In response ABC News’ assertion that Speaker Dennis Hastert is under investigation by the Department of Justice or “in the mix” as it has been said, Speaker Hastert’s attorneys sent this letter to the president of ABC David Westin and the others involved:
7 West 66th St.
New York, NY 10023
RE: False Story Regarding Justice Department Investigation
Dear Mr. Westin, Stephanopoulos, and Mr. Ross:
At 7:25 p.m., the Statement of the Department of Justice confirmed:
“Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.”
At 10:21 p.m., you wrote:
“Whether they like it or not, members of Congress, including Hastert, are under investigation,” one federal official said tonight.”
This statement is false, and your republication of it after actual knowledge of its falsity constitutes libel and defamation. ABC News’ continued publication of this false information, after having actual knowledge of its falsity, evidences a specific and malicious intent to injure and damage Speaker Hastert’s reputation by continued repetition of a known falsehood.
We will take any and all actions necessary to rectify the harm ABC has caused and to hold those at ABC responsible for their conduct.
Please advise regarding who will accept service of process to remedy this intentional falsehood.
Very truly yours,
J. Randolph Evans
Stefan C. Passantino
Counsel to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert
What say you ABC?
Update: ABC has decided to stand by its story in spite of the fact that the DOJ has denied every version of Brian Ross’ article.
“Our response to the letter is our reporting on the story,” said ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider.
Correspondent Brian Ross stood by his report, saying he has checked with his sources who say the story accurately represents the facts “as they know them.”
“There’s enough there for them (the FBI) to take a look at the speaker” and other members of Congress, Ross said in an interview.
Says who? Brian Ross or the Department of Justice? The DOJ said publicly in a press statement that it is not looking at the speaker. Just because he thinks there is enough evidence against Hastert that the FBI should investigate the speaker doesn’t mean that actually is the case. And Brian Ross’ comment that his sources say that the “story accurately represents the facts ‘as they know them'” in spite of the DOJ’s statement says that Ross’ sources don’t know the facts.