Get the latest from TODAY
Speaking out for the first time since the disappearance and murder of government intern Chandra Levy led to the end of his political career, former congressman Gary Condit is insisting he never had a close relationship with her.
At the time of Levy's disappearance in 2001, Condit denied any involvement and was quickly dismissed as a suspect by investigators. But there was media speculation that the married California congressman was having an affair with the 24-year-old intern.
Condit, 68, writes about the scandal in his new book, "Actual Malice." He also spoke with Dr. Phil McGraw about Levy in a spot that will air Thursday on the "Dr. Phil" show. McGraw offered Joe Fryer a preview on TODAY Wednesday.
"Gary Condit would want me to say this — he doesn't feel like he's the victim in this,'' McGraw told Fryer. "He feels that Chandra Levy and the Levy family are the victim in this."
In May 2002, Levy's remains were found in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Condit, who lost his House re-election bid that same year, maintained he and Levy barely knew each other outside of work.
"I saw her one time outside the office, at a restaurant and she came by my condo once,'' Condit said of their relationship. "Once, maybe twice, but again, I want to make clear there's nothing unusual about someone coming by my condo — a lot of people did, so people have made some speculation about that meaning something special."
He also claimed the police misconstrued his relationship with Levy.
"They were trying to make something out of anything they could,'' he said.
After Levy's disappearance, her aunt told reporters that Levy confided in her that she was having an affair with Condit and that he gave her several gifts, including Godiva chocolates and a gold bracelet.
Condit told McGraw he often kept gifts in his office and that he did give her a gold bracelet, but it wasn’t a romantic gesture.
"Chandra came into my office, she had a gift for me, which was chocolates, and I open my door, reached in and said, 'We have one for you from the office. You're graduating, you're getting your master's degree, (I'm) really proud of you,''' Condit told McGraw.
The insinuations about a romance particularly bothered Condit because he said he was the one who launched the investigation into her disappearance. He said he received a phone call from her father, who was concerned about her whereabouts.
"He knew that I was her congressman and that she had come by the office, and he had no other connections in Washington, D.C., so he called me,'' Condit said. "I had made a commitment to Dr. and Mrs. Levy that I would do everything to get the police engaged."
In 2010, Ingmar Guandique, who was already serving time for sexual assault, was charged and found guilty of Levy's murder. However, after a new trial was ordered this year, prosecutors dropped the charges, saying they could no longer prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
"And the unfinished business is that no one is currently being held accountable for what happened to Chandra Levy, and that's painful for (Condit),'' McGraw said.
Now a political consultant, the former California congressman decided to speak out now at the urging of his children and because he feels like he was "convicted in the court of public opinion," McGraw said.
"(Condit) feels that there is a large body of evidence known by a small group of people that does exonerate him,'' McGraw told Fryer.
Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.