Report: Dominican lawyer cites Daily Caller for role in Menendez hooker story

A Dominican district attorney said on Friday that a person who claimed to work for The Daily Caller paid a lawyer in the Caribbean country to find women to lie about having sex with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), according to a news report.

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According to The Washington Post, Dominican district attorney Jose Antonio Polanco said that a man using the name “Carlos,” paid a local lawyer $2,000 to find and pay women to fabricate claims of sleeping with the New Jersey lawmaker. The lawyer said "Carlos" claimed to be from The Daily Caller. 

A spokesman for The Daily Caller, in response to the Post article, vehemently denied any such arrangement.

“At no point did any money change hands between The Daily Caller and any sources or individuals connected with this investigation, nor did anyone named Carlos travel to the Dominican Republic on behalf of The Daily Caller,” the spokesman said in a statement to the Post.

The local lawyer, Melanio Figueroa, has been interviewed by Dominican investigators as they continue to probe the prostitution allegations, which Menendez says are false.

The Daily Caller said that Figueroa has altered his story about whether the women were telling the truth in taped interviews with a reporter from the website, which first published the story last year. Several other news agencies passed it up, unable to verify the claims.

ABC News was one of those outlets, and had remotely conducted similar video interviews with the same women. The network ultimately decided not to publish the interviews.

On Friday, however, ABC News posted a picture of a man who identified himself as “Carlos” and showed his face momentarily during the news agency’s interview with the women as he tried to fix a technical problem with the Internet connection.

ABC News also reported on Friday that “Carlos” was working in cahoots with Republican operatives based in the United States.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, the local lawyer Figueroa said that one of the women claiming to be a prostitute was pressured to say that she lied about having sex with Menendez. 

Figueroa also told the Times that he was telling the truth and had not invented the allegations in an attempt to tarnish the senator’s reputation.

The editor of The Daily Caller, Tucker Carlson, told The Washington Post through his spokesman that the website “never paid anyone, was never asked to pay anyone and of course never would pay anyone for this story."

“It seems clear to me Figueroa is under pressure to change his story. What I know for certain is this claim is a lie," Carlson said. 

Menendez, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has maintained his innocence from the beginning, saying that the claims appear to be politically motivated. A spokeswoman for Menendez declined to comment on Friday's news reports. 

Other allegations have arisen around Menendez beyond the prostitution charges, however, creating a headache and a publicity nightmare for the senator and Democratic leaders in the upper chamber.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that a federal grand jury in Miami is investigating whether Menendez improperly pressured officials to honor its contract with a political donor of the senator’s.