Richard Shotwell / AP
MSNBC has pulled Mark Halperin, a veteran political journalist, off the air after five women accused him of sexual harassment during his time as a top ABC News executive from the 1990s to the mid-2000s.
“We find the story and the allegations very troubling,” an MSNBC spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. “Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood.”
On Wednesday, CNN published accounts of five women who shared instances of Halperin's alleged harassment at ABC News, including kissing a woman and grabbing her breasts without consent, propositioning employees for sex, and pressing an erection against their bodies while clothed.
In a statement to CNN, Halperin apologized for what he termed as “inappropriate” behavior while pursuing “relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me.”
He denied accusations of grabbing a woman's breasts and pressing his erections against his accusers' bodies, CNN reported.
“I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain,” Halperin said. “For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I'm going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”
Halperin began working for ABC News in 1988 and was promoted to political director in 1997.
“Mark left ABC News over a decade ago, and no complaints were filed during his tenure,” ABC News said in a statement to CNN.
Halperin, a well-known political talking head in Washington, was an NBC News analyst for years and frequently appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
On Wednesday, Emily Miller, a journalist who said she was a former junior ABC employee, claimed in tweets that Halperin “attacked” her. Miller appeared to refer to a 2013 episode of Morning Joe where she and Halperin argued about gun control. “This will explain why so many of you asked why he attacked me on live TV,” Miller tweeted.
Halperin co-hosted a political analysis show on Bloomberg TV, and produced and was featured in Showtime's The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, which followed presidential candidates during their 2016 election campaigns.
He also co-authored the best-selling book, “Game Change” with journalist John Heilemann that was later adapted into an HBO movie featuring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. The two reportedly received a multi-million dollar advance for their second book, “Double Down: Game Change 2012.”
Penguin is set to publish the third installment of their book series in 2018, which chronicles the rise of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. The book has been purchased for an HBO mini-series.
Penguin did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
One woman who spoke to CNN said that Halperin “just kissed me and grabbed my boobs” when she was invited to his office at ABC News in the early 2000s.
Another woman, who is a former ABC News employee, alleged that Halperin “came up behind me and [while he was clothed] he pressed his body on mine, his penis, on my shoulder,” while she was seated in his office in 2004.
She alleged that Halperin continued to proposition her for sex despite her refusals.
Another ex-ABC News employee told CNN that she was on the road with Halperin when he propositioned her outside the ladies' room.
“I excused myself to go to the bathroom and he was there when I opened the door propositioning [me] to go into the other bathroom to do something,” she said. “I came out of the ladies' room and he was just standing there. Like almost blocking the door.”
A fifth woman told CNN that Halperin placed his erect penis against her body without consent while he was clothed.