Jeffrey Epstein controversy: ABC News must explain why it spiked story, House Republicans say in letter
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and two other top Republicans sent a letter to ABC News on Sunday demanding the network explain why it “quashed” ABC News anchor Amy Robach’s story that would have exposed allegations against the now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein three years ago.
The letter, to ABC News President James Goldston, was first reported by Megyn Kelly, formerly of Fox News. House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mike McCaul of Texas and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins of Georgia also signed it.
Video captured Robach on a hot mic claiming higher-ups at her network killed the story. The footage was published earlier this month by Project Veritas, whose controversial founder, James O'Keefe, has described himself as a “guerrilla journalist.” The video included Robach saying ABC refused to air an interview she conducted with one of Epstein’s victims.
ABC NEWS' AMY ROBACH CAUGHT ON HOT MIC SAYING NETWORK SPIKED JEFFREY EPSTEIN BOMBSHELL
Project Veritas said an ABC News insider leaked the hot-mic outburst.
“I’ve had the story for three years. ... We would not put it on the air,” Robach said on the hot mic. “Um, first of all, I was told, who’s Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.”
She also said she tried to get the interview on the air for three years “to no avail.”
Less than two weeks after the footage was published, the House Republicans wrote the letter, asserting, “What appears to have been presented to Ms. Robach is first-hand evidence of human trafficking.”
They noted they were “deeply concerned that this victim, in search of justice, went to ABC News, provided information and an interview and then ABC News chose to bury the truth. This was a decision that Ms. Robach alluded was due to protecting powerful people or financial interests.”
Robach admitted the authenticity of the video, which has not been independently verified by Fox News, but dismissed the notion of unethical journalism.
“As a journalist, as the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was caught in a private moment of frustration. I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with [Epstein accuser] Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations,” Robach said in a statement provided to Fox News earlier this month.
McCarthy, R-Calif., and the other Republicans wrote in the Sunday letter, “Although it is unclear whether anyone thought to alert authorities to further examine these deeply disturbing allegations, it is clear that ABC News’ enabling of Mr. Epstein has consequences: fewer victims willing to come forward to bring perpetrators of this modern-day slavery to justice and, more grievously, the possibility that any number of minors could have been spared from human trafficking over the past three years.”
The three Republicans wrote that they were requesting more information from ABC News. They asked if the network will provide Congress with the interview Robach conducted with the victim, what ABC News learned about Epstein after Robach first presented her story to executives and who was involved in deciding the story was not of public interest as well as any rationale for that decision.
They also asked if ABC was ever presented with additional evidence on Epstein from the time Robach first brought her investigation to the network and when he ultimately was arrested. The letter asked if law enforcement was alerted at any time after Robach presented ABC News executives with her reporting, and if so, when and what was provided.
ABC did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
THE AMY ROBACH VIDEO LEAKER IS ALL ANYBODY AT ABC NEWS CAN TALK ABOUT, SOURCES SAY
Earlier this month, responding to the published video, an ABC News spokesperson told Fox News the Epstein story wasn’t fit to air.
“At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story. Ever since, we’ve had a team on this investigation and substantial resources dedicated to it,” the spokesperson said. “That work has led to a two-hour documentary and 6-part podcast that will air in the new year.”
ABC later identified who the network had accused leaked the footage and reportedly worked with CBS, her current employer, to get her fired.
“ABC News’ initial response and subsequent actions reveal their priority is to identify and hold accountable the individual who released the video to the public,” McCarthy wrote in Sunday’s letter. “We believe that uncovering the source of the information is incomparably less important than the possibility of exposing the source of a human trafficking operation.”
The letter concluded, “It is imperative that the public be assured newsroom decisions regarding exposing human trafficking are not tampered by financial interests or outside forces.”
Epstein was found dead this past August in his Manhattan prison cell while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
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Prosecutors alleged that the convicted sex offender paid girls as young as 14 hundreds of dollars for massages before he molested them in his homes in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., between 2002 and 2005.
Fox News’ Brian Flood, Nick Givas and Melissa Leon contributed to this report.