The Origins Of The Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory
July 11, 20195:22 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition
NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, about his reporting on the origins of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.
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Re: Seth Rich - Important Update on Ed Butowsky Lawsuits
Submitted by veganmark on Mon, 07/15/2019
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BOMBSHELL: Lawsuit alleges Seth Rich leaked emails to Wikileaks
July 23, 2019 · by Brook Hines · in Florida History · 7 Comments
CONTESTED PROVENANCE OF DNC EMAILS
Two narratives compete to explain how Donald Trump became president. One says a vast Russian conspiracy did it with Yosemite Sam memes posted to Facebook, and Russian government hackers who stole email from the DNC to embarrass Hillary Clinton by showing the lengths to which establishment Democrats went to undermine the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. This is the official Russiagate narrative.
The other narrative says that Clinton just well … lost. The Facebook ads were placed by a clickbait farm and instead of a ‘hack,’ someone inside the DNC leaked the emails to Wikileaks. This narrative has been ferociously opposed by the Democratic establishment, and has been likened to the wild conspiratorial rantings of Alex Jones. This is the DNC leak narrative....
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. . .
In his defense, Butowsky is bringing out new information that he apparently believes will be supported through discovery. Here’s some of what he’s alleging in the lawsuit:
1. Butowsky first heard that Seth Rich leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks from a personal friend who visited Assange in London. Assange asked her to relay that information to Seth Rich’s parents because Assange believed that the murder could be connected to the leak.
2. The person who provided this information is Ellen Ratner, the sister of one of Assange’s lawyers at the time. Her brother (Assange attorney), Michael Ratner, had recently passed away.
3. Butowsky claims that when he called the parents on December 17, 2016 to relay this information, Seth’s father Joel Rich, said he already knew that Seth and his brother Aaron had leaked the emails.
4. It’s further claimed in Butowksy’s suit that Joel Rich said the reason they weren’t going public with this information was because the family was afraid to be blamed for Trump being elected.
5. Ellen Ratner is an analyst for Fox News and White House Correspondent for Talk Radio News. Butowsky claims that in this capacity, Ratner told Bill Shine and Malia Zimmerman at Fox about the Assange allegation.
6. According to Butowsky’s complaint, Seymour Hersh also confirmed that Seth Rich leaked the emails to Wikileaks. The complaint alleges the source of Sy Hersh’s information was Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
7. Butowsky’s lawsuit alleges Joel Rich told him Brad Bauman had been “assigned” by the DNC as a public relations consultant to the Riches. Bauman would speak for the Rich family in all media contacts.
8. The complaint further alleges that once Bauman was “assigned” to the Riches, their story changed to exclude information about their son leaking emails to Wikileaks.
9. Butowsky claims that the DNC under the leadership of Donna Brazile threatened Aaron Rich with federal computer crime charges if he didn’t cooperate with the official Russiagate narrative.
10. Butowsky says he asked Ratner why she didn’t break the Assange story herself and that she replied that she couldn’t because the information was obtained in the context of a “family” meeting.
11. Butowsky describes how counsel for Aaron Rich in a separate lawsuit is blocking a subpoena and/or waiver from Julian Assange/Wikileaks to release information about Seth Rich’s leaking of the DNC emails.
12. Butowsky alleges that at the behest of Interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe buried information about the Seth Rich, making it unavilable for FOIA requests.
13. Butowsky alleges that at the request of Donna Brazile, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser scuttled the homicide investigation with the help of then-DC Police Chief Kathy Lanier who made sure that police didn’t investigate any angles that might connect the murder to email leaks, and stick to the “botched robbery” narrative.
There’s a lot going on here, but the gist is that Butowsky alleges a much different core story regarding Seth Rich’s involvement in Wikileaks and the DNC email case than has been previously released. Much of the new information rests on his claimed discussions with Ellen Ratner, and how she supposedly came upon the new information from Assange. Reading between the lines, it seems possible that as the sister of a lawyer representing Julian Assange, Ratner might be concerned about violating attorney-client privilege rather than “family privilege” if she was privy to private conversations between her brother and Assange.
Not included in the lawsuit is the backstory of how legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh became involved. It seems to go something like this: Hersh (or the person so identified in the recording) calls Ed Butowsky at the suggestion of a mutual friend. They exchange notes on the Seth Rich case because Hersh is writing an article on the case (not published as yet). In the audio, Hersh says he has a source in the FBI who read the FBI’s cyber unit file on Seth Rich showing that he’d been in contact with Wikileaks, that he’d sent Wikileaks sample emails, and that he asked Wikileaks for an amount of money in exchange for access to a Dropbox that contained the data.
On Sunday July 21, a YouTube channel called Debunking Rod Wheeler ostensibly controlled by Butowsky released audio of a 20-minute conversation purportedly between Butowsky and Hersh. You can find that audio here. Previously, the same channel had provided an edited version of this audio which was less than seven minutes long. Butowsky’s voice had been edited out of the original version. Now the entire conversation can be heard.
The original audio is what initially compelled me to take Butowsky’s claims more seriously. In the audio (the person purported to be, and who is obviously) Hersh says he doesn’t believe Seth was murdered because of the leak. He says he had a source read a file concerning the retrieval of data from Seth Rich’s laptop which showed that Seth had negotiated with Wikileaks to leak the emails in exchange for an amount of money.
Hersh goes on to say that that he has a narrative about how Russiagate began. “It was a Brennan operation,” he says in the audio. “An American disinformation…at one point they even started telling the press—they were back briefing the press that ‘we even know who in the GRU the Russian and the Russian military intelligence service, who leaked it.’ I mean, all bullshit.”
