The lawyer who represented three women who accused New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez of employing their services as prostitutes now says he made up the entire thing at the behest of multiple American media outlets.
Melanio Figueroa, who stands accused by Dominican National Police of paying women to fabricate stories about sleeping with Menendez for money, told Dominican investigators Thursday that news outlets are to blame for the plot.
Figueroa blamed four news outlets — CNN, The Daily Caller, Telemundo and Univision — for allegedly encouraging him to fabricate false accusations about Menendez. Pressed further by investigators, Figueroa alleged that a man employed by this news site named “Carlos” offered the lawyer $5,000 to invent the prostitution allegations, according to a Thursday evening television report by Univision.
Univision reported that Figueroa alleges he used that money to find three women who would volunteer tales of sleeping with an American senator.
TheDC categorically denies those claims.
“It seems clear to me Figueroa is under pressure to change his story,” Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson said Friday morning. “What I know for certain is this claim is a lie. The Daily Caller never paid anyone, was never asked to pay anyone and of course never would pay anyone for this story.”
No person by the name “Carlos” ever traveled to the Dominican Republic on TheDC’s behalf.
But The Daily Caller has learned that a man who identified himself as “Carlos” to ABC News was also the translator — provided by Figueroa — who appeared in TheDC’s late-October interviews. At no time did TheDC offer to compensate that individual. Following the interview, The Daily Caller independently verified the translations.*
Additionally, CNN and Univision both issued statements forcefully denying Figueroa’s accusations. CNN did not respond to a request for an English-language version of its statement.
“Univision characterized Melanio Figueroa’s claims as absolutely ridiculous, utterly false,” reads a statement from Univision News. “Univision hasn’t had any contact with Mr. Figueroa at any time.”
Just weeks ago, when faced with reports that the women involved in video-taped accusations against Menendez sought to recant their tales, Figueroa insisted that they had earlier told the truth about the senator. He denied paying the women to make up the claims.
“These are lies by [Miguel] Galván,” Figueroa told The Miami Herald in early March. “What he is saying is a lie.”
Galvan is a Dominican lawyer who reportedly filed an affidavit on February 26 in La Romana insisting that Figueroa had asked him to find women who would lie to advance a divorce proceeding.
That divorce proceeding was between Dr. Salomon Melgen and his Dominican wife, according to the Herald. Melgen is a friend of and major donor to Sen. Menendez, and the pair is facing down multiple investigations involving exchanging gifts for political favors.
Univision notes that Figueroa contradicted himself Thursday when he told investigators that he located the three women to lie about Menendez and later told Univison he had not.
*This article has been updated to reflect new reporting by ABC News