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Condit Denies Any Connection With Disappearance of Intern 2 decks

By Allan Lengel and Petula Dvorak
THE WASHINGTON POST

Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), breaking his public silence in the Chandra Levy case, said in a televised interview Thursday night that he had nothing to do with her disappearance but declined to answer questions about the nature of his relationship with the 24-year-old former federal intern.

The 53-year-old Democrat from central California defended his actions since April 30, when Levy was last seen in downtown Washington, and reiterated that he has done everything possible to aid the investigation, including answering all questions posed by investigators.

The long-awaited public appearance by the son of a Baptist minister began with a direct and dramatic exchange. ABC News correspondent Connie Chung asked the congressman whether he had anything to do with Levy’s disappearance, whether he knew if anyone wanted to harm her or whether he himself caused her harm.

After Condit answered no to each of the questions, Chung asked: “Did you kill Chandra Levy?”

“I did not,” Condit replied.

The interview, taped earlier in the day and restricted to 30 minutes, was combative at times as Chung pressed Condit to acknowledge an affair law enforcement sources say he has already admitted. But the congressman steadfastly refused to answer the question.

“I have not been a perfect man. I have made mistakes in my life,” Condit said. “But out of respect for my family, out of a specific request by the Levy family, it is best that I not get into the details of the relationship.”

The interview covered ground familiar to many who have followed a saga that began with little fanfare in May, when police first reported Levy missing, and has since drawn international attention. Even without explaining the nature of the relationship, Condit acknowledged that he knew Levy for five months, that she visited his apartment often and that he spoke to her in the days before she vanished.

“Did she want to marry you and have your child?” Chung asked at one point, returning to the subject that dominated the interview.

“I only knew Chandra for five months. And in that five-months period, we never had a discussion about a future, about children, about marriage. Any of those items never came up in that five-month period,” Condit said.

At several points, Condit challenged media accounts of parts of the story and disputed what the Levy family has said about the case. Chandra’s mother, Susan, has said from the early days of the investigation that she confronted Condit over the telephone and specifically asked him if he had an affair with her daughter.

Condit denied that part of the conversation took place. “My job was to console and do what I could to be helpful. But I never lied to Mrs. Levy at all. I’m sorry if she misunderstood the conversations,” Condit said.