The lawyer for Anne Marie Smith, the flight attendant who says she had an affair with embattled Rep. Gary Condit, said on Fox News Sunday he plans to take legal action Monday against the California Democrat.
Meanwhile, a California paper renewed its call for the congressman to resign, and sources tell Fox News that Condit's district may be redrawn in order to gracefully deny him re-election.
Without stating exactly what claim he would file against Condit, Jim Robinson, Smith's attorney, said that it would be related to Condit's nationally televised interview with ABC's Connie Chung this past Thursday night.
Condit denied to Chung that he had had a relationship with Smith, who had earlier said that the FBI had interviewed her about her affair with the congressman in relation to another affair he was allegedly having with 24-year-old missing intern Chandra Levy.
Levy disappeared on May 1, shortly after her internship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons ended. Washington, D.C., police said that Condit only admitted having had an affair with her in his third interview with them, and that he tried to block the investigation into her disappearance in other ways. They still insist, however, that he is not a suspect and that there is no evidence of a crime.
On Friday, Condit backtracked a little about his denial of the relationship with Smith, telling Newsweek magazine that "In my opinion, we did not have a relationship. It would probably be her definition of a relationship versus mine."
Robinson told Fox News' Brit Hume that Condit was "back to the old Clinton playbook, except for the fact that apparently he never feels anybody's pain but his own."
When pressed by Hume whether he thought that perhaps the congressman considered his dealings with Smith "a recreational relationship," Robinson, who appeared to be a bit sleepy at 6 a.m. Seattle time, laughed but would not elaborate.
Robinson did state that he considered Condit's alleged attempts to elicit a false affidavit from Smith, in which she would swear to not having had an affair with the congressman, a criminal act.
When questioned about whether his legal action against Condit would involve the charge of suborning perjury, Robinson said that as a civil lawyer he did not have the power to bring an indictment, "[b]ut I'll be able to talk about it after I make the filing."
Smith told Fox News' Rita Cosby in July that she never signed Condit's affidavit. When the congressman's representatives challenged the existence of the document, Smith produced a copy.
Smith also told Cosby that she saw personal effects in Condit's apartment that she assumed were Levy's. Robinson said that the FBI's questioning of Smith was prompted by the bureau, which apparently already knew of his client's relationship with the congressman, and that the affidavit was intended to "impeach her testimony later."
In response to the Condit team's charges that Smith and her lawyer are only speaking out against the congressman for financial gain, Robinson told Fox News Sunday that "I have not received a dime on this case. ... She hasn't paid me, nobody's paid her. There's no money."
Condit's legal team is "between a rock and a hard place" over the affidavit, Robinson said. If Condit admits his affair with Smith, her lawyer explained, "then he admit[s] obstruction of justice and suborning perjury. ... If they say the affidavit is false, then Joe Cotchett [Condit's first lawyer] is in a whole lot of trouble."
Back in California, the largest newspaper in Condit's 18th Congressional District repeated its call for his resignation following the Connie Chung interview.
"After months of watching him stall and stonewall, Condit's weasel-like performance on Thursday was terribly disappointing," says an editorial published Friday in the Modesto Bee.
Condit lawyer Abbe Lowell said that wasn't likely to happen.
"I don't think he's considering that at all," Lowell told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.
He also said Condit's family was satisfied with the ABC interview.
"The congressman spoke to his family, they decided what they were comfortable with him saying," Lowell said. "He went out and said it in a way that he was comfortable and that they requested of him. Now if that didn't work for the American people because they wanted them, they wanted him to use the sex word, wanted him to describe details, well I get that that's not going to make him Mr. Popularity."
But even Lowell conceded that Condit's dumping an ex-girlfriend's watchbox just before an FBI search of his apartment was "a dumb thing to do." But, as for Condit's vagueness on his relationship with Levy during the Chung interview, Lowell said it was understandable.
"Perhaps he hasn't been as accurate," Lowell said. "You know what? He might be might boggling specifics in how he uses phrases. But we are talking about intimate details of human relationships."
Two dozen protesters gathered outside Condit's office in Modesto at lunchtime Saturday, shouting for him to step down.
"If he can cheat on his own commitment to his family, how's he going to treat the community?" said housewife Christine Lagow. "Especially now, after his interview, there's even more support for him to resign than there ever was before."
The Bee and several other California newspapers earlier this month called for Condit's resignation because of his silence over his relationship with Levy.
Friday's editorial echoed a chorus of negative reviews following the highly anticipated interview. From California to Capitol Hill, he was criticized for his sometimes evasive answers to Chung's questions and his lack of an apology to voters or Levy's parents.
"Instead of accepting responsibility and apologizing for this shameful conduct. Condit clung to his strategy of spin and denial," the editorial said.
Condit tried to repair the damage on Newsweek's Web site Friday.
"I sat there the whole time with Connie Chung waiting for her ask me something other than a sex question," said Condit, who acknowledged having a close relationship with the former Bureau of Prisons intern but sidestepped questions about its nature.
Sources tell Fox News that the Democrats in charge of California's congressional redistricting following the 2000 census are planning to shore up the 18th District by shifting its borders to include some staunchly Republican areas, as well as the more blue-collar, traditionally Democratic city of Stockton.
The district is at present largely rural, and voters have been supportive of Condit's middle-of-the-road voting record. The congressman is a leader of the House Blue Dog Democrats, who are more conservative than the party's mainstream and often vote with the GOP, and Condit was even briefly considered by President Bush for a Cabinet post late last year.
"It's a nice way to show Condit the door," one Democratic source told Fox News. Draft redistricting maps are expected to be released within the next two weeks.
Fox News' Rita Cosby and the Associated Press contributed to this report