Feds Explore Condit Obstruction Allegation

ByABC News

W A S H I N G T O N, July 10, 2001 -- A flight attendant who claims Rep. Gary Condit tried to get her to lie about an affair is headed to Washington as investigators consider whether the congressman may have tried to obstruct justice in the search for missing intern Chandra Levy.

United Airlines flight attendant Anne Marie Smith headed to the nation's capital from Seattle this afternoon to talk to federal prosecutors as part of a possible preliminary investigation.

The development came as Levy's parents and their lawyer called on Condit, D-Calif., to take a lie detector test. Condit attorney Abbe Lowell said Monday his client would consider such a request if police asked, but Lowell discounted the effectiveness of such tests.

Lowell also said that if police want to search Condit's apartment, they are welcome to. Police sources told ABCNEWS that investigators are likely to take him up on that offer.

Focus Turns to Flight Attendant

Condit has denied trying to pressure Smith. But she claimed last week that Condit and a private investigator working for him had pressed her to sign an affidavit denying a 10-month affair that she claims took place.

Prosecutors want to ask Smith about her communications with Condit. And they are likely to ask what, if anything, she knows about Levy.

Condit's alleged relationship with Smith has become an issue as police and FBI agents investigate his relationship with Levy, who has been missing for more than two months. After weeks of failing to disclose the true nature of his relationship with Levy, the married Condit, 53, admitted to police Friday that he had a sexual relationship with 24-year-old Levy, sources said.

Smith has 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 about their own affair.

One of Condit's lawyers, Joseph Cotchett, released a statement last week 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."

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.

Robinson denied he had asked for the draft affidavit. He said Condit's lawyers sent it along unprompted.

Two Phone Conversations

Smith's attorney also said Condit had personally spoken to his client by phone twice. Calling in early May, the congressman told Smith to lie low because he might be in some trouble, Robinson said. In a second call — placed after Smith had received the draft affidavit and had spoken to the FBI — Condit allegedly became upset and told her she didn't need to talk to the FBI.

Levy 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.

Condit Attorney: He Will Cooperate

As the scrutiny of Condit broadened, the Levy family called on the congressman to take a lie detector test.

The Levys say they question the congressman's truthfulness about when he last spoke to their daughter and are suspicious of other information he may or may not be offering to police.

"Mr. Condit has not been very truthful to me up until now and I think there are things that are unknown and the truth has to come out," Chandra's mother, Susan Levy, told reporters Monday outside her home in Northern California.

On the other side of the nation in Washington, Condit's attorney Abbe Lowell held a news conference shortly thereafter vowing his client would give authorities anything they wanted.

"The congressman is going to make available what police ask for that for that they think is helpful," Lowell said.

But Lowell said he lacked confidence in the reliability of lie detectors and would only consider discussing it with his client if police urged him to do so.

Police can have anything they want, Lowell said, whether it's access to Condit's apartment, phone records or a request that the congressman's entire staff be made available. In fact, Lowell said, the police have already been in Condit's apartment: The congressman invited them there to conduct his very first interview.

When Levy's mother Susan and her attorney, Billy Martin, met with Condit, the congressman claimed to have last spoken with Chandra on April 25, the sources said. But, according to sources, Condit told police he last spoke to Chandra on April 29.

Police still insist the congressman is not a suspect in the case and say he is being "fully cooperative."

But Martin said on ABCNEWS's Good Morning America that Condit had not been truthful or cooperative with the Levys. Soon after Chandra disappeared, the Levys spoke to Condit and asked him if the two were having an affair. According to Martin, he said no.

"He lied. He misrepresented their relationship," Martin said. "Getting information from Congressman Condit is like pulling teeth."

ABCNEWS' Pierre Thomas contributed to this report

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