Leaked footage shows ABC News host Amy Robach claiming that a damning interview with one of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims was quashed by the network three years ago — in part because of pressure from Buckingham Palace.
The edited videos were published on Twitter by James O'Keefe of the right-wing activist group Project Veritas. They were filmed in late August, a few weeks after Epstein was found dead in a New York jail cell.
"I've had the story for three years. I had this interview with Virginia [Giuffre]. We would not put it on the air," Robach says in the footage. "I tried for three years to get it on to no avail. And now it's all coming out."
Giuffre alleged in a 2015 federal lawsuit that Epstein kept her as a teenage sex slave and forced her to have sex with men including Prince Andrew and lawyer Alan Dershowitz. The men have strongly denied the allegations.
ABC News reported on Giuffre's lawsuit and allegations against Epstein and the Duke of York at the time, but a network spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the sit-down interview Robach recorded with her did not air because it did not meet editorial standards.
"At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story," said ABC News in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
In the leaked video, where Robach is mic'd up in a TV studio, the ABC News host says she is "so pissed" that the news she'd had on Epstein years earlier hadn't been shown.
Robach says she was told by the network, "Who is Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is."
ABC News published several stories online in 2015 mentioning Epstein and the allegations of him running a sex ring of underage women, but they usually focused on Prince Andrew being mentioned in the lawsuits filed against Epstein.
Robach says in the footage that pressure from Buckingham Palace also stopped the interview being aired.
"Then the palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways," Robach says in the video. "We were so afraid we wouldn't be able to interview Kate and Will that we, that also, quashed the story."
A network executive denied to BuzzFeed News that Buckingham Palace had anything to do with stopping the publication of the Giuffre interview.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told BuzzFeed News "that it is a matter for ABC."
ABC News does not seem to have ever interviewed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The duchess recorded her first TV interview last month in Pakistan after becoming a royal eight years ago, her only other appearance was in a documentary for the Queen's 90th birthday that aired in 2016, which was not screened on ABC.
The video was leaked by an ABC employee who still works at the network, according to Eric Spracklen, the communications manager for Project Veritas. "Patriots inside mainstream media organizations have trusted Project Veritas to expose the corruption they are witnessing firsthand," he told BuzzFeed News.
Project Veritas has a history of releasing heavily edited partisan videos, which frustrated a judge when the government tried to use them in federal lawsuits without naming them. The group is known for recording and editing undercover videos that supposedly reveal liberal bias in media organizations or the workings of left-wing organizations. The organization tried, and failed, to get the Washington Post to publish a fabricated allegation against Republican candidate Roy Moore in 2017, apparently with the goal of discrediting Moore's other accusers.
In the video published Tuesday, Robach says Guiffre had been in hiding for 12 years, but that ABC News had convinced her to come forward and they also had other women backing up her claims about Epstein.
"She [Guiffre] told me everything," Robach says in the video. "She had pictures. She had everything."
"Brad Edwards, the attorney [representing several Epstein victims], three years ago, saying, 'There will come a day when we realize Jeffrey Epstein was the most prolific pedophile this country has ever known,'" Robach says. "I had it all three years ago."
Robach goes on to say that former president Bill Clinton was also involved in her story (Epstein and Clinton were formerly friends although Clinton has denied knowing about Epstein's sexual assault of young women and denied any involvement).
"It was unbelievable what we had," Robach says. "Clinton. We had everything."
NPR revealed on Aug. 22 that Robach recorded a sit-down interview with Giuffre in 2015, flying her out to New York and putting her up at a fancy hotel, but that it was not aired.
NPR reported that Harvard law professor emeritus Dershowitz, one of the men accused in the Giuffre's lawsuit, called ABC and spoke with two producers and a lawyer in order to stop the interview airing.
"I viewed the ABC interview as a potential game-changer," Giuffre told NPR in August. "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."
She later recorded a sit-down interview with NBC in September 2019.
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Robach said the leaked video showed her "caught in a private moment of frustration."
"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," said Robach.
She noted that her comments regarding Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton were in reference to the recorded 2015 interview with Giuffre and "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," said Robach. "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."
ABC News said a podcast series and two-hour documentary on Epstein will be airing in the new year.