House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) demanded ABC News provide lawmakers with more information over its decision not to run a story on the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein several years before his arrest on a spate of sex trafficking charges.
McCarrthy sent a letter to ABC News’ president, James Goldston, on Sunday following the leak of a hot mic recording featuring the network’s Amy Robach. In the footage, which was posted online by the right-wing group Project Veritas, Robach stated that her employer “quashed” a story on Epstein after she spoke with one of his accusers, who she said told her “everything” about his alleged history of sexual abuse of minors.
The interview was conducted in 2015, but never aired, which Robach said left her “pissed.” Epstein was arrested earlier this year and had been awaiting trial for a bevy of charges related to sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking. He died of an apparent suicide in August while in custody.
“What appears to have been presented to Ms. Robach is first-hand evidence of human trafficking,” McCarthy wrote in the letter, which was also signed by Reps. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.). “I am 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.”
The document was first obtained by journalist Megan Kelly. McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The hot mic footage has prompted renewed scrutiny over Epstein’s alleged history of impropriety and an extraordinarily lenient sentence he received as part of a 2008 plea deal in Florida.
Robach has pushed back on the characterization of her comments in the footage, saying the remarks were a “private moment of frustration” while defending the network’s efforts to investigate the Epstein story. ABC has also defended its decision, saying the footage didn’t meet its standards and lacked corroborating evidence at the time.
“I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations,” she said in a statement to HuffPost. She also noted that “no one ever told me or the team to stop reporting on Jeffrey Epstein, and we have continued to aggressively pursue this important story.”
Despite those assurances, McCarthy and his colleagues demanded ABC News answer questions about its decision to spike the story, including its investigations into Epstein after Robach’s reporting failed to move forward. They also asked to be provided the interview she conducted with the victim she spoke with.
“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,” they wrote.
Read the full letter here.