FBI so that Baker "wouldn't ask any questions." She said in another e-mail that the man she was seeing paid for her return ticket to D.C. Levy told another friend that she was seeing "someone in politics."
April 2001: During Passover Levy sees the relative who visited during Thanksgiving, and again they discuss Levy's romantic life, reports the Washington Post. The relative tells Susan Levy, Chandra's mother, the news. Susan calls Chandra and asks her if she's been seeing Condit. Susan Levy says Chandra replies, "How did you know?"
Because Levy's internship ends on the 23rd, she talks to her building manager about breaking her lease.
On the 28th, Condit's wife Carolyn makes a rare visit to Washington to attend a gathering of the Congressional Wives Club hosted by Laura Bush. Mrs. Condit stays with her husband at his condo in Adams Morgan, one of Washington's hip neighborhoods, which borders Dupont Circle, until May 3.
On the 29th and 30th, according to the New York Post, Levy calls Condit several times on a number that bypasses his congressional office.
On the 30th, Levy cancels her membership at Washington Sports Club.
May 2001: On the 1st Levy's parents get an e-mail from her saying that she is looking into either flying home or taking a train to be back in time for her graduation from USC on the 11th. At some point she leaves her apartment and takes her house keys. In the apartment are packed suitcases, jewelry, a cell phone, and her purse with her wallet, credit cards, identification. Her refrigerator is mostly empty, except for left-over pasta and peanut butter cups.
May 1 through 5, her parents call to confirm her travel plans, and then when she doesn't respond, they call repeatedly to find out where she is.
On the 5th the Levys first contact the Washington, D.C., police. The next day they call back to report her missing. That evening, feeling the police were brushing them off, Susan Levy calls Condit at his Ceres home, reports the Washington Post, to request his help. During the conversation Mrs. Levy asks the congressman if he was having an affair with her daughter; he denies it.
The morning of the 7th, on his way to the airport, Condit calls the D.C. police about Chandra. Two days later, Chandra's parents contact the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, a group in Modesto that helps locate missing persons. The group coordinates a national television media blitz by the parents to publicize the case.
On the 10th D.C. police conduct their first search of Levy's apartment. Condit's office issues a statement saying of Chandra, "She's a great person and a good friend." He then donates $10,000 of his campaign funds to a reward fund dedicated to finding her. (California Sen. Dianne Feinstein contributes $5,000. The fund now has $40,000.) While Condit himself doesn't speak publicly, his aides deny there was any romance between him and Chandra. Around this time the police interview Condit for three hours.
On the 19th a vigil is held in Dupont Circle for Levy, attended by Feinstein and fellow California Sen. Barbara Boxer. It is organized by Roger Chiang, whose lawyer sister, a petite brunette in her 20s, disappeared from Dupont Circle in January 1999. Her body was found three months later in the Potomac River. An autopsy was not able to find the cause of death, and there are no suspects in the case.
D.C. police explore the woods near a jogging trail in Adams Morgan where Levy was known to walk. They find nothing. No clues turn up in searches of the city's Rock Creek Park or in canvasses of the banks of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers with dogs trained to find cadavers. Modesto police also come back empty-handed after a team travels to Reno, Nev., in pursuit of a tip that Levy was spotted at one of the city's casinos.
During their initial May TV and newspaper interviews, when the subject of a possible affair between their daughter and the congressman comes up, the Levys say they either know nothing about it or deflect the question and say such inquiries are a distraction from their effort to find their daughter.
Sometime during the month, the Levys obtain their daughter's cell phone records. According to Time magazine, they find 20 calls to one number. When Mrs. Levy calls the number, she discovers it's Condit's pager.
According to various press reports, Condit denies to congressional colleagues that he had a sexual relationship with Levy.
June 2001: The leading published theories in the case are that Chandra Levy was the victim of a street crime gone awry, that she was abducted by a stalker, or that she deliberately disappeared or even committed suicide because of romantic troubles. A D.C. police official tells the WashingtonPost that Condit "is not a suspect. We don't have a crime. Without a crime, you don't have a suspect."
In response to a June 7 article in the Washington Post saying that Condit told law enforcement officials that Levy had spent the night in his apartment, Condit hires California attorney Joseph Cotchett. Cotchett sends out letters to media organizations saying, "[T]he truth is Congressman Condit never made such a statement to police, to 'law enforcement sources' or to anyone else." The letter also alludes to possible libel suits. This prompts follow-up questions about whether Levy ever did spend the night, rather than whether Condit told anyone that she did. In an interview the 16th in the Modesto Bee, Cotchett, after denying on television that Levy spent the night at the congressman's now says he "can't answer" the question and "that it's irrelevant."
In the meantime, the Levys have also hired their own lawyer, whose name they have not made public, and have gone on the offensive against Condit, acknowledging in interviews their belief that he was involved with their daughter and asking him to come forward with any information he might have.
