In a story published Tuesday morning, ABC News reporters Rhonda Schwartz and Brian Ross wrote that they had conducted video interviews last fall with the same prostitutes The Daily Caller featured in a 2012 exposé about New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. ABC News is also claiming one of those prostitutes is the same woman who swore out an affidavit in the Dominican Republic on Monday recanting what she says she claimed last October.
But there is no evidence that Nexis de Los Santos Santana, a 23-year-old woman whose signature appears on the affidavit, is the same woman The Daily Caller featured in a published video interview. And many inconsistencies suggest that she may be someone different.
The Daily Caller, which broke the story Nov. 1, is not mentioned in the affidavit. De los Santos did not deliver a statement in person, and has not been made available for interviews. And the 2012 interview she describes bears little resemblance to the one TheDC conducted and published.
De los Santos said Monday in her statement that she was recorded secretly. TheDC conducted its videotaped interview openly. Both women who appeared on camera wore wired microphones voluntarily.
De los Santos also said she was paid to implicate Sen. Menendez in prostitution, along with longtime donor Salomon Melgen and Melgen’s cousin, the Dominican politician Vinicio Castillo Seman. Neither woman TheDC interviewed mentioned Castillo, and neither could identify Melgen from a photograph during the interviews.
The Washington Post was first to report on the affidavit, with a story published shortly before 5 p.m. Monday concluding that de los Santos was definitely one of TheDC’s interview subjects. (RELATED: Post report confuses one prostitute with another in bid to debunk Menendez allegations)
But the Post, which interviewed no one in the Dominican Republic for its story and relied entirely on the uncorroborated affidavit, has since quietly backed away from that claim, softening the language in its article without acknowledging that it has been edited. (RELATED: Post quietly makes major change to Menendez story)
The Post, repeating allegations from the affidavit, reported that an attorney provided de los Santos with “a script and paid her to read the claims aloud.” But TheDC’s interviews were conducted as a series of unscripted questions and answers, a different format entirely.
The Miami Herald, too, reported that de los Santos was “was one of two women who appeared in videos” that The Daily Caller published.
But the Herald also spoke to Dominican lawyer Melanio Figueroa, whom de los Santos and her attorney Miguel Galván accused of setting up a pay-for-play interview to embarrass Menendez, Melgen and Castillo.
Figueroa, who has previously represented the women appearing in TheDC’s Nov. 1 video report, called the statements from de los Santos and her attorney “totally false.”
“These are lies by Galván,” Figueroa said. “What he is saying is a lie.”
Schwartz, one of the journalists who reported ABC’s story about its own past interviews, also received copies in May 2012 of a cache of emails implicating Sen. Menendez in prostitution-related activities in the Dominican Republic.
The documents came from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal advocacy group that received them from an anonymous whistle-blower and later handed them over to the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation. Among other things, those files contained statements from women who said they were 16 years old when they began having sex with Menendez for money.
The documents surfaced publicly more than 8 months later, after Menendez won re-election to his U.S. Senate seat. ABC has not published or aired any original reporting on Menendez’s connections with prostitutes, despite being the first news outlet to have that information.
In late February The Daily Caller published a story based on multiple interviews with an Ameican escort who said Menendez was a past client. Menendez, the woman said in reference to her fellow high-priced prostitutes, is “quite a hobbyist. He sees a lot of girls.” (RELATED: Long-time escort confirms Sen. Bob Menendez paid her for sex)