By Peter Barry Chowka

On Tuesday morning, August 1, 2017, the dormant cold case of the violent murder of Seth Rich suddenly came back to life, or to renewed public attention at least, with the filing of a civil complaint, a.k.a. a lawsuit, in a federal court in New York. The plaintiff (accuser) is Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former Washington, D.C. homicide detective, and the defendants are the Fox News Channel, 21st Century Fox, Malia Zimmerman, a Fox News investigative reporter, and Ed Butowsky.

NPR broke the story in a long article at its Web site at 7:23 PM EDT and in a six-minute report on its Morning Edition program that aired nationally around the same time.

The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump [Butowsky] worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The explosive claim is part of a lawsuit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler, a longtime paid commentator for the news network. The suit was obtained exclusively by NPR.

Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story.

This story as it evolved and grew during the day on August 1 is extremely complicated and convoluted. It quickly became a lead story on CNN where it was given an incendiary spin (“Fox News concocted Seth Rich story with oversight from White House”) and was widely and similarly reported in other mainstream media. It looked like it might become a story with legs, another arrow in the quiver of the “Resist Trump” movement. This heightened attention was to be expected as Wheeler’s lawsuit appeared to add weight to skepticism that Seth Rich’s unsolved murder near his apartment in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016 was just a robbery gone bad and not part of a larger conspiracy involving his employer, the Democratic National Committee, at a critical time in the 2016 election campaign.

 Rod Wheeler

On the Hagmann Report, Tuesday August 1, 2017, I appeared as a last-minute guest from 8:45 PM until approximately 9:10 PM ET to discuss these latest developments in the case. The recording of the program is here, and I appear at the 1 hour 45 minute and 50 second point. I said then that I would prepare an article with links to primary sources of information for people interested in the case and the new developments. This is the article and the links will come near the end of it.

At this point, as a summary and basic introduction to the subject of the Seth Rich case, I will quote from an article that I wrote for American Thinker on May 30, 2017. That article was primarily about Fox News but it included reporting and analysis of the Seth Rich case up to that point.

What should be kept in mind now on August 1, 2017 is that these latest developments in the story that broke today should not be seen in a vacuum or in isolation, rather as pieces of a larger puzzle involving efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the Fox News channel and ultimately the viability of the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

From May 30, 2017:

The issue here is of the unsolved murder last summer of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich. Rich, 27, was fatally shot in the back by unknown assailants as he was walking home to his apartment in Washington, D.C. in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016. According to an article in the New York Daily News on July 11, 2016, citing information from Seth Rich’s father, D.C. Metropolitan Police were reported to be investigating Rich’s death as a robbery. But technically a robbery did not occur since nothing of value was taken from Rich after he was shot. Curiously, the same article also states “There is no immediate indication that robbery was a motive in the attack, police said, but it has not been ruled out as a possibility.”

An IT professional with a passion for politics, Seth Conrad Rich was the Voter Expansion Data Director at the DNC. According to Fox News’s January 10, 2017 story, “Rich would have had access to sensitive DNC information. His main duty at the DNC was to build an online system to get out the vote.” Reports began to emerge after the shooting of Rich that he might have been the source of 20,000 embarrassing internal DNC documents, showing collusion between the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, that wound up being published by Wikileaks on the eve of the Democrat National Convention in late July. Recently, these initially unconfirmed reports about some kind of relationship between Seth Rich and Wikileaks have gained new currency and momentum.

On May 15, 2017, Fox News channel 5 in D.C. reported that Rod Wheeler, a former D.C. police homicide detective and a Fox News contributor who was independently investigating Rich’s death on behalf of the young man’s family, went on the record with allegations confirming many of the suspicions about the official investigation of Seth Rich’s murder, including a new claim that the D.C. police were instructed to “stand down on this case.” On May 16, Fox News in New York also reported the story based on Wheeler’s account. An identical version of the May 16 Fox News story republished the same day by the New York Post, which is owned by the same company that owns Fox News, is archived here, but on May 23, in a highly unusual move, Fox News retracted its story one week after publication and removed it from the Fox News Website.

