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Condit Not a Suspect, According to D.C. Police

Aired July 7, 2001 - 18:56   ET


BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, we're going to be going to the news conference, which is about to occur here. Here's Terrance Gainer.

TERRANCE GAINER, ASST. CHIEF, METROPOLITAN POLICE: Good evening. Yesterday afternoon, I had been calling on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Department for the congressman to clarify his relationship with Chandra Levy. Almost simultaneously with that, his attorney was contacting our folks and late last night, from about 8:30 until 10:00, the congressman met with our investigative team, led by detective superintendent Commander Barrett. And the congressman, with his attorney present, answered every question that we put to him.

And so, he clarified those issues that we needed some more information about, and we were comfortable with his answers. It was a good hour-and-a-half, productive meeting, and the congressman was not a suspect before the meeting, he was not a suspect during the meeting, and he is not a suspect since the meeting. So, he was cooperative and happy to get this third interview out of the way.

So, I guess what I'm saying, through those three interviews and the interview with his wife, we feel very comfortable with the information that we have. Unfortunately, it does not lead us to finding where Ms. Chandra Ann Levy is, but every information we get -- every bit of information, I think, again lends some clarity and helps us work through this issue.

Now, probably much to your chagrin, we will not be going into specifics of what was said during that, other than to say the congressman answered every question put to him, and I am comfortable that our investigators have the information that they need from both him and his wife, and I'd be happy to try and answer any questions.

QUESTION: Do you know the nature of the relationship now?

GAINER: We're comfortable with it. We understand the nature of the relationship and he answered all our questions.

QUESTION: What was the relationship?

GAINER: I wouldn't go into specifics. As we've said all along, that's not the posture that we would take. It's unfair to him, unfair to the investigation process, and probably unfair to the Levy family.

QUESTION: Did he say whether the relationship matched what the relatives described it as?

GAINER: All the information that we have gathered from interviews thus far, from the interviews with the congressman and his wife, from our examination of computer records, telephone records, has lent to the store of knowledge that we're gathering that again, will help us to work from some of the issues. So, beyond that, it's going to be real difficult for me to give you any specifics.

QUESTION: Was there anything that drastically changed the feeling about what their relationship was? Were you surprised by anything that you found out?

GAINER: We had been asking for clarity, and I said that yesterday, and he provided the clarity that we needed.

QUESTION: Do you plan on having future interviews with the congressman or his wife?

GAINER: There's no plan for that. But the congressman and his wife and his attorney have indicated that they'll continue to cooperate with the Metropolitan Police Department and we do take them at their word.

QUESTION: Does that clarity help us to understand Chandra's state of mind?

GAINER: It lends to that, so we'll factor that information with other information that we've gathered. The detectives, investigators, federal officials working on that will factor that in and we'll see where it leads us.

QUESTION: Was he able to provide some type of insight into her state of mind?

GAINER: I wouldn't go into the -- Allan (ph), the specifics of the investigation, other than to say that, again, we challenged him for clarity. He provided the clarity, and answered each one of our questions.

QUESTION: Can you explain how you challenged him, how that came about?

GAINER: Well, I think one of the ways was to publicly state that we wanted a fourth (sic) interview, and that I, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Department, was uncomfortable with what we had learned in the first and second interview, and wanted more. I mean, he provided a lot of information in the first two interviews. His wife provided a lot of information, but we wanted to bring it all together, and I think we have done that now. He was very cooperative yesterday. He was very professional and happy to get this portion of our investigation over with.


(JOINED IN PROGRESS) QUESTION: ... helpful in every way, that it would be very helpful if you had his phone records? Was that a factor, that it would be helpful if you had them?

GAINER: I think it's important that we have all the information that we can, and I'm comfortable that we have all that we can at the moment. We continue to look for things. I think we ought to concentrate a little bit on Ms. Levy. There is other theories that we're working through, and we continue to work those.

QUESTION: Are your investigators preparing any information for a grand jury at this point?

GAINER: Well, you know, under the rules of grand jury, one is precluded from talking about that, but there is no need to go to a grand jury if the people with whom we're dealing are cooperative, and the people with whom we're dealing are cooperative.

QUESTION: What are these theories that you're investigating?

GAINER: I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Have your investigators prepared information for a grand jury?

GAINER: There is no grand jury investigation of this case.

QUESTION: Chief Gainer, what are those other theories that you're investigating?

GAINER: We still have to explore whether Ms. Levy committed suicide, as remote as that may be because of the passage right. We have to explore whether she was the victim of a street crime. We have to explore whether she went off on her own and secluded herself or we have to explore the possibility that maybe she's injured or incapacitated as a street person someplace and doesn't know who or where she is at.

