Trump Worked With Fox News on DNC Staffer Story, Says Suit
Detective’s suit says Trump backed Fox story with bogus quotes; DNC staffer’s 2016 murder on Washington street still unsolved
Washington: President Donald Trump collaborated with Fox News to concoct a story claiming a Democratic National Committee staffer was killed in retaliation for leaking Hillary Clinton’s emails to Wikileaks, according to a lawsuit by a private investigator for the slain man’s family. Trump, who allegedly reviewed the Fox story before it was published on May 16, intended for the story to divert attention from the widening probe into ties between his campaign and Russia, according to the suit filed on Tuesday by Rod Wheeler, the investigator, a former Washington police detective and occasional Fox News contributor. The alleged motive behind the article, overseen by Fox investigative journalist Malia Zimmerman, was “to shift the blame from Russia and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome of the Presidential election,” Wheeler said in the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. Neither the White House nor Fox News immediately responded to requests for comment on Wheeler’s allegations.
Seth Rich was shot to death on July 10, 2016, as he walked home from a Washington bar. Police believe Rich was the victim of a botched robbery attempt, but the crime remains unsolved. After Clinton claimed that Russian hackers had been the source of the DNC leak, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange deflected the claim in part by pointing out that Rich, a low level staffer, had been murdered weeks earlier, hinting at a DNC conspiracy.
Wheeler’s suit names Zimmerman and Fox News contributor Ed Butowsky, a friend to former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Butowsky allegedly approached Wheeler in February and offered to finance an investigation into Rich’s murder for Zimmerman’s story, according to the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, it was all just a setup. “Butowsky and Zimmerman were not simply Good Samaritans attempting to solve a murder,” Wheeler said in the suit. They “hoped that, if they could confirm that Seth Rich leaked the DNC emails to WikiLeaks, that would debunk reports the Russians were responsible for the DNC hacks.”
The allegedly faked quotes used in the story, attributed to Wheeler, include, “My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wikileaks.” Wheeler was also falsely quoted saying the Democratic National Committee or Clinton’s team were blocking the murder investigation.