June 20 Update: The Levys announce that their lawyer is Billy Martin, who once represented Monica Lewinsky's mother.
Condit's spokespeople have gotten more aggressive in response. Condit's chief of staff, Mike Lynch, told the Washington Post that he didn't know what the parents were referring to and that it is "sheer and utter nonsense" to speculate there is any connection between Levy's disappearance and Condit. The New York Post is also reporting that Condit is weighing an interview on a TV magazine show and that his friends are putting out the word that Levy was "infatuated with him."
Over the weekend, Condit calls the Levys at home. They refuse to speak to him, and refer him to their lawyer. And Condit appears to be wavering about speaking publicly on the matter.
The Levys say they are not confident the Washington, D.C., police have been aggressive enough in investigating their daughter's case. Chandra Levy's disappearance prompts the police to look into their missing persons procedures, the Washington Post reports, and they discover they have no centralized records on missing persons and no way of knowing if the 558 still-open missing persons cases reported this year is an accurate number. This would be consistent with D.C. police procedure. After a year-long investigation of the utter disarray in the D.C. police homicide unit, a Washington Post editorial said last December, "Thugs bent on murder will find no more hospitable place in which to take a human life--and to kill again--than the nation's capital."
June 21 Update: Washington, D.C., police, while maintaining that Condit is "absolutely not a suspect" in Levy's disappearance, plan to re-interview the congressman both about his relationship with the missing intern and about her state of mind. And Billy Martin, the newly hired Washington attorney for the Levy family, says that his firm has retained investigators to look into the same issues.
The New York Daily News and the Washington Post report that around January, Chandra Levy was telling both a relative and her landlord that she might leave her apartment and move in with her boyfriend. When her landlord called in February to see if she would be breaking her lease, Levy said no, that things hadn't worked out with the boyfriend. The relative speculates the plan may have just been wishful thinking on Levy's part.
Just before her disappearance, Levy contacted her landlord by e-mail to say she would probably be moving back to California while she figured out her next steps. She wrote that since both her internship and her graduate studies in Washington had ended, and she hadn't heard anything yet about jobs she had applied for, there was no reason to stay in D.C. The Daily News also clarifies that while there were two packed suitcases in her apartment when the police entered, the apartment itself was not completely packed up, with clothes, toiletries, and a computer still in place for use.
June 25 Update
By Chris Suellentrop
Thursday, June 21: In the afternoon, Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., releases a statement that criticizes the "tabloidization" of the Chandra Levy case: "All I ask is that the media show restraint and avoid distracting the public and law enforcement from their primary task of trying to find Chandra. The 'tabloidization' of these terrible circumstances can only cause more pain to the Levys while at the same time doing nothing to help find Chandra."
Susan Levy, Chandra's mother, meets with Condit at 9:30 p.m. in an undisclosed location. After an aide to Condit called the Levys' lawyer, Billy Martin, the Levys delayed their plans to return to Modesto that night. Mike Dayton, Condit's Washington chief of staff, tells the Washington Post the meeting was a "private conversation." Robert Levy, Chandra's father, declined to attend.
"Sources who were given an account of the meeting" tell the Washington Post it was "tense," not very substantive, and did not involve much mention of Condit's relationship with Chandra. One source says: "It didn't seem like a lot got accomplished. The lawyers did most of the talking."
Friday, June 22: Condit hires criminal defense lawyer Abbe D. Lowell, who specializes in white-collar crime. The Washington Post calls Lowell "one of Washington's most seasoned lawyers."
Mike Lynch, chief of staff in Condit's Modesto, Calif., office, tells the Washington Post that Lowell will "help us navigate through the Washington maze." Lynch also says Lowell was hired for his relationship with Martin. Lowell had been counseling Condit unofficially, and he helped to arrange Condit's meeting with Susan Levy. Newsweek later reports that Lowell called Condit and offered his services.
Saturday, June 23: Condit meets with D.C. police at 3 p.m. for one hour. It is Condit's second police interview. Lowell sits in on the meeting. Police had requested the meeting two weeks before, and they say it is a routine interview.
Sunday, June 24: D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey appears on ABC's This Week and discusses the Condit interview. "We got some useful information but not a lot that would lead us to Chandra Levy, unfortunately," Ramsey says. The New York Post reports that police sought the interview after Condit's previous lawyer, Joseph Cotchett, said Condit's wife was in Washington the week Levy disappeared. That contradicted what Condit had said earlier about the case, according to the New York Post.
Ramsey also tells This Week that the tape quality of the video system at Levy's apartment is "very, very poor" and that some evidence was taped over because the police didn't know Levy was missing until a week after her disappearance. Nothing useful is found on what remains of the surveillance tapes. Ramsey encourages witnesses or anyone with information on Levy to call the D.C. police operations command at (202) 727-9099. The number is manned 24 hours a day.