That has really been consistent through this whole thing, and every track that we have taken has added something to that or taken away something from that. The conversation with the congressman and his wife, again, is all part of that investigative process. As we've said before, we have talked to scores and scores of people, we have reinterviewed scores of people, and we will continue to work through each one of these theories.


QUESTION: Are you saying that when you have someone who has been cooperative as you say they have been that there's no need to subpoena information from them?

GAINER: There is no need to compel information or testimony when people are answering your questions and providing that which you need.

QUESTION: And they are? GAINER: That's correct.


QUESTION: Have there been any crimes in that neighborhood, any additional crimes in recent months that aroused your suspicions? Anything in particular you're following up on? Any armed robberies in that area?

GAINER: Well, we do have detectives working to look at missing person cases, other homicides, other robberies, but we have seen no link that leads us to any conclusion. But we won't preclude to continue to explore that in this area, the greater surrounding area of Washington and across the United States. Our investigators have worked closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We have put a lot of information into VICAP, the victims related program, and we've seen no patterns, no similarities.

QUESTION: Did you have a false affidavit come up with Anne Marie Smith, which we asked about and...

GAINER: I wouldn't talk about any specifics in this.

QUESTION: Where did the interview take place?

GAINER: The interview occurred in a non-police facility in the District of Columbia. Present were the congressman and his attorney and the MPD investigative team, and the location is probably not particularly relevant.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied that you have everything you need from him at this moment?

GAINER: Well, the Metropolitan Police Department won't be satisfied until we have Chandra Levy. I very comfortable that the congressman and his wife and his attorney are cooperating with us and they've answered every single question that we have put to them.

QUESTION: Would you say that the congressman has obstructed in any way this investigation?

GAINER: I do not think that's the case. I think with the clarity of this interview, with the interview of his wife that we have the information that we need.

QUESTION: Chief, without addressing the nature of the relationship between them, do you feel -- do the police feel that there is any link between that relationship and her disappearance?

GAINER: Again, I don't want to speak about any substantive issues of any of the interviews, but I can reiterate that interviews that we have conducted, examination of telephone records, computer records, banking records have not given us the information that we need to locate Ms. Levy.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied that Gary Condit had nothing do with that disappearance?

GAINER: I'm absolutely satisfied that he has answered every one of our questions, is not a suspect today and wasn't one yesterday.

QUESTION: But tomorrow? Are you ruling -- could you be clear at this point and say he's clearly has no involvement?

GAINER: Well, he wouldn't need to be cleared because he never was a suspect.

QUESTION: Chief Gainer, can you comment on the "Newsweek" magazine report that is about to come about where they say that Congressman Gary Condit apparently told D.C. police in this interview that he did have an affair with Chandra Levy?

GAINER: I would have no comment on the substantive issues that we have discussed with him or any other witness. Again, you all know very well that we're not going to get information from people if I stand in front of police headquarters and blab who said what.

QUESTION: Can you give us a laundry list what was turned over? You asked for things and you say they have been cooperative. What exactly have they...

GAINER: I wouldn't be able to do that. Our investigators have been very aggressive in trying to get computer records, telephone records, banking records, we are satisfied with the delivery and the information we get from that. A close continuing examination of those items has not proved directly fruitful, but again, every time you pick up some information, it adds or subtracts to various theories.


QUESTION: Are Chandra Levy's medical records missing from the list you just gave, bank, phone?

GAINER: Well, not mentioned it wasn't -- I guess is the whole problem with starting with a laundry list. We've got all the information I believe that is available to us to paint the picture, complete the profile of Ms. Chandra Levy.

QUESTION: You were very careful throughout this entire thing to repeat that the congressman is not a suspect in this case. Is now the time for you to stand and say that the congressman -- the police believe the congressman had nothing do with her disappearance?

GAINER: I don't believe he had anything at this point. There's no indication that that's ever been the case. It wasn't an indication yesterday, and isn't one today.

QUESTION: But, obviously, the congressman would be very relieved if he -- if you were able to say that you're going to that the police are going to stop looking, even asking questions along those lines.

GAINER: Well, no, you're going way too far and you're -- I object to the form of question because it goes way too far. The congressman has answered every one of our questions, and I think that's very positive. I think part of the focus everybody has been has the congressman been cooperating with us. He has been cooperating with us. We said weeks ago he wasn't a suspect. He wasn't a suspect midday yesterday. he wasn't a suspect during the interview and he's not a suspect now.

QUESTION: You were asking...

GAINER: But I don't know what happened to Chandra Levy, and we still have to try to figure that out.


QUESTION: What happened during the previous two interviews? Was he not cooperative? Was he not answering...

