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

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

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.

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