FBI Expands Levy Inquiry


After two days of interviews with a flight attendant who claimed an affair with Rep. Gary A. Condit, federal investigators Thursday expanded their probe into Chandra Levy's disappearance to examine whether the congressman attempted to obstruct justice, law enforcement authorities said.

Investigators are scrutinizing contentions by 39-year-old Seattle resident Ann Marie Smith that Condit, who is married and has two grown children, called her repeatedly after Levy's May 1 disappearance and urged her to sign an affidavit that would have denied any relationship.

FBI agents working on the Levy case are expected to interview others named by Smith during six hours of interviewing Wednesday and several more hours Thursday, an official said. Smith has said that a private investigator for San Francisco attorney Joseph Cotchett, once Condit's lawyer, sent her an affidavit that would have denied a "romantic relationship."

Abbe Lowell, Condit's Washington lawyer, could not be reached.

Lowell and District of Columbia police were still stalemated Thursday over the department's efforts to administer a polygraph test to the six-term congressman from Central California.

Meanwhile, police remained mum about the evidence taken by police and FBI forensics investigators from Condit's fourth-floor condominium in the Adams-Morgan section of Washington early Wednesday.

Police also began searching abandoned buildings in dilapidated parts of the nation's capital.

The widening federal investigation into Condit's dealings with the United Airlines flight attendant does not imply that the congressman has become a criminal suspect in Chandra Levy's disappearance, the official said Thursday.

"As new leads arise, you have to see where they take you," the official said, adding that the obstruction of justice probe is "an expansion of the underlying missing persons investigation."

The official generally confirmed Smith's own reconstruction Wednesday night on Fox News that investigators had questioned her in detail about her alleged affair with Condit.

Smith has said that Condit called her repeatedly in June after his office learned that the Star tabloid was preparing an article about her and Condit. Soon after, FBI agents also contacted Smith.

In mid-June, a private investigator for Cotchett sent Smith a proposed affidavit that would have denied any relationship.

A copy of the affidavit, made available to The Times, reads: "I do not and have not had a relationship with Congressman Condit other than being acquainted with him." Printed at the bottom of the document is the name "Ann Marie Smith"--without a signature.

A July 3 statement from Cotchett's office said that the affidavit had been requested by James Robinson, Smith's Seattle lawyer.

But Smith and Robinson contend that Condit made repeated phone calls to the flight attendant in the days that followed, urging her to sign the document. She said she refused to do so.



Media: Condit coverage goes awry, Howard Rosenberg writes. But at CBS, there's no story. F1

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