GAINER: I don't think that's a fair way to say it. Again, to professionals like yourself who spend a lot of time asking questions and repeatedly asking questions, it doesn't surprise anybody that you would won't to get clarity and as you learn new things or we learn new things, you want to discuss those things.

So, having a third interview doesn't mean the first interview was unsuccessful or the second interview. It just means inquiring minds want further information. We're information sponges, and I'll keep getting the it from wherever we can.

QUESTION: The phone records...

GAINER: Even from you.


GAINER: What else is it you know about this case?


QUESTION: Have you subpoenaed anything of his belongings: phone records, anything else?

GAINER: It wouldn't contact -- I wouldn't comment on the specifics of what we have done. But -- but again, Allan, it is not necessary to use -- compel testimony or compel turnover of documents if people are cooperating with you.

QUESTION: Can you say that you have not subpoenaed his phone records?

GAINER: I wouldn't comment on those specifics. It's just not fair to the investigative process.


GAINER: I think what -- I think what we owe the public is hard, diligent work on this, and you have to be confident that our investigators, our detectives are talking to whom they need to talk, getting the information they need and sifting through that. And I can assure you on behalf of Chief Ramsey and myself we are doing that.

QUESTION: Has this...

GAINER: You're getting much too close


GAINER: And I object.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, let me say something. It's getting had the out here. The chief agreed to come out here, and I know this is not "The Washington Post" press conference/interview. And we're going to take a few more questions, and I'm going to get the chief out of this heat.

QUESTION: Was the interview videotaped?

GAINER: It was not.

QUESTION: Have you had any reason to ask to search his apartment or do you have any plans to ask to search his apartment?

GAINER: None at this point, no.

QUESTION: Chief, could you clarify...


GAINER: Yes, the investigative -- the FBI is part of our investigative team.

QUESTION: If you think the congressman has nothing do with this, can you at least tell us the last day he was in contact with Ms. Levy?

GAINER: I would not give any substantive information about our interview. We have said that she was last seen on the 29th. She last sent some of her communications on the 1st. So, those are the days we're focusing on. That's what is really relevant, I think, as to the public.

QUESTION: Did his answers contradict any of the Levy's -- the Levy's or the aunt's characterization?

GAINER: Allan, that would require me to discuss substantive issues and I won't. Again, it is really important to understand, yesterday midday, we wanted more information. We wanted clarity. By yesterday evening, at shortly after 10:00, we had the information we wanted.

QUESTION: To belabor the point of a grand jury, the possibility for the future, I want to be clear on what you said about there is not a grand jury now investigating this. Is that something which will be possible, certainly in the future? GAINER: Well, it depends on where this case goes as to how you -- the investigation unfolds. Again, the theories that I laid out, some are criminal and some are not, and if we get more information that can lend clarity to any of those, we may very will use the grand jury.

QUESTION: What do you make of all the misinformation out there?

QUESTION: In a case like this with so much speculation, isn't it helpful for you folks to clear a few things up?

GAINER: Gee, I thought that's precisely what we're doing. Clearly, we said before, and everyone of you that I have talked to about have talked about the media feeding frenzy, and we did ask ourselves if we, the Metropolitan Police Department or I, Gainer, were feeding that, and we did not want that to occur. That's really why we backed off of this.

So, we're trying to balance getting the information out to the public, getting information in from the public if they help us find Levy, give you a little bit of the information you need to know, and maintain confidentiality. I think, actually, we've been pretty careful in doing that. Everybody is not happy, so that's probably some indication that we're right about where we need be. We said we would give you information that would be helpful. I knew you were eager to do this. That's why we're here.

QUESTION: Can I ask you again, what you reached out, did you just reach out publicly or did you actually make a phone call when you suggested you reached out to him? I wasn't clear on that.

GAINER: The challenge was done very publically both through "The Post" and "Newsweek" and some other reporters that had talked to me. Simultaneous, the congressman's attorney was reaching out to our staff, our staff to him, and it was a good meeting of the minds. It was very -- it was, from the detective's point of view, a very productive helpful to them interview.

QUESTION: Do you have any question about the first week of her disappearance?

GAINER: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Do you guys have a record or have you ever questioned him about the first week of Levy's disappearance?

GAINER: I would not get into the substantive information. I do know that, but I'm not going to get into the substantive information. A couple more.

QUESTION: Do you have a clear picture now of Chandra Levy's state of mind after the interview?

GAINER: Well, I think we have information that has to be analyzed and reviewed, so I don't think my off-the-cuff reaction to that is fair. The detectives are really the meat of this, and they're going to use their intuitive abilities and a little bit of serendipity and see where that goes.

QUESTION: Had he made any requests to you during this interview in terms what you can disclose?

GAINER: There were no ground rules in this. He answered every question we put forward to him. Last question, anybody?

