U.S. Congressman Gary Condit was the focus of an intense media frenzy in the spring of 2001 when he was investigated in the disappearance of 24-year-old Chandra Levy, an intern for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Levy's body was found in a Washington, D.C., park in May 2002, but no one has ever been charged with her murder and police have not named any suspects.
In exclusive deposition tapes obtained by NBC News, Condit speaks about his friendship with Levy. The tapes are part of an $11 million defamation lawsuit Condit has filed against Court TV anchor Dominic Dunne over some of his reporting in the Levy case.
Former U.S. Representative Gary Condit: I swear to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth….
Attorney: Can you in general terms describe your relationship with Ms. Levy?
Condit: We were friends.
Attorney: Did your relationship ever become a romantic relationship?
Attorney: When you say you were friends, did it ever become more than just friendship?
The married 56-year-old from northern California insisted it was never more than that.
Attorney: Did she ever indicate that she loved you?
Attorney: Did you and Chandra Levy ever discuss your marriage?
Attorney: Did you ever discuss your wife with Ms. Levy?
As the deposition continues, Condit acknowledges that the relationship with Levy was ongoing but insists that it was limited, before his lawyer objects to the line of questioning from Dominic Dunne's attorney.
Attorney: Did this relationship continue steadily throughout the time you knew her before she disappeared?
Attorney: Did she ever discuss having a relationship that was more than friends at some future date?
Lin Wood (Condit’s attorney): I'm going to object, excuse me….
Condit: I'm sorry….
Mr. Wood: … to the extent that it seeks to go into areas of sexual conduct.
Next month, however, Condit will face another round of questions about any possible sexual relationship he and Levy may have had in the months leading up to her disappearance.
Speculation over the nature of Condit's friendship with Levy dominated the news for months in 2001, a period Condit recalled during the deposition:
Condit: Her disappearance and the whereabouts of her was all over TV, and there were news people who wanted to talk to me around the clock. It was not comfortable because they were everywhere.
Many at the time said Condit was not forthcoming enough and that he didn't show enough concern, fueling speculation he was somehow involved in her disappearance, a charge he dismissed as ludicrous.
Condit: I'm not obligated to hold a news conference every five minutes to deny some stupid charge that someone has made.
Condit believes the media misrepresented his relationship with Levy — that it wasn't as close as reported in the press. Under oath, he denies ever visiting her apartment.
Attorney: You've never seen her apartment?
Condit: I just told you I didn't go to her apartment, so that means I didn't see it.
Hetestifies they met only six or seven times at his Capitol Hill office — and only once at a restaurant.
Condit: I was having dinner at a place near my house. She called me. I said “I'm having dinner.” She wanted to talk, and I said I'll be down at this particular place. And I was there. She showed up.
Attorney: Did you leave with her?
Condit: We walked out together. She took a taxi. I walked home.
Attorney: What did she want to talk to you about?
Condit: Her career. She wanted to try and get into the FBI or the CIA. She had a variety of theories that she wanted to bounce off me; how the best way [was] to do it.
Attorney: What did you tell her?
Condit: I told her she should take a foreign language if she wants to get into the CIA or the FBI. There was a real absence of people who spoke foreign languages. I mean, that's the nut and shell of what I told her.
At the time Levy disappeared, Condit was working on his bid for reelection. But, he says, all the speculation surrounding him affected him both personally and professionally.
Condit: I had some emotional trauma during that, but I was so busy campaigning that I took very little time out to deal with that. So I dealt with that more seriously after the campaign.
Attorney: You lost the election. That was the first election you'd ever lost, is that correct?
Attorney: In 30 years of public service?
Condit: That's correct.
Attorney: Did you suffer any depression after losing the election?
Condit: Ah, yes, yes. But not based on the loss of the election.
What prompted Condit's lawsuit and his subsequent deposition were comments like this by Court TV anchor and well-known crime writer Dominic Dunne:
Dunne: They may not have called him a suspect, but I believe he was a suspect without being called one.
Dunne was infuriated Condit was running for reelection while Levy was still missing.
Dunne: Chandra Levy had been forgotten practically since 9/11. Congressman Condit had been involved with her romantically right up to her disappearance, and in his announcement there was no word and no feeling from him about her and I just wanted to bring Chandra Levy up again.
Now Condit is fighting back with his $11 million defamation suit against Dunne.
Condit: I have a guy that's on Court TV, who writes books, who has legitimacy, credibility, telling people on TV that Gary Condit had Middle Eastern people organized to do away with this woman. How absurd, how lame. But it hurt. And it hurt me badly. It shut me down.
It's been four years since Chandra Levy disappeared, and her murder remains an unsolved crime. Washington, D.C., police and the FBI say the investigation is ongoing.
TOMORROW: More allegations Dominic Dunne made about Gary Condit's alleged involvement with Chandra Levy's disappearance.