D.C. Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer tells the Washington Post there are no plans to interview Condit again but says it is a possibility: "We will go where the leads take us." The Post also reports that Condit is media-shy. "While he's been criticized for not holding press conferences daily, to me that's vintage Gary Condit," his "close friend" Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., tells the paper. "He's quiet, he's reserved. He always operated below the radar screen." In response to critics who want Condit to address the media directly, rather than through spokesmen, the Washington Post notes that Condit asked a colleague on the House floor recently, "What would you suggest I do?"
Monday, June 25: Newsweek reporters Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff report that Chandra Levy hoped to obtain a full-time job at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where she worked as an intern. But three days before her disappearance, Newsweek reports, Levy was dismissed suddenly when she admitted off-hand that she had received her master's degree in public administration from USC in December. Because Levy's internship was supposed to end four months after her graduation, she had to leave.
Newsweek also reports that investigators are examining the possibility that emotional distress over her personal life and the sudden loss of her internship may have led Levy to run away or even commit suicide. Newsweek reports that police sources say there is "some evidence" that Levy may have been upset by a recent breakup, and they believe Condit may be the man in question. Police also tell Newsweek there is evidence that Levy "felt let down when someone in a position to help her keep her job didn't intervene. Police believe Condit could be that person." A "source close to the case" tells the newsweekly that investigators "have begun quietly interviewing former Condit interns, looking for a possible pattern of behavior." The source stresses the police have "nothing" that would implicate Condit in any crime. Police have contacted morgues across the country, Newsweek adds, in a fruitless search for Jane Does matching Levy's description.
One scrap of evidence could support the theory that Chandra Levy was abducted or killed, Newsweek concludes. A relative gave Chandra a check for less than $100 before she disappeared. The check, which was missing from her apartment, has not been cashed.
Political ramifications: Observers are starting to speculate whether the Levy case will damage Condit's political prospects. Jeff Benziger, editor of the Ceres Courier, a weekly in Condit's district, tells the New York Daily News: "He's just the darling of his district. I've often thought he had the seat for life, so I would imagine this is not going to have a lot of impact unless they come up with something really good." But Modesto City Councilman Bill Conrad, a Republican who ran against Condit in 1996 and lost, says Condit would be damaged if it turns out he had an affair with Levy. "It's a conservative area with strong family values," he said. "They'd be shocked. This isn't like the rest of California."
Condit may already be hurt by the scandal. The Washington Post reports that a "close ally" of California Gov. Gray Davis said Condit was a possible candidate for state insurance commissioner before the Levy case surfaced. And an aide to one California Democrat tells the Washington Post: "He'll forever be linked with her, even if she's never found." The Post adds that Republicans won't comment on whether they will challenge Condit in the fall. Condit won re-election in 2000 with 67 percent of the vote.
Condit's son, Chad, may also be hurt politically. He had been planning to launch his political career next year with a run for the California Assembly, the New York Daily News reports.
Hollywood errata: The New York Daily News believes Condit looks like William H. Macy, but Susan Levy says Chandra told her the boyfriend "sort of looked like Harrison Ford." The Smoking Gun Web site offers pictures from Condit's uncredited appearance in the 1988 cult film, Return of the Killer Tomatoes.
June 27 Update
By Chris Suellentrop
Wednesday, July 27: During his June 23 police interview, Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., told investigators he "broke off his close friendship" with Chandra Levy two days before she disappeared, Fox News reports. During the police interview, Condit was silent on the nature of his relationship with Chandra Levy, but he did "strongly hint that the two had been lovers," according to Fox's police sources. Levy became "extremely disappointed and distraught, refusing to take no for an answer and even becoming obsessed with him, the sources said."
Condit told the police he last spoke with Levy on April 29, the day before she disappeared. The New York Daily News reports that Condit's lawyer said Levy made "four or five" calls to Condit on April 30, just before her disappearance, but the newspaper says "it was not clear whether she called again after that."
The Levys are frustrated that police are investigating the possibility that their daughter's disappearance relates to a presumed despondence over her personal life. The New York Post reported that police believe Levy may even have "deliberately disappeared and changed her name." But the New York Daily News reports that Levy was still waiting to hear whether she landed her "dream job" at the FBI, which the Daily News suggests is evidence against suicide. Newsweek reported previously that Levy was distraught over the sudden loss of her internship at the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The "extremely tense" June 21 meeting between Chandra Levy's mother, Susan, and Condit took place at Washington's Jefferson Hotel and lasted only 15 minutes, but that was long enough for the two parties to strike a deal, the New York Post reports. The Levys agreed "to stop their public accusations against Condit--for now--provided he was fully forthcoming with the cops."
Two days later, June 23, Condit was re-interviewed by the police. More than a week before the agreement was made, the police had shown up at Condit's Adams Morgan apartment, but Condit "told them it was not a good time," according to the New York Post. Then on June 18, police visited Condit's congressional office, but Condit wasn't there. They returned June 20, but Condit told them he was busy. (The paper says he "had time for a 2 1/2-hour lunch with a colleague and a workout in the gym.") The police waited Thursday for Condit to call to reschedule. He called Friday, June 22.
