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Daily Caller says prostitute interviews are not in doubt

The Daily Caller Web site said Tuesday that a Dominican woman who says she was paid to fabricate claims that she had sex with Sen. Robert Menendez was not one of the two prostitutes the outlet interviewed for a story about the New Jersey Democrat.

According to affidavits filed in a Dominican court, an escort who said in a video that Menendez paid her for sex has told authorities that she was instead paid to make her statement and has never met or seen the senator.

“That woman was not one of the two prostitutes TheDC interviewed for a Nov. 1 report,” the Daily Caller reported.

The videotaped claims of two women, made with their faces obscured, were posted on the conservative Web site last fall. The site reported at the time that “the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. . . . They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”

On Tuesday, the Daily Caller said that the woman who submitted the affidavit in a Dominican court cannot be one of the women they interviewed, in part because the names don’t match. The affidavit was given by a woman who used the name Nexis de los Santos Santana, and the Web site said neither woman it interviewed used that name. The Web site also said that the escort’s reported age of 23 does not match because both women interviewed by the Daily Caller said they were 24.

Santana and an attorney who says he paid her are seeking immunity in the Dominican Republic from charges of slander. They said another lawyer misled them into helping build a smear campaign against Menendez.

ABC News reported Tuesday that Santana and two other women had been interviewed back to back last fall by ABC and the Daily Caller. Anonymous operatives arranged the appearances, the network said in an article posted on its Web site.

ABC News said it did not broadcast the interviews or initially report on their claims “because of doubts about the women’s veracity and identity.”

In her interview with ABC News, Santana — who at the time gave her name as Michelle Rodriguez — said she had come forward with the allegations against Menendez because he had paid her only $100, not $500 as she had expected, according to the network’s report. Santana said in her affidavit that she had been told to fabricate that claim.

FBI agents conducting interviews in the Dominican Republic have found no evidence to back up allegations, initially made by an anonymous tipster, that Menendez had patronized prostitutes, according to two people briefed on their work.

Menendez has denied the prostitution claims, saying they were made by enemies trying to undermine him as he sought reelection last fall and became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this year.

He said Monday that he didn’t know the details in the affidavits. “But as I’ve said all along, there are obviously some people, some interests using right-wing blogs that have been perpetuating smears about me, and I hope that all the truth comes out, because they are nothing but that — smears,” he said.

Discuss this topic and other political issues in the politics discussion forums.

Carol Leonnig covers federal agencies with a focus on government accountability.


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