Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has backed off his ardent defense of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez amid the scandal crashing down on his colleague.
In an interview on ABC News’ This Week today, Reid admitted the existence of multiple investigations into Menendez and his connections to wealthy Democratic Party donor Dr. Salomon Melgen. Reid dropped his rhetoric attacking this reporter, and other outlets that have been investigating the Menendez scandal, since this reporter first published interviews in early November with two Dominican Republic prostitutes alleging they were under-paid to have sex with Menendez.
“I have confidence he did nothing wrong,” Reid said Sunday morning in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic Party and Bill Clinton strategist. “But that's what investigations are all about.”
In contrast, last week, when Breitbart News asked Reid about a similar question during his weekly press conference, the Senate Democratic Leader had a much different response: “The answer is: ‘Always consider the source.’ All anyone here has to look at is the source where this comes from.”
“I told you how I feel about the source of this stuff is,” Reid had added when questioned further. “Really very, very typical for the source.”
Since then, the sources have widened.
CBS News reports that the Senate Ethics Committee is investigating Menendez. “We are aware of the news reports regarding the FBI raid on Dr. Melgen's office," Senate Ethics Committee ranking GOP member Georgie Sen. Johnny Isakson told CBS. “The Ethics Committee will follow its established procedures in this matter." The Miami Herald has also confirmed the existence of two FBI investigations related to this matter.
Reid’s comments to Stephanopoulos could indicate thathe is hedging his bets with Menendez now, as compared to last week. Ironically, too, Stephanopoulos's line of questioning against Reid was nearly identical to that which Breitbart News took almost a full week before.
The full transcript of the interview with ABC News:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Your incoming chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez. The Ethics Committee is now reviewing his relationship with a major contributor-- out of Florida. It appears the F.B.I. is investigating that relationship-- as well. Are you comfortable with him serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as these -- investigations continue?
HARRY REID: He was a leader in the House. He's been a leader in the Senate. He's chairman of that committee. He'll do a wonderful job. And he's also an integral part of what we do with immigration reform. So, I have the utmost confidence in him. As-- as to the rest of the investigation, that'll have to be handled the way-- they're all handled around here, in depth and-- the Ethics Committee are in the paper today. They're taking a look at it. So, that's-- that—
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: There's some—
HARRY REID: --that-- that'll have to work out itself.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: --serious allegations here. Are you confident he did nothing wrong?
HARRY REID: Oh, I-- I have confidence he did nothing wrong. But that's what investigations are all about.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're fine with him serving while the investigation goes forward?
HARRY REID: Oh, he's-- he's-- he-- he will-- he has been and will be a great member of that committee.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, how is this Congress going to be remembered?
HARRY REID: Well, we'll have to wait and see. It's really early. And one-- one way it'll be remembered, we changed rules here in the Senate that are gonna make the Senate a better place. And I think there's a better feeling that we can get some things done under what we call regular order. That is stop the procedural gimmicks and to start legislating, voting on things we may not wanna vote on. But that's what we're here for.
The full transcript of Reid’s comments to Breitbart News at his weekly presser last week:
BREITBART NEWS: “Senator, do you think there needs to be–before he takes over as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, do you think there needs to be a full investigation into Senator Menendez’ alleged solicitation of prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and the FBI investigation into that?”
HARRY REID: “The answer is: ‘Always consider the source.’ All anyone here has to look at is the source where this comes from. The source has brought up a lot of—“
BREITBART NEWS: “There are FBI emails showing the FBI is—“
HARRY REID: “I told you how I feel about the source of this stuff is. Really very, very typical for the source.”
ABC News’ decision to ask a question about the matter is a reversal of course as well. The emails that surfaced in early January also show ABC News’ investigative producer Rhonda Schwartz was aware of the Menendez prostitution scandal allegations as early as May 2012--many months before this reporter broke the story for The Daily Caller--and that she decided not to run the story for whatever reason during an election year.
After the FBI emails surfaced--before the agency’s raid on Melgen’s eye clinic--ABC News' Martha Raddatz, while guest-hosting This Week for Stephanopoulos on Sunday, January 27, interviewed Menendez for six whole minutes but did not ask him a single question about the scandal.
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