A protest group called "Hot Mess" holds up signs of Jeffrey Epstein in front of a New York federal courthouse. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

ABC News anchor Amy Robach was caught on a hot mic claiming that her network suppressed a bombshell sex trafficking story about Jeffrey Epstein three years ago, according to a video published by right-wing activist group Project Veritas.

The big picture: Project Veritas has been criticized for producing deceptively edited videos that target mainstream media and liberal organizations. However, Robach did not deny the accuracy of the video and said in a statement that she was "caught in a private moment of frustration" after an interview she conducted with one of Epstein's accusers was not aired due to a lack of "sufficient corroborating evidence."

What they're saying:

  • Robach: "As a journalist, as the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was 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. 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 that 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."
  • ABC News: "At the time, not all of our reporting met our standards to air, but we have never stopped investigating the story. 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 6-part podcast that will air in the new year."

Between the lines: The Robach video comes in the wake of claims by journalist Ronan Farrow that NBC News suppressed his reporting on allegations of sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein, a powerful film mogul with extensive media connections. NBC News has denied Farrow's allegations.

Go deeper: NBC News president calls Farrow cover-up allegations a "smear" in staff memo

Editor's note: NBC is an investor in Axios and Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, is a member of the Axios board of directors.

Go deeper

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Meadows confirms Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents were false

Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed in court on Tuesday that President Trump's tweets authorizing the disclosure of documents related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails "were not self-executing declassification orders," after a federal judge demanded that Trump be asked about his intentions.

Why it matters: BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold cited the tweets in an emergency motion seeking to gain access to special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. This is the first time Trump himself has indicated, according to Meadows, that his tweets are not official directives.

2 hours ago - World

China embraces hostage diplomacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government is threatening to detain foreign citizens unless their home governments do what Beijing demands. In some cases, China has already made good on those threats.

The big picture: This marks a potential evolution of China's "wolf warrior diplomacy" to outright rogue state behavior, putting it in the company of countries like North Korea and Iran, which have also engaged in hostage diplomacy.