Rep. Gary Condit and one of his lawyers today denied trying to pressure a woman into lying about an alleged relationship with the congressman.
A flight attendant had told Fox News on Monday that a private investigator had pressed her to sign an affidavit denying a 10-month affair with the California congressman. In fact, United Airlines flight attendant Anne Marie Smith said, there had been a romantic relationship.
"I have not asked anyone to refrain from discussing this matter with authorities, nor have I suggested anyone mislead the authorities," Condit said in a brief, one-page statement. (Statement - PDF)
Condit's alleged relationship with Smith has become an issue as police and FBI agents investigate his relationship with missing intern Chandra Levy.
Smith said she knew nothing about any relationship Condit might have had with Levy, but claimed the congressman had told her she did not need to speak to the FBI.
Law enforcement officials told ABCNEWS that while Smith's story might not have any direct relevance to the Levy case, it raises questions about possible obstruction of justice.
One of Condit's lawyers, Joseph Cotchett, also released a statement today refuting claims that anyone had pressured Smith on the congressman's behalf. Cotchett said his office had merely e-mailed her attorney a draft statement based on phone conversations "with the congressman's staff and the flight attendant." A copy of the e-mail also released by Cotchett said at the top, "Please edit, cut, suggest, etc."
Cotchett said the e-mail had been requested by Smith's lawyer, James Robinson.
"Mr. Robinson asked that a draft statement be sent to him, that he would review it with his client and make changes as necessary," the statement from Cotchett's law firm said.
But speaking to reporters this afternoon outside his Seattle office, Robinson denied he had asked for the draft affidavit. He said Condit's lawyers sent it along unprompted.
Two Phone Conversations
The attorney also said Condit had personally spoken to Smith by phone twice. Calling in early May, Robinson said, the congressman told Smith to lay low because he might be in some trouble. In a second call — placed after Smith had received the draft affidavit and had spoken to the FBI — Condit was allegedly upset and told her she didn't need to talk to the FBI.
Levy, 24, was last seen on April 30, and her last known communication — an e-mail to her parents in California — was received on May 1.
In the weeks since Levy's disappearance, speculation has centered around her connection to Condit, the Democratic congressman who represents the Northern California district where Levy's family lives. Levy, who had just finished an internship at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was apparently planning to return home when she disappeared.
In prepared statements, Condit, 53, has called Levy a "good friend." His aides have denied that the married congressman had any romantic relationship with the young woman. Her parents, however, have said they suspect she may have been having an affair with him.