Trump told Fox News to run Seth Rich conspiracy story, lawsuit alleges

Trump told Fox News to run Seth Rich conspiracy story, lawsuit alleges

The Fox News story at the center of the lawsuit by Wheeler claims that he received a text message letting him know that President Trump allegedly read the article in question prior to it being published. According to Wheeler, the network defamed him by knowingly fabricating quotes and attributing them to him in its story, which was titled "Seth Rich, slain DNC staffer, had contact with WikiLeaks, say multiple sources".

This theory, in turn, would help dispel speculation that the Trump campaign was aided by the Russian government and possibly colluded with the latter - a matter now under investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller.

Wheeler also charged former White House spokesman Sean Spicer and top Trump strategist Steve Bannon were "in regular contact" with Butowsky "regarding his efforts relating to Seth Rich".

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in NY federal court against Fox News, reporter Malia Zimmerman and commentator Ed Butowsky.

Before the story was published, Butowski sent Wheeler, as well as the hosts and producers of "Fox and Friends", a statement, claiming he had been working behind the scenes to put the story together, and brought in Wheeler to be used as a credible source because he himself did not have any. Wheeler, a former Washington, D.C. detective and a Fox News contributor since 2005, said some of his comments were manipulated by officials in the Trump administration.

"It's completely untrue that he or the White House were involved in the story".

But the most explosive aspect of Wheeler's lawsuit may be that it accuses Trump of personally influencing the content of the article.

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Despite Fox News' retraction, Wheeler says that the network never cleared his name "and never admitted that Zimmerman had misquoted him".

Washington's Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the July 2016 fatal shooting of 27-year-old Rich, saying there is evidence to suggest the murder took place during a botched robbery.

"While we can't speak to the evidence that you now have, we are hopeful that this brings an end to what has been the most emotionally hard time in our lives and an end to conspiracy theories surrounding our beloved Seth", the family said. Instead, he said, "it was their aim to have Mr. Wheeler confirm that: (i) Seth Rich was responsible for the leak of DNC emails to WikiLeaks; and (ii) Seth Rich was murdered by a Democrat operative because he leaked the emails to WikiLeaks".

Fox News retracted the story on May 23, 2017, but without citing specific reasons or editorial failures.

The lawsuit claims that the quotes were falsely attributed to Wheeler "because this is the way the president wanted the article". "I only got that [information] from the reporter at Fox News", he said at the time. After Butowsky said he heard something from someone, Cuomo pressed him on what it was. But Spicer said Butowsky was just informing him of the story. (A meeting Spicer confirms but claims he didn't know the subject of.) Wheeler goes along with the story and even allows himself to be coached by Butowsky on how to spin it-namely, that this whole mess supposedly proves Russian Federation didn't hack our emails.

As this is all happening, Wheeler and Butowsky meet with Sean Spicer at the White House to go over Butowsky's claims.

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