Federal authorities have interviewed current and former Fox News employees in a broadening inquiry into the scope of sexual harassment settlements and possible intimidation tactics used at the network, people familiar with the probe confirmed to the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors at the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan and criminal investigators from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service -- the federal law enforcement agency that works with prosecutors on white-collar investigations-- spoke to women who accused now ousted Fox News chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.
The women interviewed included current on-air talent Julie Roginsky and Laurie Luhn, the former director of corporate and special events.
Sources also confirmed that former Fox News communications chief Brian Lewis, once a top aide to Ailes, was subpoenaed and met with investigators earlier this spring.
Specifically, U.S. prosecutors honed in on the structure of settlement payments intended to silence harassment accusations in addition to the executives that helped engineer them. In their interviews, authorities, however, focused on alleged intimidation tactics authorized by Ailes, which include the hiring of a private investigator to dig up dirt on women who had complained.
Despite the government's involvement into the Fox News probe, it's doesn't necessarily mean that a criminal prosecution will occur. That's because prosecutors would have to prove a securities-law violation related to the company's financial disclosures, which means that prosecutors would have the burden to prove that 21st Century Fox purposefully mislead investors by omitting information that a reasonable person would have otherwise considered important.
21st Century Fox, which is Fox News' parent company, said it is fully cooperating with the probe.
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