The Fox News retraction, the “backtracking” on elements of the story by Wheeler himself, and the emotionally charged objections by the Rich family to any more outside investigations and reporting about Seth Rich’s death, provided fuel to the fire stoked by the mainstream media, which had already dismissed any and all questions that were being raised about Rich’s murder and its possible links to the purloined DNC documents and Wikileaks as illegitimate, irresponsible, and “conspiracy theories.”

The mainstream media initially downplayed Rich’s death and only began reporting about it again when new questions began to be asked – while dismissing the questioners in hundreds if not thousands of critical stories. A typical example of the latter appeared May 22 in Foreign Policy, the influential organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, with author Max Boot decrying Fox News in particular for being “morally bankrupt” and guilty of “conspiracy mongering” for its reporting in the Rich murder case. Meanwhile, the reporting that has reopened and advanced the story has been done primarily by alternative conservative media, including most recently by Alicia Powe writing at World Net Daily (WND).

 Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity interviewed Rod Wheeler live on his Fox News channel program on May 16, 2017, giving prominence to the new information that Wheeler was bringing forward. One week later on May 23, after Fox News had retracted its story, Hannity, speaking on his nationally syndicated radio show, insisted “I am not or Fox I retracted nothing.” Later that evening on his Fox News program, after having promised that he would present new information relating to the case, Hannity announced instead that he was backing off the story “for now” in deference to the wishes of the Rich family. These developments set the stage for a doubling down of the onslaught targeting Hannity by the mainstream media and left-wing advocacy groups like Media Matters for America, with Hannity’s enemies moving in for the “kill shot,” as he termed it, by employing the tactic of the sponsor boycott. (Ultimately, the advertiser boycott against Hannity did not succeed.)

Meanwhile, investigations into the death of Rich are proceeding, mainly on the part of independent journalists. An exception were two reports broadcast by One America News Network (OAN) on May 19, “Who Killed Seth Rich? Investigating the DNC Staffer’s Suspicious Murder.” Video of the the first of the two OAN reports can be viewed here (Part 1).

At the conclusion of Part 2, OAN reporter Pearson Sharp said:

For now there are no clear answers as to who killed Seth Rich – or why. Police have called it a robbery, but have no proof. There is growing evidence that it was something much more than a mugging gone wrong… It’s not just one coincidence, or two. It’s dozens. And they trace their way all the way to the highest brains of the DNC. Yes, it could be a coincidence that the officers were wearing body cameras but the footage apparently can’t be found. It could be a coincidence that the attending physician has direct ties to [one of] Hillary’s right hand [men]… And it could be a coincidence that Seth’s father said that a security camera from a small convenience store across the street captured video of their son collapsing at the feet of two men and that the police say that now that footage doesn’t exist. But the question we must ask ourselves now is at what point does one coincidence – or 100 – add up to something approaching the truth.

The Larger Picture

 Seth Rich

The case of Seth Rich’s death is not simply a footnote in this larger story about Fox News. If it is true that Rich, acting as a principled whistle blower – rather than some Russian government hack colluding with Donald Trump’s associates – was the source of the initial document dump that wound up impeding Hillary Clinton’s chances in her 2016 presidential election campaign against Donald Trump, then that is big news. A confirmed connection between Seth Rich and Wikileaks would seriously challenge the overwhelming and to date largely successful mainstream/Deep State meme that representatives of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to disseminate internal DNC documents with the intention of harming the Democrat opposition. The whole “Trump has colluded with the Russians” party line that has dominated political discourse for months on end could go up in smoke.

The stakes in terms of how this story ultimately plays out couldn’t be higher and the mind boggles at the possible outcomes.

Back to the future now – August 1, 2017 – and Rod Wheeler has done more today than simply backtrack. Here are some popular current or recent valuable news accounts and links to primary sources that should shed some additional light on the case.

