TV host’s bombshell Epstein claim
A TV anchor has been caught out admitting her own network killed a story on billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in 2015 amid threats from Buckingham Palace.
In a "hot mic" video released by conservative organisation Project Veritas on Tuesday, ABC News anchor Amy Robach expressed frustration that "I've had this story for three years, I've had this interview with Virginia Roberts", referring to an unaired interview with one of Epstein's alleged victims.
Ms Roberts, who now goes by her married named Giuffre, has alleged she was Epstein's sex slave from the age of 16 and that he forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew at his private island. In the interview, Ms Roberts also made allegations about former President Bill Clinton.
"We would not put it on the air," Robach said in the video.
"First of all, I was told, 'Who's Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.' Then the palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways. We were so afraid we wouldn't be able to interview Kate and Will, that also quashed the story … She told me everything, she had pictures, she had everything. She was in hiding for 12 years, we convinced her to come out, we convinced her to talk to us. It was unbelievable what we had. (Bill) Clinton - we had everything."
She continued, "I tried for three years to get it on to no avail and now it's all coming out and it's like these new revelations and I freaking had all of it. I'm so pissed right now, like every day I get more and more pissed because I'm just like, 'Oh my God … What we had was unreal.' Other women backing it up. Brad Edwards, (Ms Roberts' lawyer), the attorney, three years ago saying, 'There will come a day, when we will realise Jeffrey Epstein was the most prolific paedophile this country had ever known.' I had it all three years ago."
Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton have both denied Ms Roberts' allegations.
In repeated statements, the Duke of York has said the claims - which were struck from the record by a judge in UK legal proceedings in 2015 as being "immaterial and impertinent" - are "false and without foundation".
"Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue," a statement from Buckingham Palace said.
The disgraced financier and convicted sex offender was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in August while awaiting trial on new sex trafficking charges involving underage girls, sparking widespread outrage and disbelief.
Following Epstein's death, Prince Andrew issued a statement saying that he met the financier in 1999 and had "stayed in a number of his residences" but that "during the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year".
"At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction," the statement said.
"I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010, and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we know now. I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour."
New York City Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson ruled Epstein's cause of death to be a suicide, but many - including his lawyers - have questioned that finding. Last week, prominent forensic pathologist Dr Michael Baden, hired by Epstein's brother to observe the autopsy, said broken bones in the 66-year-old's neck were more consistent with murder than suicide.
In the video, Robach said of Epstein's death, "So do I think he was killed? A hundred per cent, yes I do. Because do you want it? He made his whole living blackmailing people. Yep. There were a lot of men in those planes, a lot of men who visited that island, lot of powerful men who came into that apartment … I knew immediately (when he was found dead). And they made it seem as though he made that 'suicide attempt' two weeks earlier. But his lawyers claim that he was roughed up by his cellmate around the neck, that was all like to plant the seed. That's why I really believe it."
She also weighed in on Epstein's alleged "madam" Ghislaine Maxwell. "I had all sorts of stuff on her too," she said. "I love it - it's so funny to hear everyone say her name. Excellent. Oh my God. Like I had all that. And everyone's like, 'Who's that? Who cares?' I kept getting that. Who cares? She knows everything. She knows. She should be careful. She went out and recruited all of these girls."
NPR first revealed ABC had killed an interview with Ms Roberts earlier this year. "I viewed the ABC interview as a potential game changer," she told the broadcaster.
"Appearing on ABC with its wide viewership would have been the first time for me to speak out against the government for basically looking the other way and to describe the anger and betrayal victims felt."
NPR host David Folkenflik said Ms Roberts was "never told why". "Shortly before the interview was due to air, Harvard emeritus law professor Alan Dershowitz called the network," Folkenflik said. "He was also one of Epstein's lead defence attorneys."
ABC News has explained its decision not to air the interview. "At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story," a statement said.
"Ever since we've had a team on this investigation and substantial resources dedicated to it. That work has led to a two-hour documentary and six-part podcast that will air in the new year."
Robach also issued her own, lengthier statement. "As a journalist, as the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was caught in a private moment of frustration," she said.
"I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn't air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC's editorial standards about her allegations."
She continued, "My comments about Prince Andrew and her allegation that she had seen Bill Clinton on Epstein's private island were in reference to what Virginia Roberts said in that interview in 2015. I was referencing her allegations - not what ABC News had verified through our reporting. The interview itself, while I was disappointed it didn't air, didn't meet our standards. In the years since no one ever told me or the team to stop reporting on Jeffrey Epstein, and we have continued to aggressively pursue this important story."