Media Blog

“Libel and Defamation”

Looks like Hastert might be working up a lawsuit:

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

ABC News, completely undeterred, has an update:

Federal law enforcement sources told ABC News Wednesday that Abramoff has been questioned about his relationship with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
“He is very much in the mix,” a federal law enforcement official told ABC News about Hastert. The official said Hastert is not considered a formal “subject” or “target” at this time.
Since our report, the Justice Department has twice denied that Hastert is under investigation or “in the mix.”
Speaker Hastert called the ABC News report “totally untrue.”

How could somebody be “in the mix” without being “considered a formal ‘subject’ or ‘target’ of the investigation? This is nonsense! ”In the mix” is a phrase that is utterly without meaning in a legal context. The Department of Justice is not a bakery, Alberto Gonzales is not a bartender, and Dennis Hastert is not an ingredient.

Keep at it, ABC News, and enjoy the litigation.