House Speaker Claims ABC Knew Leaked Information Was False

May 25, 2006  •  Post A Comment

ABC News said Thursday it is standing by an exclusive report by chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross that House Speaker Dennis Hastert is under investigation for bribery.

The Illinois Republican has demanded a retraction of the story, which he claims is libelous and based on information ABC News knew was inaccurate and that was leaked by the Justice Department in an attempt to intimidate Rep. Hastert.

Mr. Ross said in his report Wednesday on “World News Tonight” that “federal officials tell us the bribery investigation [resulting from the plea agreement of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff] now includes the speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, based on the testimony from convicted lobbyists.”

Lawyers for Rep. Hastert wrote a letter to ABC News President David Westin in which they noted that the Justice Department had issued a statement saying it is not investigating the speaker.

“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,” Rep. Hastert’s lawyers wrote.

ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said Thursday, “Our response to the letter is our reporting on the story.”