In another devastating blow to the credibility of The Daily Caller, the Associated Press is reporting that Dominican police have determined that three women who said they had sex with Sen. Robert Menendez for money were actually paid to make the false accusations.
In November, the Caller reported that two Dominican prostitutes had told the outlet in interviews that Menendez had paid them for sex and that the senator's office had denied the charges. The Caller has since published dozens of pieces furthering the accusations, even as the story started to crumble under scrutiny.
From the AP:
Police in the Dominican Republic say they have determined that three women who said they had sex with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez for money were in fact paid to make false claims by an attorney in the Caribbean country.
Police spokesman Maximo Baez says officers traced the payments to attorney Melanio Figueroa. Baez says two women received about $425 each and the other was paid about $300 to falsely state on camera that they had sex with Menendez (D-N.J.).
Baez said at a news conference today that authorities were seeking to interrogate Figueroa about the payments. Figueroa did not respond to messages left at his office. The women's videotaped statements were published on a conservative U.S. website. Menendez denied the allegations.
On March 4, the Washington Post reported that a woman who had alleged that she had sex with Menendez had recanted her story and claimed in an affidavit that she was paid to lie about the senator. The Caller responded by claiming that the woman in the Post story was not one of the women they had spoken to for their own story.
Since then, several outlets including ABC News, the Star Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), and The New York Post, have stated that they had been approached with the story by Republican operatives who provided them access to three women offering the allegations in the months leading up to Menendez's 2012 re-election, but had decided not to run it because they did not find the women's stories credible.
The FBI has also reportedly found no evidence of connections between Menendez and Dominican prostitution.
After the Post's report that one of the women had recanted, Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson defended his website's reporting as “straightforward, traditional journalism.”
UPDATE: Asked about the AP story, the Caller initially told Washington Post's Erik Wemple, “We've seen the story and are looking into the new developments. We'll have a piece up soon.”
The Caller has since published a story that repeats the AP's report on the women recanting. The Caller report concludes:
TheDC has not independently verified the identities of the women involved in the Dominican National Police investigation, but will continue to investigate the case.
A statement released by the police made no mention of TheDC.