According to Fox News, the police want to interview Condit's chronically ill wife, Carolyn. The New York Post calls it "an unusual move." Fox News also notes that the Levys have set up their own toll-free telephone number (800-860-6552) and e-mail address (email@example.com) to allow people with information about Chandra Levy's disappearance to contact the family.
All roads lead to Lewinsky: Condit's lawyer, Abbe D. Lowell, was the chief Democratic counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during impeachment, and the Levys' lawyer, Billy Martin, defended Monica Lewinsky's mother.
Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher dug up some interesting Flytrap quotes from Condit, who wanted President Clinton to appear before the House Judiciary Committee "and either dissuade those allegations or not." Condit also urged full disclosure of the Starr report: "We ought to release everything. We're sort of beyond this point of holding back. ... Release everything and get through this process as quickly as possible." He told CNN he opposed the "drip-drip-drip theory. ... You can't close this issue without getting all the information out there. ... The fact is, the information is going to get out eventually anyway. Let's just do it at once, see where the chips fall."
July 2 Update
By Chris Suellentrop
Monday, July 2: Washington, D.C., police now believe Chandra Levy was in her apartment "for most of the afternoon on May 1--a little less than 24 hours after she was seen canceling her membership at a health club," the New York Post reported Sunday, July 1. (The information was first reported Friday, June 29, by Washington's NBC affiliate, WRC-TV.) The police came to this conclusion after analyzing Levy's cell-phone records and her computer hard drive, including e-mails sent from that computer. Detectives are "investigating the possibility that Levy was a victim of foul play in her apartment building," the Post reports.
The police are operating with three theories: 1) Chandra Levy was abducted or murdered. 2) Chandra Levy is in hiding. 3) Chandra Levy committed suicide. (The New York Post says a "high-ranking police official" proffered a fourth theory, that Chandra Levy lost her memory after getting injured.) The Washington Post reported Saturday, June 30, that investigators have ruled out the possibility of a serial killer or any ties to the unexplained death of Joyce Chiang, the lawyer who disappeared from Dupont Circle in January 1999. (Chiang's body was found on the banks of the Potomac four months later. To learn more about the case, read thisLos AngelesTimes article.) D.C. Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer told the Washington Post that police are exploring threads from any similar disappearances of young women from the Dupont area. The Post says two full-time detectives are on the case, along with two FBI agents.
Levy's parents, neighbors, and an ex-boyfriend believe that theories 2) and 3) are preposterous, the Los Angeles Times reports. And the New York Post reported that police have begun shifting their focus away from those possibilities. Cadaver-sniffing dogs are being used to investigate landfills in the Washington area. The dogs have already searched Levy's neighborhood, D.C.'s riverbanks and parks, and the neighborhood of Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif. Police say this is a normal expansion of a missing person's investigation. (In a sign of internecine warfare among D.C. government agencies, a Washington Public Works Department official told the New York Daily News it would be almost impossible for a body to disappear into a dumpster. The contents of dumpsters are sorted at a waste transfer center before heading off to landfills.)
Both the D.C. police and Condit's staff dispute Wednesday's Fox News report that Condit told investigators during his June 23 police interview that he "broke off his close friendship" with Chandra Levy two days before she disappeared. Assistant Chief Gainer called the report "balderdash," and Condit's Modesto, Calif., chief of staff said it was "invented out of whole cloth" and that "the police sources or the reporter were smoking something." Fox has stood by its story.
Investigators are still trying to arrange an interview with Condit's wife, Carolyn. Gainer told the Associated Press that police think there's "more to know" about Condit's relationship with Chandra Levy. "We want to get her impression of the congressman's friendly relationship with Miss Levy," Gainer said. The questioning will likely be carried out by FBI agents on the West Coast. According to Fox News, investigators want to double-check Condit's "stated whereabouts the week Levy disappeared," and they want "to ask whether Mrs. Condit saw or talked to Levy while in Washington." The Modesto Bee reports that the "on again, off again" efforts to interview Mrs. Condit "have not yet borne fruit but have caused irritation," and the efforts have not "seemed to engender much sense of mutual trust." An interview was set up last week, but a representative from the U.S. attorney's office in Washington called to cancel a half-hour before it was scheduled to begin.
The reward fund dedicated to finding Chandra Levy has grown to $45,000 with the addition of $5,000 Thursday, June 28, from the publishers of the Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine.
July 3 Update
By Chris Suellentrop
Tuesday, July 3: Anne Marie Smith, a 39-year-old United Airlines flight attendant who says she had an 11-month affair with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., told Fox News last night that Condit "asked her to sign a declaration denying their relationship, and told her she did not need to talk to the FBI following the disappearance of Chandra Levy."
