D.C. Mayor Marion Barry acknowledged in an interview yesterday that he smoked crack cocaine at the Vista Hotel in January, but blamed the U.S. government, saying federal authorities had tried to "kill" him by allowing him to consume a potent dose of the illegal drug.

In an hourlong interview with The Washington Post, Barry also dismissed reports that he was considering a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, and expressed confidence about the outcome of his trial on drug and perjury charges, scheduled to begin Monday. If he does not win an acquittal outright, Barry said, he is certain that 12 jurors will not vote unanimously to convict.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson denied a request from Barry's lawyers yesterday to split the case into two trials. The judge gave defense lawyers a small victory of sorts by encouraging prosecutors to turn over a list of trial witnesses and their statements to the defense by tomorrow. Jackson's rulings virtually assure that jury selection will start Monday.

"I think the prosecutors know," Barry said, "that in this town all it takes is one juror saying, 'I'm not going to convict Marion Barry. I don't care what you say.' "

In the interview, conducted in his high-ceilinged office in the District Building, Barry seemed composed and confident about his legal and political prospects, which have been entwined since his Jan. 18 arrest in an FBI sting operation. At various points in the interview, the mayor joked about some of the candidates in the mayor's race, reflected on how his family has been affected by his legal troubles, and expressed determination to go to court to fight the charges against him.

At the same time, Barry suggested he could change his mind about a plea agreement and said he could live with the possibility of not winning a fourth term to the office he has held since 1979.

"I'm not saying that never in life that one doesn't reexamine one's position," Barry said at one point. Later, he added: "My ego is not such that I'm going to go crazy if I'm not the mayor."

Barry also said he thought that he has been judged more harshly because he is the mayor, and that he would not have been indicted if he were an ordinary citizen.

"I may be a poor role model, but . . . being a poor role model is not a crime," he said.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that friends of the mayor's had indicated Barry would consider pleading guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession, but that U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens has told his assistants that he would insist on a felony plea as part of any agreement. Spokesmen for both Barry and Stephens said yesterday that no plea negotiations have occurred.

Barry's acknowledgement of drug use came amid a slashing attack on the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"I've seen this videotape, and the tape is more damaging to the government than to me," he said. "It shows they bought the liquor, they did everything there. They had me ingest cocaine, crack cocaine, which could have killed me . . . . I could have been dead now, with 70, 80, 90 percent pure cocaine."

The mayor, testing themes that might be advanced in his trial defense, portrayed himself yesterday as an individual who had been "hounded, harassed, vilified, slandered and everything else under the sun," particularly by federal law enforcement officials who he contended have attempted to alter the shape of District politics.

"The prosecutors have been dipping and dabbling in the politics of Washington for a long time, and it's unconscionable," Barry said. "And then to try to kill me, it's unprecedented."

The mayor, who was indicted May 10 on charges of engaging in a conspiracy to possess drugs from 1984 to 1990, said he understands that not all of the 19 alleged co-conspirators are cooperating with the prosecutors, and that those who have cooperated may not have provided substantial, damaging information.

Barry expressed little concern yesterday about the repercussions of any of his former associates testifying against him.

"What's the worst they could say, that I used cocaine with them?" Barry said. "I think if you talk to most Washingtonians -- even my supporters have some inklings that they may think I may have done that {used cocaine} because of all the deluge of information."

"So if they testify I'd used cocaine with them before, that's not damaging. People already think that. A lot of people do.

"I hear it all the time from my supporters. They think the government's gone overboard, overzealous in trying to bring a court of justice around something that, at worst, was harmful to me personally -- if I did that."

It is important to keep in mind, the mayor said, that at most, federal prosecutors have charged him with doing something that was harmful to himself.

"I'm saying that's the worst they could say, I think," Barry said. " . . . my most fierce, most vehement and vociferous critics can't tie me to taking money from the government, or I'm not in the drug-dealing business. Even my most serious, vociferous critics can't say the mayor is out making money selling drugs."

Barry recounted the history of the FBI's interest in his administration over the past decade, saying that investigators had failed in efforts to show he was corrupt. More than a dozen Barry administration officials have been convicted on corruption charges, but none of the cases has involved misconduct by the mayor.

"They can't say we shot anybody, we robbed anybody, that we had a scheme to steal a million dollars from the D.C. government. That's why I feel good about proceeding ahead even in the worst case," Barry said.

Six of the 14 counts against Barry, including the conspiracy count, were contained in the indictments returned May 10, and Barry's lawyers have said the new charges have caused problems in preparing for trial.

At yesterday's hearing, defense lawyer R. Kenneth Mundy told Jackson that he had been unable to interview any of the new names provided to him by federal prosecutors four days ago. In all but four cases, Mundy said, the individuals are represented by attorneys, and he cannot contact them directly.

The reticence of prospective witnesses to be interviewed, Mundy said, has meant that his trial preparation has been "arduous and slow." Jackson said he was not surprised, saying he doubted most of the prosecution witnesses would want to cooperate with Mundy in any case.

Jackson said that Mundy may get an extra week to conduct witness interviews because he expects the first week to be consumed by jury selection. The judge said he has summoned about 250 prospective jurors, but has received many requests to be excused.

The judge has said the first day of jury selection will be devoted to completing questionnaires expected to delve into the prospective jurors' backgrounds. Jackson is expected to bring them back in groups of 25 for more questioning. Once selected, the jurors will be sequestered during the trial, expected to last at least a month.

The Post reported Sunday that eight of the 19 alleged co-conspirators have been granted immunity in return for their testimony. But authorities said yesterday that one of the group, Hassan Hadj Mohammadi, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge.

Papers filed in U.S. District Court here say Mohammadi, a Georgetown restaurateur, pleaded guilty last Wednesday to a single count of conspiracy to possess cocaine.

The papers showed that Mohammadi, 35, entered a guilty plea to a criminal information in a case that was recorded as separate from, but related to, the indictment against Barry. It was not clear which federal judge presided at the plea hearing, and the case file could not be located yesterday. Mohammadi's attorney, Mitchell Rogovin, said on Sunday that no such plea had been entered.

Barry, whose supporters formed a legal defense fund shortly after his arrest, said raising the money for Mundy's fees will be "no problem." "If we need more, we go raise more," he said.

Some of the fund-raising practices for the trust fund have been sharply criticized by D.C. campaign finance officials.

The mayor made it clear politics, especially running for mayor again, remain a priority for him. Barry said he will meet later this week with Anita Bonds, his campaign manager, to discuss strategies for collecting the minimum 2,000 voter signatures he needs to be on the ballot in the fall.

Barry said $75,000 remains in his campaign treasury, an amount the mayor said would be enough to carry it through July 4.

Mundy also said yesterday that he would not present a defense based on Barry's alcohol abuse. Prosecutor Richard W. Roberts had asked the judge to order Mundy to provide the mayor's medical records, but withdrew the request after Mundy said no defense witness would testify about the mayor's drinking problem.

Barry underwent almost two months of treatment for alcohol abuse in Florida and South Carolina after he was arrested in January.

While saying he fully expected to mount a successful defense at his trial, the mayor said he had talked at length with his wife, Effi, and his son, Christopher, and that they understood what could happen if he is convicted.

"She and I have talked about a worst-case scenario. She understands that, {and} may not like it," Barry said. "Christopher and I have been talking about it. He's in pretty good shape for a 9-year-old."

Staff writer Tracy Thompson contributed to this report.