Original Fox5 D.C. story (video) featuring Rod Wheeler May 15, 2017
P.I. hired to investigate the death of Seth Rich says he can prove Rich in talks with Wikileaks

Original Fox5 D.C. story (print) featuring Rod Wheeler May 15, 2017

New Evidence Suggests Seth Rich Was DNC Leaker
Rich had access to leaked DNC emails – Part 1 of in-depth, investigative report into Rich’s murder
Jerome Corsi | May 30, 2017

Seth Rich Mystery: DNC Leaks Came From Inside, Not Russian Hackers
Evidence reveals emails leaks an inside job not due to hacking – Part 2 of in-depth, investigative report into Rich’s murder
Jerome Corsi | – May 30, 2017

Evidence Backs Claim Pro-Bernie Seth Rich Was DNC Leaker
Wikileaks emails an inside job to get back at Hillary, evidence suggests – Part 3 of in-depth, investigative report into Rich’s murder
Jerome Corsi | – May 30, 2017

Hannity Fox News Channel Transcript May 16, 2017 – Rod Wheeler, guest

Video of Rod Wheeler Interviewed by Sean Hannity, Fox News, May 16, 2017

NB: Audio: Rod Wheeler Explains Fox News Fiasco, Claims Brother Blocked WikiLeaks Inquiries
Tue August 1st, 2017 3:08 pm EST 

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran journalist who writes about national politics, media, popular culture, and health care. He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and recently he has started to contribute to the Hagmann Report, including exclusive original articles like this one. His new Web site is Peter’s July 28, 2017 90-minute interview on The Hagmann Report can be watched here.

By Douglas J. Hagmann

This weekend, my neighbor asked me what I knew about the murder of Seth Rich. Instead of answering him, I asked him what he knew about it, which admittedly was not much. He only heard about it from a drive-by media report and couldn’t understand why a shooting during an “attempted robbery” almost a year ago in Washington, DC was being discussed.

It was then I realized that not everyone, even those seemingly knowledgeable about current events, understands the potential significance of this incident. It was then I decided to write this most basic report intended for those who are just learning of the murder of Seth Rich, and explain why it is of such importance.

I also hope to convey why there is such opposition to the investigation and discussion of this tragic event, and why there is such vitriol levied against anyone who is searching for answers to what many want to dismiss as a “botched robbery.”

The following is a very basic introduction of the case compiled from limited releases by official sources, my personal interviews with investigative journalists on my radio show, the Hagmann Report and my own investigation.  First, here are the most basic facts.

Subject & Incident Profile

Victim: Seth Conrad Rich
Address: 2113 1st St.
Washington, DC 20001

Age: 27 DOB:  1/3/1989
Prior Address: 1222 Euclid, Washington DC 20009
Employer: Democratic National Committee (DNC)
Position: Data Analyst
Parents: Joel & Mary Rich, Farnam St, Omaha, NE (Douglas County)
Date of Crime: 10 July 2016 Time: 0419 hours
Location of crime: Southwest corner of W Street & Flagler Place NW, Washington, DC
Incident Type:  GSW (Gunshot Wound(s)) – The victim was reportedly shot twice in the back with a small caliber handgun.

Metropolitan Police Public Incident Report (CCN #16113797; Issued 10 July 2016 at 0710): 

“CIC reports the sound of gunshots at 2134 Flagler Pl. NW. Upon arriving to the scene, the decedent was laying in the Southwest corner of the intersection of W St. and Flagler Pl. NW. The decedent was conscious and breathing with apparent gunshot wound(s) to the back. The decedent was transported to local area hospital and was pronounced dead by attending physician at 0557 hours.”

The public incident report listed the following [capitals/punctuation in source document]:

Responding officer: Jody O’Leary (#7859) – MPD. Assisting officer: ROBERT WINGATE ROBINSON (#7634) (Body Worn Camera), Derek Tarr (#9237) (Other Officers At Scene): Shea Ellis (#9499) (Other Officers At Scene), Benjamin Velez (#6631) (Body Worn Camera), Mark Lee (#6141) (Body Worn Camera).

Motive for the shooting

The motive for the shooting, according to subsequent statements by or on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Department or the Rich family, was that the shooting was a “botched robbery” attempt. This despite that nothing was reportedly taken from the victim. The victim also reportedly sustained pre-mortem wounds to his face, hands and knees in what was described as defensive wounds.

Also according to reports, the victim was conscious upon the arrival of police, although he allegedly provided a previous address to authorities. It is unclear whether the responding officers, as is customary in a shooting, asked the victim who shot him or a description of the shooters. No BOLO alerts were sent out as a result of the initial contact with police.

The preceding information concludes the public information either provided by or admitted to by public officials. Numerous important factors and relationships have been left out by police and public officials.

Mr. Rich reportedly sustained two gunshot wounds from a small caliber handgun. One wound was alleged to be a “through and through” wound, while the other bullet reportedly struck his liver. He was transported to an unidentified hospital where he allegedly died a few hours later.