Hearing none, I thank you.

QUESTION: Why are you so confident that he's not a suspect? What is it about his answers that make you feel so confident that he's not a suspect at all?

GAINER: Well, we've been in the midst of looking for Chandra Levy for quite a bit of time, now. So factoring in the interviews, the evidence that we have gathered, the physical records I've talked about in our interviews, I can say with some certainty is he not a suspect.

QUESTION: Was there ever a time that you guys gave him a warrant to investigate in-depth in his office or his private home or...

GAINER: Well, I'm not sure you're using the right terms. But we never issued any subpoenas. There's never been any warrants. A warrant would be issued for a suspect, and he's not a suspect, ma'am.

QUESTION: Is there anything else that you need?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) level of intense investigation?

GAINER: Say that again.

QUESTION: How much longer can the department sustain this intense level of investigation in this case?

GAINER: As long as it takes. Our detective, fortunately, are not subject to this end. That's, again, I think the role of Chief Ramsey and myself and some of the other command officials, is to give them the latitude, the room, the empowerment, the tools to conduct an investigation. And they do not notwithstanding what goes on on the fifth floor or what the fourth estate is interested in.

QUESTION: The other day, Ramsey really played down the likelihood of suicide given the time that's elapsed and the fact that no body has surfaced anywhere. Are you suggesting today that that theory is again more in play than it was?

GAINER: You know, I listened to what the chief said, I talked to Chief Ramsey about what he said, and I think he was suggesting that as time goes by, and the remains, the body is not recovered, works against a suicide theory. But neither he nor I nor anybody else would rule that out. We pray that's not the case, but it is still something we have to consider.

QUESTION: Was there anything you learned yesterday that would make that more -- you know, a higher probability. GAINER: You know, of the various theories we have discussed, of the four or five, none actually has greater strength than the other. We have a variety of individuals working on those various aspects and will continue to do that.

QUESTION: You talked about you called out for clarity, you challenged him. Obviously, you were frustrated with the previous two if you had to call out to him that he wasn't providing clarity in the other two.

GAINER: Allan, I'm the type of guy that just rarely gets frustrated. All I was suggesting was, in all honestly, that we needed clarity and I spoke very openly and honestly about that, and again, simultaneous, the congressman was interested in providing that same clarity. So, there was a wonderful meeting of the minds and a good hour and a half interview.


QUESTION: You have no plans at this stage to seek any subpoenas or warrants, no probable cause for any subpoenas?

GAINER: I missed the first part of the question, ma'am.

QUESTION: I said, do you have no plans at this stage to seek any warrants or subpoenas and no probable cause, no reason to ask for search or for more records.

GAINER: Not at the moment, no.

QUESTION: Can you clarify any activity of the grand jury, subpoenas, anything, that would be (OFF-MIKE)

GAINER: The grand jury rules preclude you talking about what a grand jury does. That having been said, I can say based on what's been read to me about that San Francisco article, it is incorrect. We have not called for a grand jury. We're not looking into a grand jury and we've not asked that the grand jury call or bring anybody there. It's just not -- simply not true.

QUESTION: Chief, has there even been a case that's been similar to this that you can think of in your career that has any type of parallel at all that you can remember?

GAINER: Well, from what perspective, the complexity? The interest? I mean, sure there's been. There's an awful lot of things, as you know, that go on from a law enforcement point of view across the United States, and this obviously has more play with the public and the press because of the mention of the congressman.

And I think that's worked in some respects to our advantage because we do get more information out there, and hopefully will jog someone's memory or have someone dime someone out. But it also works to a disadvantage, I think of the process, the congressman, the Levy family because just the idle speculation and rumor mongering isn't the way we're supposed to conduct business. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, let's ask a couple more questions, then we're going cut it off.

QUESTION: Was there a focus in today's meeting? Was there a focus of period of time, like the last week of her disappearance? Was there any particular period of time you focused in on?

GAINER: Our investigators had wide-ranging questions to satisfy their curiosity and they are happy that they got all their questions in and their questions answered.

QUESTION: Will there be a transcript released of this meeting that you had?

GAINER: Yes, right.

QUESTION: Is it accurate to say that the congressman...

GAINER: You've been in the sun too long.


QUESTION: Is it an accurate to say that the congressman explicitly described the nature of his relationship with Chandra Levy?

GAINER: It is most accurate to say the congressman answered every question we asked of him and he did it fully, completely and professionally and cooperatively. So, thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: Assistant Chief Terrance Gainer of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police heading back into his office after a wide-ranging and rather lengthy comment to reporters gathered outside police headquarters about the interview given to police investigators by Congressman Gary Condit, now we know last night, apparently, for about 90 minutes at a location that the chief called a non-police facility,



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