Butowsky’s lawsuit covers some of this information about Russiagate which he called the Russian Collusion Hoax (RCH).
It increases Butowsky’s credibility in this defamation complaint that he’s bringing but one central claim: Seth and his brother Aaron Rich leaked the emails to Wikileaks. All the other stuff hinges on this one allegation. Butowsky would be crazy to sue three giant law firms and three giant media companies on the basis of a lie — or even on the basis of a truth that’s impossible to prove. Ergo, he either knows how to prove his allegations or he’s off his nut. Either way, we may learn the answer as the suit and its discovery process progress.
Butowsky’s central claim should be relatively easy to prove or disprove. They could depose Ratner, Joel Rich or Aaron Rich. If Butowsky is telling the truth, at least one of these subjects would likely confirm it, plead the 5th Amendment (which would effectively answer the question) or face sanctions from the court. Discovery should also allow Butowsky to request production of documents supporting his claim. If any monies were paid to Seth Rich or Aaron Rich, there should be documentation from financial institutions, or services used to transfer funds such as PayPal. According to the purported voice of Sy Hersh there should be documentation in the form of records in the possession of the FBI. With Attorney General Robert Barr’s declassification of Russiagate documents, these records could soon be available through FOIA request.
One thing is for sure, if it turns out that the DNC emails were leaked by a disgruntled employee rather than hacked by Russian military intelligence officers of the GRU, the entire media establishment and DNC will owe it to America to come clean and do it fast.
With the threat of escalating tension with Russia, this controversy has become an existential threat to our national security. It’s no longer about scoring points against Trump—it’s about the truth.
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. . . Hersh has refused to comment on this recording, which is smart. Stepping back from the Seth Rich narrative, for a fuller view of the playing field, I believe Hersh is on to a larger story. It might actually turn out to be lucky for him that the purloined audio has generated so much attention, because if he does have a story near completion, the pre-release interest just shot through the roof.
. . .
Take the secretly recorded conversation in the context of Sy Hersh’s interview with Jeremy Scahill on the pilot episode of Intercepted released way back in January, and you’ll find that one thing is consistent in both: Hersh mentions a long-form narrative concerning the Russians, election interference, and the intelligence community.
. . .
Profane throughout the audio, Hersh’s righteous indignation is most palpable here, describing an active propaganda campaign coordinated by intelligence agencies during the 2016 election. He is no fan of Trump, but he’s less a fan of intelligence operations on US soil. He is outraged that US officials and intelligence agencies appear to have fabricated lies intended to influence public opinion. The last time this happened the lie got us into a war with Iraq. This time the result could be war with Russia—a conflict that has historically been discussed in nuclear terms. Hersh might say, ‘this is a big f*cking deal.’
By comparison, when Hersh discusses the Seth Rich material, it’s in a detached, process-oriented manner. He betrays no indignation on the information he has on Rich. Instead, he methodically describes how each bit of information was gathered—warrants were obtained, there was a clear chain of custody for the computer, information was catalogued. He downplays the notion of politically-motivated murder. “He was a good kid,” living in a “rough neighborhood,” who “makes contact with Wikileaks,” and shouldn’t have been walking alone so late in a bad neighborhood. It’s a shame this kid died, but that’s not his story. Hersh only seems interested in how Wikileaks obtained the DNC emails.
On the matter of Seth Rich and the DNC leak Hersh is quite clear. “They found what he had done. He had submitted a bunch of juicy emails from the DNC.” During the computer audit, the FBI found his contact with Wikileaks, and they know that the emails were the subject of a negotiation. Then Hersh drops a bombshell: “And by the way, you know, it wasn’t hacked. Whatever happened, the Democrats wrote this shit.”
stickdog99 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:54 am wrote:When you examine means, motive, and opportunity, the answer to who more likely leaked the DNC emails is patently obvious.
stickdog99 wrote:What's funny is that the same people who fabricated a completely untenable conspiracy theory get to shut down their critics by shouting "conspiracy theory"!
Elvis » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:38 pm wrote:When they concoct a conspiracy theory, they call it "analysis."
Marionumber1 » 11 Aug 2019 18:25 wrote:stickdog99 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:54 am wrote:When you examine means, motive, and opportunity, the answer to who more likely leaked the DNC emails is patently obvious.
I really do have to respectfully disagree here, as someone who views Seth Rich's death with suspicion but has never believed that he leaked the emails. No one has shown that his position at the DNC (which was not in IT) gave him access to the emails nor that he would have been motivated to dig for them. Seth was a data director for the voter expansion project, meaning that he managed data on voters, polling places, election issues, etc. That confirmed line of work that he did leads to a far more plausible possibility of what he may have leaked/tried to leak: evidence that voter registration databases were being tampered with during the 2016 primaries to disenfranchise Bernie Sanders supporters.
Admittedly, one possibility I can see for motive is if, in the course of investigating the voter registration tampering, he uncovered signs of DNC complicity and wanted to search for proof or see what else they had been up to. But that's a pretty roundabout explanation which still doesn't account for means or opportunity.
stickdog99 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:18 am wrote:So Russian hackers are more likely? What about the timestamp that indicates a flash drive?
Marionumber1 » 15 Aug 2019 15:40 wrote:stickdog99 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:18 am wrote:So Russian hackers are more likely? What about the timestamp that indicates a flash drive?
When did I say anything about Russia or oppose the idea that the DNC emails were leaked by an insider? I did not dispute the likelihood that it was a leak instead of a hack, only that Seth Rich would have fulfilled such a role as the leaker. Since when was there a dichotomy where the only two possibilities are Seth Rich leaked the emails or Russia hacked the emails? This is like criticizing Hillary and getting "but Trump" in response or vice versa.
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