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GOP Speaker Hastert accuses ABC of libel, defamation, says may take legal action

RAW STORY
Published: Thursday May 25, 2006

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Latest from REUTERS: "House Speaker Dennis Hastert might sue ABC News for libel and defamation for a news report that said he was "in the mix" in a corruption investigation, according to a letter sent by Hastert's lawyer on Thursday.

The letter from Hastert counsel J. Randolph Evans said statements in ABC's report constitute libel and defamation, and asked who could "accept service of process to remedy this intentional falsehood."

Citing anonymous law enforcement sources, ABC News reported on Wednesday that Hastert was under scrutiny in an FBI corruption investigation centered around former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

ABC updated its story later to say Hastert was not a formal "target" or "subject" of the investigation, but was "in the mix."

FULL REUTERS STORY

READ ABC NEWS STORY

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Hastert Legal Letter To ABCNEWS President Westin, sent from Hastert Communications Director Ron Bonjean to RAW STORY.

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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,” on 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

Correction: Two typographical errors have been corrected. RAW STORY originally printed the letter exactly as received.