Arrangements appeared to be in the offing Wednesday for a fourth police interview of Rep. Gary Condit (D-Ceres) in the two-month-old investigation of Chandra Levy's disappearance--while one of Condit's longtime Democratic House colleagues lashed out at the congressman's conduct.
In the sternest rebuke from a fellow Democrat since Levy disappeared May 1, Rep. Charles W. Stenholm (D-Texas), a fellow leader of the conservative Democratic "Blue Dog" caucus, said that Condit "has brought controversy and discredit to his family, his district and the Congress."
Stenholm did not specify his criticism but appeared to refer to reports of Condit's belated acknowledgment to police that he had an affair with Levy.
Though urging Condit to "be 100% forthcoming and cooperative," Stenholm stopped short of calling for the congressman's resignation. "It remains the prerogative of each congressional district to elect who they wish."
There was no immediate comment from Condit aides, who indicated Wednesday that the congressman was preparing to sit down with FBI agents and District of Columbia police investigators this week. The interview--the fourth between investigators and Condit--would occur most likely Friday, the day his congressional schedule is lightest, a source said.
Authorities say they still need a detailed account of Condit's final contacts with Levy and are trying to fill gaps in a partial timeline the congressman and his staff have provided to them.
Sources said it is likely that an FBI psychological profiler who has been working for several weeks on a detailed portrait of Levy will take part in the meeting. So will police detectives and FBI agents who recently joined the investigation as part of a team that probes unsolved cases.
Several sources familiar with the Levy case suggested this week that the FBI may have also begun constructing a detailed profile of Condit. Police have said repeatedly that Condit is not a suspect in Levy's disappearance, and they have no evidence that a crime was committed.
But in recent weeks, FBI agents have interviewed former Condit staffers and acquaintances in Washington, Modesto and other parts of Northern California--often asking more about Condit than about Levy.
"They're obviously putting all that information they're getting [on Condit] to good use," one official said.
Federal officials questioning flight attendant Anne Marie Smith have also asked her detailed questions about Condit's schedule, habits and personal quirks. Smith, who has alleged a 10-month affair with Condit, has claimed that he tried to persuade her to lie about their relationship. Condit has denied trying to pressure Smith.
Officials also said Wednesday they will probably question at least two senior Condit aides as part of their effort to learn if there has been any attempt to conceal information or alter testimony in the Levy probe.
Investigators are interested in talking to Condit about a witness' account that he saw the congressman toss a watch case into a trash can in Alexandria, Va., hours before his Washington condominium was searched by police July 10. The watch case was recovered and traced to a former female Condit staffer in San Francisco, an official said.
According to officials, the eyewitness reported that Condit hurried back to a car driven by another man moments after disposing of the watch case. And one source said that several weeks ago investigators also searched a car owned by one of Condit's aides and sometimes driven by the congressman.
"We just want to talk with some of his people about their role in any of this," an official said.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Chandra Levy's parents accused Condit of ducking a proposed meeting between them and private investigators working for the family.
Attorney William R. "Billy" Martin said Wednesday that he had written to Condit's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, on July 9 asking if Condit would be willing to be interviewed by two former D.C. police homicide detectives who now work as investigators for the family.
Martin said Lowell had indicated he might be willing to allow such an interview if "it did not impede the authorities' investigation." Martin said police had informed him they would not stand in the way of the interview.
But when he wrote Lowell that the path was clear, Martin said, Condit's lawyer responded that he was willing to set up a meeting between himself and Martin, not between Condit and the investigators.
"That's not being cooperative," Martin said.
Lowell could not be reached for comment.
Searchers continued looking for Levy on Wednesday, again picking their way through portions of Rock Creek Park in Washington.