His murder might have gone as just another statistic and testament to the violence that plagues our inner cities, except for nagging questions about the activities of Seth Rich prior to his murder, combined with other oddities that involve departure from standard operating procedure by the MPD.

On March 17, 2017, GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman announced the creation of the Profile Project and announced a $105,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the Rich murder. As reported by investigative journalist Liz Crokin, Burkman is now claiming that the MPD is thwarting his efforts through non-cooperation.

While other people and groups have added to the reward that now totals well over a quarter of a million dollars, conspicuously absent is his own employer – the DNC.

In the face of accusations of departure from police department SOP and other oddities, the Rich family spokesman, Brad Bauman, has been vitriolic in his condemnation of anyone asking questions about the murder of Seth Rich.

Family spokesman Brad Bauman happens to be a Public Relations crisis manager with the Pastorum Group in Washington, D.C., a firm with progressive ties. In his role as a communications consultant, Bauman offers “strategic communications advice to Democratic candidates and labor unions,” according to his public profile page on LinkedIn.

The real problems with this case, however, have yet to be addressed.

Trouble at the DNC

In the matter of the murder of Seth Conrad Rich, the core issue exists in the growing body of evidence that strongly indicates that Mr. Rich, though his position as a data analyst at the DNC during a hotly contested primary election, might have discovered fraudulent and perhaps criminal activity that could affect the outcome of the party nomination (from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Rodham Clinton). 

Subsequent reports verified that Seth Rich was an ardent supporter of then-DNC candidate Bernie Sanders. By virtue of his job description, Rich was positioned to have access to data that could prove poll tampering in favor of Clinton. Concurrently, his importance to anyone conspiring to maintain the specific narrative of foreign interference rose exponentially, if not unexpectedly, should his alleged discovery be exposed. Should such alleged tampering be made public, it would obviously have devastating consequences to those “fixing” the polls.

Accordingly, Mr. Rich might well have found himself in a very lonely and unenviable position of possessing information which, at the very least, is vital to the integrity of our election process. Specifically, this information would be most problematic for those conspiring to assure the party nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

This situation is further clouded and exacerbated by constant media allegations of “hacks” of our election process by foreign entities, specifically the Russians, which has become and continues to be the official account of the DNC and supporters of Hillary Clinton. While these alleged hacks reportedly both pre-date and postdate the murder of Seth Rich, he has nonetheless become a key subject of interest due to his position with the Democratic National Committee and the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.

It is important to note that on June 14, 2016, about a month before Seth Rich was murdered, The Washington Post reported that “Russian hackers” obtained DNC communications, and reportedly had access to DNC computers for approximately one year before discovery and lockdown. It is also vital to note that this information did not come from the FBI or any law enforcement agency of the United States government, but from the private cyber security firm CrowdStrike, which was called in to handle the DNC breach despite the FBI offering its services which were curiously rejected.

These odd rejections were verified by former FBI Director James Comey himself during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on January 10, 2017. Comey testified that the FBI made multiple requests, but was denied direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s email servers and other “hacked devices” as part of its probe of Russian hacking.

It was within this environment of alleged poll fixing and reports of Russian intrusion into the DNC computers that Seth Rich found himself. Having direct access to the DNC computers and perhaps finding irregularities that could impact the outcome of the primaries, it is conceivable that Seth Rich might have been long on critical information but short on trusted friends.

Anyone who has spent any time in Washington knows that trust within the beltway is a rare commodity. Consider then, the predicament of a young man from Nebraska at the moment he realizes that he possesses evidence of fraudulent and criminal activity at the highest levels of the DNC. 

Seth Rich & Wikileaks

For the last decade, Wikileaks has existed and received millions of leaked documents that exposed, among many things, the machinations of the powerful and those in power. The methods used to provide information to Wikileaks have consisted of electronic transfer as well as the transfer of information through handoffs of portable storage devices.

Is it possible that Seth Rich reached out to Wikileaks to expose the possible and alleged fraud within the DNC?

According to published reports by at least two sources, the answer is yes. One source is Rod Wheeler, the DC private investigator hired by a representative of the Rich family to investigate his murder. Another is the infamous hacker Kim-Dot-Com. One might also consider Julian Assange of Wikileaks himself, although not directly, but by his offering a $25,000 reward on August 9, 2016, less than one month after Seth Rich was murdered.

