GOP: Stephanopoulos should sit out 2016
© ABC News

George Stephanopoulos is coming under fire from Republicans after the ABC News anchor acknowledged donating tens of thousands of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.

Several Republicans are questioning whether he should be part of the network’s coverage of the 2016 presidential race, given the likelihood that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Trump, Biden tangle over Wall Street ties, fundraising The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage MORE will be the Democratic nominee.

Stephanopoulos told Politico that he would not moderate ABC's GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire early next year. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.), who is running for the White House, told The New York Times that Stephanopoulos should recuse himself from moderating any presidential debates.

“It’s impossible to divorce yourself from that, even if you try,” Paul said. “I just think it’s really, really hard because he’s been there, so close to them, that there would be a conflict of interest if he tried to be a moderator of any sort.”

An aide to Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEnd the American military presence in Somalia Ted Cruz won't wear mask to speak to reporters at Capitol Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test MORE (R-Utah), Communications Director Conn Carroll, suggested Thursday that Stephanopoulos should remove himself from all coverage of the White House race:



Lee has appeared on ABC programs in the past, including the Sunday morning political news show "This Week," which Stephanopoulos hosts.

The news anchor, who served in Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage Trump expected to bring Hunter Biden's former business partner to debate Davis: On eve of tonight's debate — we've seen this moment in history before MORE’s White House, acknowledged Thursday that he had donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation between 2012 and 2014 for global AIDS prevention and deforestation work.

While the donations appeared on the Clinton Foundation's website, Stephanopoulos did not disclose them in recent broadcasts that featured stories on the foundation, which has come under scrutiny for accepting foreign donations.

“I thought that my contributions were a matter of public record,” he said in a statement, first reported by Politico and The Washington Free Beacon.

“However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation,” he added.

Stephanopoulos said he believed he could moderate debates fairly, but would bow out of ABC's planned debate next year.

"I think I've shown that I can moderate debates fairly. That said, I know there have been questions made about moderating debates this year. I want to be sure I don't deprive moderators or viewers of a good debate," he said. 
 
Stephanopoulos also told the newspaper that he had no plans to recuse himself from 2016 coverage, as demanded by Lee's office.

Last month, Stephanopoulos interviewed Peter Schweizer, author of the recently published book Clinton Cash, which scrutinized donations to the foundation. He also asked Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden defends his health plan from Trump attacks Progressives blast Biden plan to form panel on Supreme Court reform Sanders: Progressives will work to 'rally the American people' if Biden wins MORE (I-Vt.) about the topic.

“Really quite stunned by this,” Schweizer, who appeared on "This Week" on April 26, said in an email to Bloomberg News, describing the situation as "a massive breach of ethical standards."

"He fairly noted my four months working as a speech writer for George W. Bush. But he didn't disclose this?" Schweizer said.

This story was last updated at 3:49 p.m.