By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff WriterFriday, May 26, 2006
ABC News says federal investigators have put House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) "in the mix" of their corruption probe centering on convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty says the ABC report involving Hastert -- even the "in the mix" language -- is "untrue."
Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist at the center of a wide-ranging public corruption investigation, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison on March 29, after pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that required him to provide evidence about members of Congress.
And Hastert, calling the story "absolutely" wrong, is demanding a retraction.
It is highly unusual for the Justice Department to confirm or deny that someone is under investigation. Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said that federal guidelines allow such statements in cases receiving "substantial publicity" and that the decision was based on the guidelines "combined with the inaccuracy of the information."
On "World News Tonight" Wednesday, Brian Ross, ABC's chief investigative correspondent, said the bribery probe "now includes" Hastert but cautioned that the investigation is "clearly at the very beginning. The allegations could well prove unfounded." George Stephanopoulos, the network's chief Washington correspondent, called the implications "potentially seismic."
Ross said in an interview: "I think our story is accurate. We've gone back to our sources, and they believe what we reported was accurate as they knew it. There seems to be some disconnect between what the congressman thinks, what the Justice Department thinks and what the FBI thinks. . . . There may be a semantics issue here as to what constitutes being under investigation."
Reporters for NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and other news organizations checked out ABC's report but were waved off by law enforcement officials. "Within 15 minutes, we had three or four basic denials saying in effect this was a complete overreach, and we chose not to run it," said John Reiss, executive producer of "NBC Nightly News."
Get the rest of the story here at the Washington Post.
So the drive-by media is lying once again to try and push thier own poltical agenda, big news right? Everyone has stated EXCEPT ABC that this is a false story, they continue to push the story and slam the House Speaker, who has publically ask for a withdrawl of that statement. No retraction has been forth coming. Is this another leak ? If so it's another strong signal that there are those in the government that would love nothing less than to bring down the GOP and the President, no matter what damage it may cause to the country in the long term. Brian Ross is a liar. ABC has a political agenda. Ross should be thrown into jail, but of course it's only the Republicans who live in "the culture of corruption". Don't suppose they are making this an issue out of nothing to cover one of thier own in William Jefferson, you remember him right, he used the National Gaurd during Katrina to retrieve money and personal belongings from his New Orleans home. You can't focus on that though the media wants you to think it's only the Republicans who do any wrong doing, but we know that's not true. Ross most likely will face some sort of action, I hope his ass gets fired!