Smith said an investigator for Condit's lawyers asked her June 15 to sign a declaration that said in part, "I do not and have not had a relationship with Congressman Condit other than being acquainted with him. I do not and have not had a romantic relationship with Congressman Condit." Click here to read the full text of the declaration. Smith said she refused to sign it and that Condit knew the declaration was false. Condit's lawyers denied knowledge of the document. Condit's Washington attorney, Abbe Lowell, told NBC News that the allegation "has nothing to do with Chandra. This is a side show."
The report of an affair between Smith and Condit first appeared in the Star tabloid, which paid Smith's San Francisco roommate $2,500 for the story. Smith's Seattle-based attorney, Jim Robinson, told the Washington Post today that Smith had been offered up to $50,000 from tabloids for her story. Robinson said he is a longtime friend who is representing Smith pro bono. He said Smith and Condit had a romantic relationship from July 2000 until May 2001.
The story broke into the mainstream press June 27, when the Sacramento Bee reported that Smith had been interviewed by the FBI. At that time, Robinson acknowledged the FBI questioning but declined to elaborate. "My client is a private individual, and would like to remain a private individual," he said.
The New York Daily News reported June 28 that Condit told Smith he was separated. And on Friday, June 29, the New York Post reported that Smith told investigators that Condit wouldn't leave his chronically ill wife because he didn't want to "pull a Newt Gingrich." Former House Speaker Gingrich served his first wife with divorce papers while she was hospitalized. The Post reported that Smith saw Condit about four or five times a month, that she was in love with him, and that he never exhibited any violent tendencies toward her.
Smith told Fox News that she told Condit about her FBI interview. "He was really upset with me," she said. "He said, 'Oh, I see how you are, I see what you're doing.' And I said, 'No, you know, I've never been in a situation like this.' ... He said, 'You don't have to talk to the media, you don't have to talk to anybody. You don't even have to talk to the FBI.' "
Rita Cosby, the Fox News interviewer, said on Monday's O'Reilly Factor that Smith consented to an interview because she wanted to contradict the "false stories" in the Star, and because she was concerned for her safety. Robinson, Smith's lawyer, told the Washington Post that Smith had received strange phone calls and thought she was being followed.
Most reports have said that Smith broke off the relationship with Condit when she heard about the Chandra Levy case, but the New York Daily News reports today that Smith said Condit called her on May 5 or 6. "I'm going to have to disappear for a while," Smith said he told her. "I think I may be in some trouble." As the Daily News notes, Levy's parents reported her missing May 5, and they called Condit for help on May 6.
In his district, Condit appears to be weathering the political storm. The New York Daily News cited a poll taken last week that found he has a 61 percent believability rating among his constituents.
For more on the Chandra Levy case, see her missing persons site.
July 6 Update
By Chris Suellentrop
Friday, July 6: Investigators have all but ruled out the possibility that Chandra Levy killed herself, Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles Ramsey said Thursday. "As time goes on, the possibility of suicide becomes more and more remote, because you would find the remains. ... You can't kill yourself and bury yourself," Ramsey said. "The good news is we haven't found anything that indicates she's met with foul play. The bad news is that we haven't found anything at all, period."
That leaves two remaining theories for Chandra Levy's disappearance: She was abducted or murdered, or she is hiding.
There have been several new developments in the search for Chandra Levy:
1. Aunt details alleged affair. Linda Zamsky, Chandra Levy's aunt, told the Washington Post in a 90-minute interview that her niece first told her about her affair with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., over Thanksgiving. Zamsky, who is married to Levy's uncle, lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Zamsky said Levy told her that Condit gave her gifts such as a gold bracelet and Godiva chocolates and paid for two plane tickets to California. Zamsky said Levy dreamed of marrying Condit and bearing his children. Zamsky implied that Condit said Levy could date other men, but Levy didn't want to. According to Zamsky, Levy said Condit elaborately orchestrated their meetings, and she would often spend weekends at his apartment.
On April 29, two days before she disappeared, Levy left this voice mail for Zamsky: "Hi, Linda. This is Chandra. My internship is over. I'm planning on packing my bags in the next week or 10 days. Heading home for a while. Don't know what I'm going to do this summer. And I really have some big news or something important to tell. Call me. ..." Zamsky said Levy didn't seem upset when she left the message. The New York Daily News reports that investigators believe Chandra's excitement over the "big news" is a "major clue."
2. Condit's wife was interviewed. Investigators questioned Carolyn Condit for several hours in northern Virginia. It is unclear why they questioned her there instead of on the West Coast, where she resides in Ceres, Calif. The New York Post reported that police wanted to ask Mrs. Condit about Rep. Condit's whereabouts on May 1, the day Chandra Levy disappeared.
3. Are there other women? The Washington Times reported Wednesday that "a law enforcement source" said detectives have interviewed six women, including flight attendant Anne Marie Smith, who say they had romantic relationships with Condit. The Times quoted the source as saying the women are "all types and ages."
