Unproven right-wing conspiracy theories have floated for months suggesting that Rich leaked the DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election and that his death could have been the result of his betrayal.
The suit, filed at the U.S. federal court house in Manhattan on Tuesday, is brought by Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and retired police detective, against the television network, one of its journalists and another of its contributors.
The lawsuit claims that Butowsky is "an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and opponent of Hillary Clinton, and a friend to former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon". Butowsky, told him the quotes appeared in the story because "that is the way the president wanted them in the article", Wheeler says. Wheeler accuses Fox News regular and pro-Trump money manager Ed Butowsky of coordinating between the channel and the White House in an effort to frame Rich for the leaks and imply Democrats had a hand in his death.
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The AP reports that White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the issue today at a White House briefing. Wheeler claims that every quotation included in his lawsuit "is from an email, text message, published news article and/or recorded or videotaped conversation". NPR said Fox News refused to allow Zimmerman to comment.
A defamation lawsuit has been filed against Fox News for allegedly pushing a false story in an effort to distract attention from the Russian Federation investigation.
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The heat hasn't died down over Fox News' now-retracted report about Seth Rich, an employee of the Democratic National Committee who was killed in Washington, D.C. back in July. "But don't feel the pressure", Butowsky wrote to Wheeler in a text, the lawsuit said. "Not the part about, I mean, the connection to WikiLeaks, but the rest of the quotes in the story did [come from you]", Zimmerman can be heard saying, before Butowski adds, "one day you're going to win an award for having said those things you didn't say". Butowsky said that Wheeler complained to him that he was misquoted, but that he has emails showing him approving the quotes. Fox News later retracted the article, saying it didn't meet its "standards". He investigated the case but claims that the network inaccurately reported his findings as implicating Rich because "that is the way the President wanted the article". It is Wheeler who has filed the lawsuit, claiming defamation and that the quotes attributed to him in the story were outright manufactured. Butowsky said this was "tongue-in-cheek".
In response to the explosive claim, Spicer told NPR that he is unaware of any such contact with the president.
"Incredibly, according to Butowsky, the President reviewed an article written by a Fox News journalist prior to its publication and sought to get the article published 'immediately, '" the complaint states.
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Butowsky did not seem pleased when Cuomo suggested the story didn't seem to make sense in light of Butowsky's meeting with Spicer, despite claims that he didn't know him well. "As Ed himself has noted, he has never met the President, and the White House has nothing to do with the story".