Lawsuit Claims Fox News, Trump Conspired on DNC Staffer Murder Story

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In a statement Monday, Fox's president of news, Jay Wallace, called Wheeler's accusation that the story was published to detract from the Russian investigation "completely erroneous".

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of NY on behalf of private investigator and Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler, asserts that Fox News's Malia Zimmerman, with the knowledge and support of Trump supporter Ed Butowsky, invented quotations attributed to Wheeler in an article that linked Rich and Wikileaks.

Seth Rich's parents are "hopeful" a new lawsuit against Fox News will put an end to the "evil", fake conspiracy surrounding the Democratic National Committee staffer's murder.

Wheeler's defamation lawsuit, which names Fox News, a Fox reporter and a wealthy businessman as defendants, is an outgrowth of the slaying last summer of Seth Rich, a young data specialist at the DNC.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, alleges that Fox News defamed Wheeler by attributing false comments to him.

The lawsuit also cites a text message from Butowsky to Wheeler, in which Butowsky claims that Trump read the article and wanted it published quickly. Trump wanted the story published to divert attention from the widening investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia, Wheeler claims. He wants the article out immediately.

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Then-press secretary Sean Spicer admits that he met with Wheeler and Butowski in April, but in a statement issued Tuesday said: "The White House had nothing to do with (the) story".

"The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman's story to help detract from coverage of the Russian Federation collusion issue is completely erroneous", Wallace said. Now, this story is confusing and includes a lot of conflicting statements.

"I've never talked to President Trump in my life", Butowsky said, denying that the White House had "anything to do with any of this". Butowsky said that Wheeler complained to him that he was misquoted, but that he has emails showing him approving the quotes. "It's now all up to you. but don't feel the pressure". 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.

Beyond his business, Butowsky has also plied his trade as a go-to analyst for reporters and broadcasters, frequently popping up on television or in news articles.

"The president had no knowledge of the story and it's completely untrue that he and the White House were involved", White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a press briefing Tuesday. He asked for a 10 minute meeting, with no specified topic, to catch up and said he would be bringing along a contributor to Fox News.

CNNMoney reached out to Butowsky about the interview, but he said that he hadn't seen it. "I [was] being told, 'you will ask this, you will cover this.' For instance, after the gas attack in Syria - that awful sarin gas attack - I was asked to put questions to the White House that framed the issue in such a way that made it seem like the attack didn't happen - that it was staged".

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