Lawsuit: Trump OK'd Fox's Unfounded Murder Story

The lawsuit claims Donald Trump wanted the story published to divert attention from the widening investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia

A lawsuit filed Tuesday reportedly claims that the White House and a wealthy Trump supporter encouraged Fox News to peddle a story about the 2016 death of Democratic National Committee aide Seth Rich in order to deflect attention from news about Trump's ties to Russian Federation. In May, Fox News ran a story advancing the theory which quoted a Fox News contributor and former homicide detective Rod Wheeler.

"According to the complaint, at the same time that 21st Century Fox's General Counsel, Gerson Zweifach, was meeting with the United Kingdom regulators in an attempt to convince them that Fox had in place procedures to ensure compliance with broadcasting standards to purchase Sky, Fox News was working with the Trump administration to disseminate fake news in order to distract the public from Russia's alleged attempts to influence our Country's presidential election", said Douglas Wigdor, a partner at Wigdor, LLP, who is representing Wheeler, in an emailed statement.

However, public statements from Wheeler contradict numerous claims in the lawsuit.

The suit also claims that Ed Butowsi, a wealthy Trump supporter and also a Fox commentator, coordinated the effort by the President and Fox to publish the story. However, Zimmerman's article was published, which said that Wheeler believes there was evidence that connects Rich to Wikileaks before he was murdered, prompting a quick rebuke from Rich's family.

The lawsuit further claims that Zimmerman knew the quotes in her story were fake, but was told by her Fox News bosses to leave them in.

The second read: "My investigation shows someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the murder investigation from going forward". Butowsky said this was "tongue-in-cheek".

It's those ties to Fox, as well as to the Trump White House, that helped thrust Butowsky to the center of a freaky and explosive story involving a slain Democratic National Committee staffer and the Trump administration. The news channel removed the articles a week after publication, claiming the initial story "was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting".

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However, it should be noted that Wheeler's public statements about the investigation roughly fall in line with these quotes.

Wheeler would later retract these comments claiming there was a "miscommunication".

What do you think of Wheeler's lawsuit?

"FOX 5 DC: "...that could link Seth Rich to WikiLeaks?"

In the original report, Wheeler was quoted as saying he "absolutely" found evidence that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks in the weeks before the website published stolen DNC emails that USA intelligence agencies believe were stolen by Russian hackers.

WHEELER: "Absolutely. Yeah. That's confirmed". "Fox's marginalization of Mr. Wheeler is simply part of its systemic pattern and practice of discriminating against people of color", the suit says.

"There was a federal investigator that was involved on the inside of the case. He came across very credible". Wheeler's lawsuit, however, states that Bukowski, the third party, sent Wheeler five text messages and one voice mail in the three day period ending on the Hannity interview.

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