Hastert Fights Back

The ABC News report that places House Speaker Dennis Hastert “in the mix” of a federal corruption probe reached a fever pitch when Hastert called the story “absolutely” wrong and is now demanding a retraction. ABC’s Brian Ross told the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz: “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.”

Ross’s update on the story notes that it “set off a wave of reaction” which included ABC News being “denounced by his Republican colleagues” on the House floor after Hastert brought the House to order yesterday morning. Ross also states that ABC News stands by the story.

In The WaPo, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty says the ABC report is “untrue.”

TVNewser, via Hotline, includes excepts of the letter Hastert sent to ABC’s David Westin, George Stephanopoulos and Ross accusing the network of “libel and defamation.”