But a (presumably different) "law enforcement source knowledgeable about the case" disputed the Washington Times account, telling CNN Thursday that "five is way too high." The same source said Condit is not the only friend of Chandra Levy's under police scrutiny.
4. Did Condit obstruct justice? The New York Post reports that FBI agents still say Condit isn't a suspect in the Chandra Levy case (after all, there's still no evidence of a crime), but the FBI is investigating whether Condit obstructed the search for Levy. The federal obstruction probe was launched after Smith's interview with Fox News, during which she said Condit's attorneys asked her to sign an affidavit denying an affair with the congressman. Smith also said Condit told her she didn't have to talk to the FBI.
Condit released this statement Tuesday: "I have repeatedly urged anyone who has any information that could help police find Chandra Levy to come forward, tell all they know, and be as forthcoming as possible. I have not asked anyone to refrain from discussing this matter with authorities, nor have I suggested anyone mislead the authorities."
Condit's San Francisco attorney, Joe Cotchett, acknowledged that an affidavit was sent and that Smith refused to sign it, but he noted that the affidavit advised Smith's attorney, Jim Robinson, to "please edit, cut, suggest, etc." And the New York Daily News reports that Cotchett "implied that Condit had no input in the contents and would therefore not be liable for charges of suborning perjury." But Robinson says Condit called Smith to ask her to sign the affidavit after she refused.
5. More political ramifications. The New York Post reports that Democrats in Condit's district say that Levy's parents have threatened to appear in TV ads in 2002 if Condit decides to run for re-election.
CNN reported that Condit told House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., last week at a private meeting that he doesn't intend to resign because of the controversy, and Gephardt didn't ask him to resign. And the Modesto Bee reports that national Republican strategists have approached California state Sen. Dick Monteith of Modesto about running for Condit's seat. Monteith said he would run only if Condit doesn't.
July 9 Update
By Chris Suellentrop
Friday, July 6: During a 90-minute meeting with Washington, D.C., police, Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., admits to having an affair with Chandra Levy, according to news reports. The Washington Post says two sources familiar with the meeting say Condit "reversed a denial that his aides had maintained since soon after the intern went missing after April 30." Condit was "apologetic" for not disclosing the affair earlier, Newsweek reports.
Condit told investigators that his sexual relationship with Levy was ongoing when she disappeared, according to the Washington Post and Newsweek. The meeting took place at the offices of Condit's Washington lawyer, Abbe D. Lowell, the New York Post reports.
Earlier in the day, before the meeting took place, Lowell appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and said that Condit "is trying to be as helpful as he can to those police and investigators, including all things that could lead to Chandra Levy." Washington, D.C., Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer later responded: "He probably is trying, but hopefully he'll be trying harder."
Saturday, July 7: At a news conference, Gainer says Condit was "challenged" by investigators to clarify the nature of his relationship with Levy. Gainer said Condit was cooperative, and that the interview didn't bring investigators closer to finding Levy. "The congressman was not a suspect before the meeting, he was not a suspect during the meeting, and he is not a suspect after the meeting," Gainer says.
Sunday, July 8: Lowell does the Sunday morning talk show circuit, appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This Week, and CNN's Late Edition. Lowell sticks closely to his talking points: Condit has cooperated fully with police, and he's not talking to the press. Lowell tells This Week that he has "no reason to think" that resigning from Congress is on Condit's "brain, radar screen, purview, constellation."
Lowell is noncommittal on most substantive questions, but on Late Edition he denies a July 7 San Francisco Chronicle report that a federal grand jury had been convened to hear testimony from Condit and his staff. (Gainer denies the same report, though police have used a sitting grand jury to subpoena Levy's bank and telephone records, which is standard practice in missing persons investigations.) On the same show, Lowell disputes Fox News' June 27 story of a "tumultuous breakup" between Levy and Condit. (In a report Monday, the New York Daily News says the Levy family believes Condit's office leaked that story.)
House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, tells Fox News Sunday that a House Ethics Committee investigation into Condit's behavior is likely.
In a report Monday on Lowell's TV appearances, the New York Times reports that Lowell hasn't returned the Times' phone calls for several days.
Monday, July 9: The Levys want Condit to submit to a lie-detector test, the Washington Post reports. Levy family spokesman Michael K. Frisby says Condit told Susan Levy during their June 21 meeting that he last spoke to Chandra Levy April 24 or 25, but news accounts have reported that Condit told police June 23 that he last spoke to Levy on April 29. "It appears that the congressman has not told the complete truth about the relationship," Frisby says. "He told investigators one story; he did not come forward and change that story until Chandra's aunt, Linda Zamsky, detailed publicly the extent of this relationship."
"A source representing Condit" tells the Post that Condit was giving Susan Levy the last time he saw Chandra Levy in person, but Frisby says Condit was asked to give the last time he either saw Levy or spoke to her on the telephone. The Post points out that April 29, the last day Condit says he spoke with Chandra Levy, is the same day Levy called her aunt Linda Zamsky, leaving a voice message about "big news."
