After three years of claiming that it could not find any records about murdered Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich, the FBI admitted today that it has thousands of pages of information about him, further admitting that it has custody of his laptop.
So what changed between then and now? Here’s an excerpt from the email that I received this morning from an attorney representing the FBI against my client, Brian Huddleston, in Huddleston v. FBI, Case No. 4:20-CV-00447 (E.D. Tex.):
FBI has completed the initial search identifying approximately 50 cross-reference serials, with attachments totaling over 20,000 pages, in which Seth Rich is mentioned. FBI has also located leads that indicate additional potential records that require further searching. At this time, FBI anticipates processing only the pages where Seth Rich is mentioned, along with perhaps another page or two in each situation to provide context. The issue right now with this batch of documents is the amount of labor required to ingest all of the material so that the responsive pages will, first, be in a page format, secondly, can be identified from among the thousands of non-responsive pages, and finally, be processed.
FBI is also currently working on getting the files from Seth Rich’s personal laptop into a format to be reviewed. As you can imagine, there are thousands of files of many types. The goal right now is to describe, generally, the types of files/personal information contained in this computer. Furthermore, the FBI will continue to evaluate the responsiveness of these files under the FOIA.
In summary, FBI has made significant progress in the search, but there is still much work that lies ahead, including (1) ) processing the approximately 50 cross-references (with thousands of pages to ingest and sort through), 2) undertaking some level of review of the personal laptop, and 3) completing all remaining searches.
Unfortunately, these efforts are hampered by FBI FOIA office’s reduction to a 50% staffing posture due to Covid.
In light of the status of this search and the work left to be done, we propose an additional 3 months to complete the tasks described above. At that time, we will propose a production schedule and briefing schedule.
I would like to provide this status update to the Court with the proposed schedule. Please let me know if you would like to file something jointly with the Court, or if you would prefer that I file this and you can respond accordingly.
In his 2018 declaration, Mr. Hardy also testified that the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. was solely responsible for investigating Mr. Rich’s murder. So why does the FBI have Mr. Rich’s laptop rather than MPD? And after fighting tooth and nail to hide this information for so long, why is the FBI coming clean now?
There are reasons why I’ve refused to let go of this story, but unfortunately I cannot discuss most of those reasons publicly. On October 12. 2020, for example, I sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr and Special Counsel John Durham about evidence that is covered by a protective order but very pertinent to the “Russian collusion” investigation (the letter is misdated “2019”). Read the letter [below] for yourself, and then ask yourself why Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham have ignored it. In particular, ask yourself why Mr. Durham refuses to investigate anything related to Seth Rich.2020.10.12-Letter-to-Barr-Durham-redacted-v.1
And why is Fox News working so hard to kill this story? I wish I could say more about Fox’s behind-the-scenes treachery — and someday hopefully I will — but rest assured that Malia Zimmerman’s May 17, 2017 about Mr. Rich was fully vetted by senior Fox management. I repeatedly encouraged Fox’s attorneys to postpone settlement discussions with Seth Rich’s parents until I obtained the FBI records (my client, Ed Butowsky, was a co-defendant with Fox), but Fox was hellbent on settling the case in October / November. That’s around the time Rupert Murdoch publicly joined forces with Joe Biden. Fox had a very strong defense, yet it rolled over and played dead, settling the lawsuit and then firing Ms. Zimmerman. Sooner or later, the full story will come out, and it will be very ugly for Fox News and the Murdoch family.
Speaking of bad journalism…
Well-known journalists like David Isikoff at NPR, Andy Kroll at Rolling Stone, and Michael Isikoff at Yahoo!News have been acting more like government propagandists where the Seth Rich story is concerned, and they have not hesitated to smear people (like my client, Mr. Butowsky) who dare to question the official narrative. Consider this excerpt from a November 24, 2020 hit piece by Folkenflik:
Behind the scenes, [Zimmerman’s] reporting depended heavily upon the involvement of investment advisor Edward Butowsky, then an unpaid Fox News commentator. In public, the story relied upon quotes from a private investigator that he never said, as both Zimmerman and Butowsky later acknowledged in a taped conversation.
The second sentence is entirely fabricated, because the “taped conversation” never happened. In fact, the private investigator, Rod Wheeler, had approved the quotes in writing before the story was published. Worse, Folkenflik knew all of that because he spent more than two years in litigation with my client, Mr. Butowsky, and he had access to all of the evidence.
I never intended to be a defamation lawyer — I’m a former journalist, after all — but people like Folkenflik, Kroll, and Stone have changed my mind. For the sake of the country, we need to start suing dirty journalists into bankruptcy.
If you know something, say something
If you have any tips, send them my way. If you’re inside the government, we can form an attorney-client relationship or I can put you in touch with a whistleblower attorney.
by Ty Clevenger
About LawFlog and Ty Clevenger
LawFlog is the blog of Ty Clevenger, a Texas attorney who lives in Brooklyn. You can reach Ty at tyclevenger at gmail dot com, you can follow Lawflog on Facebook or Twitter (@Ty_Clevenger), or you can leave a voice message at 979-985-5289.