Considered in totality, there appears to be sufficient circumstantial evidence to suggest that Seth Rich did, in fact, communicate with Wikileaks at some point prior to his murder. Direct evidence in the form of forensic analysis of his computer devices and cell phones, however is presently non-existent. Why? There appears to be a problem locating his electronic devices, as both the DC police and the FBI deny custody.

The Russian Conspiracy Theory

The primary component that is used to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election of Donald Trump is foreign interference of our election process, specifically by Russia. To this day, this unproven conspiracy theory is repeated ad nauseum by the corporate media without any authenticated proof from any government law enforcement agency.

The primary source of this narrative is the private cyber security firm CrowdStrike as referenced by the June 14, 2016 report in The Washington Post and picked up by other media outlets. CrowdStrike was hired and paid for by the DNC in June 2016, essentially making the Russian hacking account a paid product of the DNC. 

All told, there were at least four-(4) separate hacks into the DNC computers: the Democratic Caucus “hack(s),” the Podesta email “hack(s),” the DNC “hack(s)” and the Clinton Foundation “hack(s).” Included in the above is the strange account of the Awan brothers, three highly-paid Pakistani nationals who were employed as IT specialists shared among House Democrats. Working under Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Awan brothers are at the center of controversy in a series of thefts discovered early this year.

Also overlapping this period was the FBI investigation into the handling of classified emails by Hillary Rodham Clinton and staff. On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey held a press conference at the conclusion of his investigation, where he accused Clinton of serious mishandling of classified information contained in emails and computer documents, but stopped short of recommending any referrals to the Department of Justice.

As one can see, there exist numerous problems with computer security, both party data and government equipment and information. The Seth Rich case, however, surrounds the DNC polling data that might have given the party’s nomination to Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders.

The importance of exposing the information possessed by Seth Rich is two-fold and very significant. Obviously, it would expose the false Russian hacking narrative that has been used to delegitimize the Presidency of Donald Trump, and also expose the “rigging” of the DNC nomination process.

Just the Beginning

There is more – much more – about this. There is much more information that will break this week about this case. For now, however, I am going to print this explanation for my neighbor, who is a hostage of the corporate media.

Perhaps this will help your neighbor when the murder of Seth Rich arises in conversation in the coming days. And I suspect it will.

By Douglas J. Hagmann

I understand what the family of Seth Rich is feeling better than most, as I too lost a close family member to a homicide that went unsolved for five years. Near the five-year anniversary of my uncle’s murder, my family hired a private investigator; it was me. More accurately, it was my PI firm led by me and my partner. Six months later, an arrest was made. The perpetrator was convicted in a jury trial, and is now spending the remainder of his life in prison.

I lived with the pain of my family. I saw it up close, especially with every news update that we gave. I watched my father hold back tears as we discussed the case in private. I saw and at times, was the recipient of his anger and angst, and from other family members as well, as the private life of my uncle was laid bare by the media. Accordingly, I feel I can write with some authority about the unsolved murder of Seth Rich and the publicity surrounding it.

A decade later and as my father lay dying of cancer, less than a week before his death, I was sitting next to him in the quiet of his home. It was one of those father-son moments for which Hallmark makes no cards. It was sheer reality, in all of its brutality. It was a time when true feelings can no longer be hidden, when every second is more precious than the last. My father was more lucid than I had seen him in a while when he spoke to me about his brother, my uncle, who had been savagely murdered, and my role in solving the case.

“I never really said thank you,” he said just above a whisper.

“For what?” I asked. A tear formed in his eye as he pointed to a picture of my uncle.

“For helping the family. For the work you did. It was a horrible time, but it brought the family closer. Thank you for that,” he said as he drifted back into a morphine-induced sleep.

Resolution of this case is critical not just for the sake of justice, but for the nation

That was one of the last coherent conversations I had with my dad. He died 4 days later.

I feel for the family of Seth Rich. It brings back painful memories. However, the resolution of this case is critical not just for the sake of justice, but for the nation.

Without an honest investigation and arrest, Seth Rich will have no justice, the family no peace, and the nation no answers. I understand the pain. I also understand the stakes.

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