Lowell tells NBC News that Condit won't take a polygraph test. "If the Levy family believe there is a discrepancy, have them call me, I will set the record straight," he says. Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles Ramsey, however, doesn't rule out the test, saying "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
NBC, following up on an ABC News report, says police plan to seek a subpoena that would allow them to examine Condit's cell phone records.
Newsweek quotes "one law-enforcement source" who says the case isn't close to being solved: "The real issue is the body. We have no clues. This case may not break until someday, somebody will be out walking in the woods or out fishing, and they'll find what we're looking for."
July 10 Update
By Chris Suellentrop
Monday, July 9: Abbe D. Lowell, the Washington lawyer for Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., holds a press conference and promises to provide to police "whatever additional information or material" is needed to help find Chandra Levy. "This includes access to his apartment, telephone or cell phone records, a request that his entire staff make themselves available, and whatever else I can arrange with police," Lowell says. He adds that Condit would be willing to provide a DNA sample if police think it necessary, but he resists the Levy family's suggestion that Condit submit to a polygraph exam.
"I will do with the police what they find useful," Lowell says. "The police have said that he's answered all questions to their satisfaction." He continues: "There's nothing that a lie detector could test. He's not been inconsistent to the police."
Lowell criticizes the media's focus on Condit during the Chandra Levy investigation. He asks TV networks to end their stakeouts outside the Condit family residences. "Surely the time has come to focus less on Congressman Condit and more on the 99 other people police have identified who might be as helpful in providing information that could find Chandra," Lowell said.
That evening, Robert Levy, Chandra Levy's father, tells reporters outside the Levys' Modesto, Calif., home "that he and his wife still did not believe Condit had told the whole story," MSNBC reports. "He dismissed Lowell's offer to let police search Condit's home and office, saying any evidence could have been removed or destroyed." Susan Levy adds: "Mr. Condit has not been very truthful to me. I think there's things that are unknown and the truth has to come out."
Billy Martin, the Levys' attorney, goes on Larry King Live and attacks Condit's forthrightness. "Getting information from Congressman Condit is like pulling teeth. It comes out only when he's forced to admit these facts," he says. Martin says Susan Levy called Condit in early May and asked whether he had an affair with her daughter. "He lied," Martin says. "He misrepresented his relationship. He told her no."
Martin says Condit's long silence on the subject of his relationship with Chandra Levy harmed the police investigation. "Early on in this investigation, Congressman Condit knew that Chandra was upbeat," he says. "We believe that he knew that she was excited. About what we're not sure. But the investigation took a different path. The investigation went down a road where it was rumored that Chandra may have taken her own life, that she was despondent, that she was upset, that she had been dumped by her lover. Those were not true statements. Congressman Condit knew those statements were not true, and he never corrected the record."
Tuesday, July 10: Washington, D.C., police say they plan to take Lowell up on his offer to let them search Condit's apartment. The search is expected to be conducted Tuesday.
The Washington Post reports that police have asked at least three men "who had contact with" Chandra Levy to take polygraph exams. Presumably none of the men are Condit.
Federal prosecutors say they plan to fly flight attendant Anne Marie Smith to Washington to talk with the U.S. attorney's office. The interview is expected to take place Wednesday. Smith's attorney, Jim Robinson, has accused Condit of suborning perjury by asking Smith to sign an affidavit denying her affair with the congressman.
Condit's lawyers say Condit never contacted Smith directly, but USA Today reported Monday that Smith said Condit called her daily urging her to sign the affidavit. "She didn't actually stop talking to Congressman Condit until about a week and a half ago," Robinson said Monday on the Fox News Channel. "Abbe Lowell then called me after the affidavit incident and accused my client of contacting Congressman Condit. I called Anne Marie and said, 'What in the world is going on?' She said, 'That's absolutely not true. I'm simply returning his phone call.' So I said, 'What is he calling you about?' She says, 'He's trying to get me to fire you and get me to sign that false affidavit.' The man suborned perjury flat out."
Robinson told the Modesto Bee that he told Smith to stop returning Condit's calls and that he let Smith be interviewed by Fox News to create a "document" that could be used in court.
Still more political ramifications: The Modesto Bee reports that City Councilman Bill Conrad is raising money for a run at Condit's seat. Conrad lost to Condit in 1996. "Whether it's an open seat or not, I'm still going to run," Conrad said.
July 13 Update
Tuesday, July 10: At about 11:15 p.m., police begin searching the Adams Morgan apartment of Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.
Wednesday, July 11: At about 2:45 a.m., police leave Condit's apartment, taking what CNN called "two grocery-sized bags and several rectangular-shaped items bundled together." A source tells the Washington Times that police took samples from "one drop of blood in plain sight in the bathroom" and from specks "that might possibly be blood" on Venetian blinds. The source told the Times that Abbe D. Lowell, Condit's Washington attorney, refused to let police take "a pair of pants that had a red stain." The New York Daily News later reports that police "say privately they don't think anything happened" to Chandra Levy at Condit's apartment.
