On March 4, a widely-cited Washington Post article by Carol D. Leonnig and Ernesto Londoño seemed to debunk The Daily Caller’s reporting linking Sen. Bob Menendez to underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic:
An escort who appeared on a video claiming that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) paid her for sex has told Dominican authorities that she was instead paid to make up the claims and has never met or seen the senator, according to court documents and two people briefed on her claim.
The woman said a local lawyer had approached her and a fellow escort and asked them to help frame Menendez and a top donor, Salomon Melgen, according to affidavits obtained by The Washington Post.
The escort, Nexis de los Santos Santana, 23, said in an affidavit she was hired by lawyer Miguel Galvan to do a taped interview with journalists in mid-October. Galvan explained to her that a false account was needed for a divorce case. De los Santos said she was surreptitiously taped implicating Menendez, Melgen and prominent Dominican lawyer Vinicio Castillo Selmán, Melgen’s cousin, in hiring prostitutes.
Inside the Beltway, the recantation by de los Santos Santana was widely hailed as proof that The Daily Caller’s reporting on Sen. Menendez was bogus even though the Post article itself was flawed and was quietly changed after publication.
Now the Daily Caller has posted a new article raising further questions about the credibility, veracity, and even existence of de los Santos Santana:
In the affidavit, Nexis de los Santos Santana’s voter ID number — what Dominicans call a cedula — was presented as an 11-digit number. Dominican cedulas have 12 digits.
Using the Dominican government’s online voter registration database to insert the digits 0 through 9 in each of the possible places where a digit may have been missing, TheDC was unable to identify any voters who reside in the Vista Catalina neighborhood of the city of La Romana — the area where the affidavit said de los Santana resides.
In addition, the street on which she claimed to reside does not exist in any of more than a dozen maps TheDC has examined. Multiple sources on the ground in the Dominican Republic have been unable to locate that street, where the affidavit said de los Santos resides in a house with no number.
Here’s the affidavit in question.
This is where things get confusing.
Last fall, ABC News’ Brian Ross interviewed three Dominican Republic escorts about the Menendez story. Ross didn’t air the interviews because he didn’t think the women were credible.
At the time of the interview with ABC News, however, this woman said her name was Michelle Rodriguez.
The Daily Caller says neither of the two women it featured in its Nov. 1 interview was named de los Santos Santana.
TheDC appears to say here that one of the two women featured in its video was named “Michelle.”
Is TheDC’s “Michelle” the same as ABC News’ “Michelle Rodriguez” aka “Nexis de los Santos Santana”?
Last week, Jonathan Strong, a reporter for Roll Call, asked Brian Ross for clarification:
Real helpful, Brian.