This partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, August 23, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.
BRIT HUME, HOST: Back with our panel talking about the interview conducted earlier today for air tonight by Connie Chung with Congressman Gary Condit. He says that his relationship -- Connie Chung has now said in the aftermath of the interview that he told her there was a close relationship lasting about five months, said he was not in love with her, that he liked her very much. Would not say -- he said they never experienced a cross word. He would not say whether or not they had sexual relations.
He says that he answered every single question truthfully from the first interview, that he did nothing to slow down the investigation. No one in Washington, he claims, has been more cooperative than he has. On their final conversation -- you know, the one where she -- she had called him a number of times, said something about that she had some big news to report, he says that she wasn't frantic, that they discussed travel plans back to California, she was not upset. And he called her a couple of days later and she didn't return the call. As for the big news, she apparently (UNINTELLIGIBLE) discuss it and he didn't know what it was.
Now I think we have a firmer, sort of a fuller picture of what this interview is going to be and do. Juan, is this a wise course for him or does he -- is this going to work?
JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I've got to say something, it's baffling to me. I really don't get it. I -- I -- you know, he's been here in Washington for seven terms. He's got good political advisers. But this seems to me to be surrender.
There's no apology, as Bill Kristol said earlier. I don't see any sense in which he's helping people to understand, as Jeff Birnbaum was talking about, understand what happened and his participation. To the contrary, it seems it me he's stonewalling. He's also got a rally planned, I understand, of his supporters.
This is, it seems to me, sort of obscene.
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Here's what -- here's what I think he's doing. He's not an unintelligent man, Condit.
HUME: He's not unintelligent.
KRISTOL: Not unintelligent, no, no. He wants to distract everyone into a debate about whether he has to say he had sexual relations with Chandra Levy or not. And in fact, lots of Americans are going to be sympathetic to the point, as in a way they should be, that it really isn't no one's business whether they were close friends or intimate friends. That really is a personal matter. And he wants to distract everyone away from the legitimate question, which is was he involved in her disappearance.
HUME: Of course, he says -- he says here as well he had nothing to do with...
KRISTOL: But also, did he really impede the investigation? And all of the kind particular pieces of evidence would suggest he did impede the investigation. He wants to distract attention from that. He wants to get all of us talking about, gee, he has to say -- apologize for having had a sexual relationship. And he'll say, look, the media is being intrusive here, it's like Clinton, that's a personal matter, I'm sorry she's disappeared. And really obscure things.
JEFF BIRNBAUM, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: That's one direction to go, and I agree that there might be some element of the population that would accept a zone of privacy, to use a Clinton term. But what he is forgetting is that there will be reaction from the Levy family, and my guess it will be quite hostile. And I think the investigators will put the lie to what he's saying: about how cooperative he is and how he asked the FBI to come in, that he answered all questions.
Everything we've been led to believe is that it's quite the opposite. that it took four interviews for them to get even the basics from him.
HUME: Let's get -- let's ask the final question here.
HUME: If all these things are known or believed, that he did these things, that he had this affair, that he was evasive about it and so forth, what -- why? Why is he doing this? Why is he continuing to hold out now? In other words, why has he chosen this course?
KRISTOL: I think the most logical answer -- you want my honest speculation -- is that he's complicit in her disappearance, and he correctly thinks that pure stonewalling is the best way to avoid criminal danger.
HUME: In other words, he'll accept the political trouble...
HUME: ... but he can't accept the possible legal trouble -- your suggestion is that he can take the political trouble and prefer that to the legal trouble that admissions would bring.
Jeff, does that make sense to you?
BIRNBAUM: It makes sense. But I -- my guess is...
HUME: Can you think of another explanation?
BIRNBAUM: Yes. Another explanation is that he believes that he would be -- would certainly be out of a political job if he admitted having a sexual relationship with a young intern, one of his own constituents.
HUME: But the fact is he's not quite denying it. He says -- he won't -- he won't say.
BIRNBAUM: Yes, but this middle ground gives him some sort of cover. He says, OK, yes, we were sleeping together for five months and she was after me and I said no. If he was completely honest, he thinks that that would be worse than taking a more principled stand, if that is possible in this, and saying, I deserve some privacy.
HUME: I know, but...
BIRNBAUM: No, I'm not sure that that...
HUME: But let's assume -- but Juan, let me -- if you -- if you were baffled in political terms, does Bill's suggestion of an explanation make sense to you, that this is what he's doing, because he's going to take the political, that he's worried about something worse?
WILLIAMS: It does make sense to me, because, look, all the evidence...
HUME: It does?
WILLIAMS: Yes, all the evidence to me would suggest that he is acting like a guilty man, and therefore, he's got criminal troubles to worry about. And you know, being in jail is much worse than being out of office. Being out of office is somewhat secondary to that.
You know -- you know, Bill said this thing about, oh, you know, distracting people -- we've got two women who say that he was pressuring them to be silent. That's tough.
HUME: All right. Juan Williams, that's the last word. Thanks, everybody. That's all the time we have for the panel.
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