Flight attendant Anne Marie Smith talks for six hours with D.C. police, federal prosecutors, and FBI agents. Smith's attorney, Jim Robinson, tells the Daily News that much of the interview dealt with Condit's "demeanor, behavior, and habits." According to news reports, authorities are investigating Condit on possible charges of obstruction of justice and suborning perjury.
Thursday, July 12: Investigators interview Smith for five hours. The New York Daily News reports that Smith kept a journal that contains details of conversations she had with Condit about Chandra Levy. The conversations took place after Levy disappeared. Smith shared the diary with federal prosecutors.
Friday, July 13: Condit turns over a DNA sample to investigators and passes a private polygraph test given by a former FBI agent. CNN reports that Lowell, Condit's lawyer, says Condit was asked whether he had anything to do with Chandra Levy's disappearance, whether he harmed her or asked anyone to harm her, and whether he knows where she is.
The mystery has several loose ends waiting to be resolved:
1. Was Chandra Levy pregnant? The New York Daily News reported July 6 that investigators were considering the possibility, though they didn't find a testing kit in her apartment. The D.C. political sheet the Hotline cites this July 9 quote from "Chandra Levy friend Sven Jones" from CBS's Early Show: "Oddly enough, she mentioned at some point, almost in passing, that she had to make a medical appointment. I said, 'OK, what is that?' Awkward silence. I was a little concerned for her, in the sense that it might be a serious medical condition, or maybe this is something that had to do with her relationship." The interviewer then asked, "Pregnant?" Jones replied, "Possibly." And the Hotline says Levy family lawyer Billy Martin told the Early Show on July 10, "I don't think we want to answer that, but we do know the answer."
Now Matt Drudge reports that the July 24 issue of the National Enquirer, which hit newsstands July 13, cites a Department of Justice source who believes Levy was pregnant with Condit's baby. The New York Post reported July 13 that Chandra's parents told America Most Wanted "that although some reports say their daughter may have been pregnant when she vanished, they have no evidence that's true." And the New York Daily News says "two sources close to the Levy family" are "certain Levy was not pregnant."
2. Are there other women? The Washington Times reports that "law enforcement sources" say investigators "on both coasts are reinterviewing six women who claimed to have had affairs" with Condit, and they're looking for other women who were romantically involved with him.
On July 11, the Modesto Bee reported that a 31-year-old California woman provided the Bee with two phone numbers she said Condit gave her about five years ago. "He has this mysterious phone number that he gives out to all the girls," the woman said. "When you call this number you just hear music playing and then a beep. That is when you are supposed to leave a message." The woman's interview with the Bee took place before similar accounts from Anne Marie Smith and Chandra Levy's aunt, Linda Zamsky, became public. The Bee left messages at the two numbers, but they were not returned.
The Washington Post reported July 12 that FBI agents "approached and interviewed a Pentecostal minister who described an affair" between Condit and his then-18-year-old daughter. The minister, Otis Thomas, told the Modesto Bee that "he received an anonymous telephone call about three weeks ago. The caller said, 'Shut up and listen,' then warned Thomas against talking to anyone about Condit. The caller, he said, knew things about Thomas' family, and Thomas called the experience 'very intimidating.' "
A "handwritten note on three-hole binder paper that was signed 'Jennifer Thomas' " was taped to the front door of the Thomas home Thursday, July 12. According to the Washington Post, the note said: "This letter is to anyone with an interest in me or my father. We are not interested in an interview, we do not want to be on TV for any reason. I will tell you that I never knew Mrs. Levy's daughter, I never met that congressman who's involved in all this. I don't even have an interest in politics as it is."
Mike Lynch, Condit's Modesto, Calif., chief of staff, told the Modesto Bee that Condit said he did not have a relationship with Thomas' daughter. Condit's former driver and bodyguard, Vince Flammini, also denied the allegations: "That's a bull---- story," he said. "I worked for him all through that time. I was his driver. I've never seen that girl in my life." Flammini had previously supported Anne Marie Smith's allegation of an affair with Condit, saying, "I wasn't in the room when they were making love, but she's telling the truth."
3. Who are Bob Novak's sources? The conservative pundit made this statement on the July 6 Crossfire: " I am told that the voters in Modesto might forgive Congressman Condit if they thought perhaps he had done some violence to this girl, not that anybody is accusing him of it, they might forgive him for that, but they could never forgive him for philandering."
4. Will Condit run for re-election? Lynch tells that Modesto Bee that he will. "We decided some time ago he would run," Lynch said.
[August 3 update: Explainer's Chandra Levy updates ended July 13. They were warranted when the major media weren't covering the story adequately, and when events moved so quickly it was difficult to keep up. But given the round-the-clock attention the story has received over the past month, unless your only news source other than Slate is the "CBS Evening News," the Chandra Levy story needs no more explaining.]