WASHINGTON – The more we learn about the disappearance of Chandra Levy, the more we understand why investigators have such an interest in Rep. Gary Condit.
Although Washington, D.C., police continue to say that the California Democrat is not a suspect, they do confirm that Condit has now admitted to a sexual relationship with the missing Washington intern. They also say he was less than forthcoming in previous interviews.
Condit lied to his staff, and his staff in turn passed that lie on to the media. Chandra's mother, Susan Levy, said she asked Condit directly during a phone call if he was having a sexual relationship with her daughter — and he told her no.
There are other circumstances that raise questions.
Condit told police his last conversation with Levy was on April 29, the day before she disappeared. What was said now takes on additional significance, because it took place about the same time that Levy left an upbeat message on her aunt's answering machine saying that she had "big news."
Much has been made of the fact that Condit put up a $10,000 reward for information about Levy's whereabouts.
It was publicly announced 10 days after the intern's disappearance, but there are indications that Condit first offered to put up that money during a phone conversation with Susan Levy around May 3 or 4.
Mrs. Levy said she asked Condit: "Do you know where she is?" Levy said Condit responded that he didn't know, but would put up the reward.
That conversation took place even before police were alerted to Susan and Robert Levy's concerns about their daughter's whereabouts. But if it was the first time Condit had heard that Levy might be missing, why would he instantly assume the worst — and offer a reward?
Investigators no doubt want to know why Condit allegedly called flight attendant Anne Marie Smith, who says she had a 10-month affair with the congressman, a day or so later and told her he was going to have to disappear for a while.
"I said, 'Well are you in trouble, is it your job? Is it your family?'" Smith said. "And he said, 'No, none of that, but I think I may be in some trouble.'"
And why did Condit send over and ask Smith to sign an affidavit that Smith says is an inaccurate representation of their relationship?
Finally, Condit's wife, Carolyn, made a rare visit to Washington and stayed at the congressman's apartment just about the time Levy vanished.
The timing of her visit and her proximity to all these events may explain why police have been so interested in talking to her.