Crisis in Condit Country
- July 2, 2001: A flight attendant goes public about her relationship with Rep. Gary Condit.
- July 4: Condit misses the Fourth of July parade in Modesto for the first time in nearly 20 years.
- July 5: Chandra Levy's aunt, Linda Zamsky, goes public with details she says Chandra has given her about Condit. That day, police interview Condit's wife, Carolyn.
- July 6: Police interview Condit for the third time.
On July 5, as Zamsky was going before the cameras, police were interviewing Condit's wife, Carolyn, in an FBI office near the Tysons Corner Center. It was the "circumstance" that prevented the Condits from attending the Fourth of July parade in Modesto. Also in the meeting were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara Kittay and Heidi Pasichow. The prosecutors were assigned to supervise the investigation, guiding detectives and FBI agents to ensure that they were putting together a court-ready case.
Kittay had worked as a prosecutor in Philadelphia and at the Justice Department before joining the U.S. attorney's office in Washington. Pasichow was a veteran of the D.C. office, serving as a deputy of its homicide division at one point. Both women had won convictions in a number of high-profile cases. Now they were focusing on Gary Condit.
Carolyn Condit was slender and attractive, a kind, thoughtful woman who had been an asset to the congressman's political career. She said she had a close relationship with her husband of 34 years. They talked twice every day, and he returned to their California home in Ceres almost every weekend.
The investigators wanted to know when she first heard about Chandra. Carolyn Condit described the phone call she received on May 6 from Robert Levy, who wanted to talk to her husband about his missing daughter.
Carolyn told the investigators that the missing intern and her husband were just friends. They asked if she was aware that Chandra had visited her husband's apartment as "just friends."
The Condits' attorney, Abbe Lowell, interrupted, instructing Carolyn not to answer by invoking the marital privilege. Jack Barrett, the chief of D.C. detectives, who supervised the case, was uncomfortable with the tenor of the questioning by the prosecutors. It was "very combative," Barrett recalled. Kittay said she was just trying to elicit information. "It wasn't hostile," she said.
During the three-hour interview, Carolyn was asked to account for her whereabouts around the time Chandra went missing. She said she flew to Washington on April 28 for a luncheon event for first lady Laura Bush at the Washington Hilton. While she was in town, she stayed with her husband at his Adams Morgan apartment and met him for brunch and dinner. One day, they shopped together in the neighborhood. After the May 3 luncheon, she flew home to Ceres.
The next day, July 6, Barrett had a private meeting with Lowell at a Starbucks at Seventh and H streets, across from the colorful, seven-roofed wooden archway in Washington's tiny Chinatown.
During their initial search of Chandra's apartment, Barrett's detectives found a pair of black panties stained with semen along with other dirty laundry in a Williams-Sonoma bag on the breakfast countertop. The prosecutors wanted to know if the semen belonged to Gary Condit or if Chandra was seeing another man. A DNA test was the only way to find out.
During the Starbucks meeting, Lowell said his client would consent to a third interview and answer detailed questions about his relationship with Chandra. Lowell and Barrett agreed to put the question of a DNA test aside for the moment.
At 8:30 that night Condit sat down with Barrett, lead Detective Ralph Durant and Kittay, the prosecutor, in Lowell's downtown Washington office.
Kittay pressed the congressman to be precise about the nature of his friendship with Chandra. Condit stated that the relationship started in November 2000. He said Chandra came over to his Adams Morgan apartment a couple of times a week, usually showing up in her gym outfit and carrying a backpack with a change of clothes. Condit also admitted giving Chandra a gold bracelet; in a previous interview with police he denied that he had.
Kittay then asked questions about other women. Lowell objected. Finally, Kittay asked Condit to submit to a DNA test. Lowell blew up. He and Kittay began yelling at each other.
"It was like an atomic bomb going off," Barrett recalled. He said he and Condit looked at each other, and both rolled their eyes.
Lowell abruptly ended the meeting and told the police and the prosecutor to leave his office.