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Hastert's Camp Issues Fighting Words

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:

David Westin

George Stephanopoulos
Brian Ross
ABC News
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.


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Comments (20)

Gee, I bet Hastert wishes h... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

Gee, I bet Hastert wishes he had kept his powder dry for this rather than defending the right of a congressman to take bribes and hide the evidence in his congressional office.

My guess is - nothing. ABC ... (Below threshold)
tblubrd:

My guess is - nothing. ABC won't stop till the cows come home on this one. This cow may be a huge bull. ABC has never spun their story as a correction - even printing a correction will sound like Hastert's fault.

I feel about this the way I... (Below threshold)

I feel about this the way I felt about Trent Lott's remarks at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. I have been thinking Hastert needs to go for other reasons, but these reasons will do.

Hastert, I don't really car... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

Hastert, I don't really care about ... especially after his recent bout of stupidity.

However, I want him to wring the life out of that lying fabulist hack Brian Ross' career.

Hastert's leadership, like ... (Below threshold)

Hastert's leadership, like Frist's, has been poor, in my view, but I commend him for taking this action against ABC. The time for reining in the Fourth Estate and getting it back to reporting news, rather than making it, is long overdue.

I have been thinking Has... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I have been thinking Hastert needs to go for other reasons, but these reasons will do.

What are your other reasons, may I ask? I have my own problems with Hastert, though they don't matter as he is not my Rep., though I do live very near his district and know many people who live there. Anyway I'm just curious what the conservative gripe with Hastert is.

McGehee ...I must ... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

McGehee ...

I must say I'm surprised at you.

I understand your beef with Hastert. He's something of an empty suit - he suffers when compared to past occupants of his office. And his current hobby horse is so stupid it's incandescent.

But he doesn't deserve this. He doesn't deserve what Brian Ross and ABC are trying to do to him here.

I wish he weren't Speaker. But I would sooner have him there for another decade than to have him leave under a cloud because of the lies of a sleaze artist like Brian Ross.

Maybe ABC can get Ross to a... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Maybe ABC can get Ross to attach some explsovies to his story to make it really big?

Well, I will hold out until... (Below threshold)
Schwerv:

Well, I will hold out until the investigation is over. The DOJ said that Hastert is not under investigation. This doesn't mean he will not be under investigation at some later time. Keep in mind, These are politicians we are talking about.

So ABC is just ahead of the... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

So ABC is just ahead of the newscycle, Schwerv?

It's like printing your obituary tomorrow because, we're all going to die some day.

Wow!Who do you roo... (Below threshold)
leelu:

Wow!

Who do you root for, the MSM or Congress???

My head hurts.

Everyone knows that any Con... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Everyone knows that any Congressman who's ever spoken to Abramoff is under investigation.

The story that Kim and Lorie keep missing is why is justice leaking these reports -- to ABC or to whomever -- especially at a time when Hastert is speaking up against the Jefferson search.

Lee - just my cynicism, but... (Below threshold)
JD:

Lee - just my cynicism, but could this be a Canary Trap operation?

A cynic might suggest that ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

A cynic might suggest that yes, there very well may be a great deal of interest in phone records from last night, eh JD?

What's fascinating to me is that it is so extermely rare that Justice will confirm or deny reports on who is being investigated -- they typically respond with exactly that -- "we cannot confirm or deny the report". Why did they reposnd the way they did last night? Was it a shot across Hastert's bow? Was it more than that?

You can bet that when Justice issued their denial last night, there was a phone call or two originating from ABC back to their sources. A check of phone records might just uncover the canary... but then, we both know that phone records would only be used to ferret out terrorists, right?

Now ask yourself if the Executive Branch would consider a DOJ "canary" a terrorist...?

Politics aside, leaks are dangerous, and a matter you'd expect the DOJ to take extremely serriously. Could this be a Canary Trap? We will probably never know for sure - but I can say with certainty that ABC had nothing to gain by making this up. They were told this by a source they believed.

"Why did the source leak the report?", and "Why did the DOJ so quickly and vehemently deny the report", are both very good questions.

One thing is certain--Haste... (Below threshold)
DOUG BOOK:

One thing is certain--Hastert is a dumb S.O.B. How in the world do you remove the spotlight from Jeffersons' influence peddling by making the incredible argument that house members should have immunity from a search warrant? Nobody can be that stupid! Republicans have done everything in their power to lose their majorities in the house and senate this Nov. In fact, given their pathetic performance I believe we'll see a bunch of dems retire if they are unable to take control of congress this year. They'll have to figure that taking over just isn't in the cards.

GRAMMAR PATROL ALERT!!!!!!<... (Below threshold)

GRAMMAR PATROL ALERT!!!!!!

You'd think (hope) that the counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representative (or his letter writer) would know that the PLURAL OR MR. IS MESSRS.

Sheesh I hate that.

He doesn't deserve what ... (Below threshold)

He doesn't deserve what Brian Ross and ABC are trying to do to him here.

I'm not talking about the ABC story specifically, but about the whole damn mess he's gotten himself into since Jefferson's office was searched. I wouldn't side with the drive-by media against Satan himself unless I had seen the Evil One do what he's being accused of, with my own eyes.

To answer your initial question, though, my own reasons for wanting him to go are pretty much the same as yours.

JD ...Personally, ... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

JD ...

Personally, I think Brian Ross and his "sources" (if they actually do exist) made it all up out of whole cloth.

When it comes to Brian Ross and ABC, we're dealing with fundamentally dishonest and fraudulent people.

I'd go with the FBI over them any day.

Lee is just talking out his a**.

Well, Martin, at least now ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Well, Martin, at least now we know for sure that you're paranoid.

Yes, ABC made it up because they are out to get you conservatives - better pull that tin-foil hat a little snugger - they may be scanning you right now!

And I hate the fact that my a** is on your mind, Martin - scary - I really wish you'd think about some other guy's a** instead.

Didn't say anything about w... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

Didn't say anything about why they made it up, now, did I?

    And I hate the fact that my a** is on your mind, Martin - scary - I really wish you'd think about some other guy's a** instead.

LOL.

Honestly, is this the best you can do?

PS: I bet if a Righty had said something like this, you'd be squealing "Homophobia!!!!!!!!" ...




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