White House Denies Involvement With Fox News Story at Center of Lawsuit

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

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

In a statement provided to CNN, Jay Wallace, Fox News' president of news, said the lawsuit's accusations are false and said the company's internal investigation into the retracted story has turned up no evidence Zimmerman fabricated quotes.

Butowsky appeared to be attempting to impeach the credibility of the lawsuit's plaintiff, private investigator Rod Wheeler, who alleges that Fox News used falsified quotes attributed to him. Fox News heavyweights, including Sean Hannity, pushed the conspiracy for a week, suggesting Rich may have been murdered by the DNC, until Fox News finally retracted the piece and apologized for the suggestion. In May of this year, Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman claimed in a story that Rich was tied to the DNC email dump - rather than Russian hackers. After Fox's story lit up pro-Trump media in May, the Rich family revealed that Butowsky was subsidizing Wheeler's investigation into the murder, which Washington, D.C. police have blamed on a botched robbery. The lawsuit also quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky in May 2017 indicating that President Trump had seen a draft of the story before it was published and subsequently went on air with a segment on "Fox and Friends". He wants the article out immediately Its now all up to you.

The suit also alleges that Butowsky kept Sean Spicer, then White House spokesman, and senior Trump aide Steve Bannon, informed about his efforts.

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Vanity Fair correspondent and NBC News contributor Gabriel Sherman on Tuesday said in a Twitter post, "Ed Butowsky tells me federal lawsuit is "bullshit" and denies sharing Fox article with [the White House]". For his part, Butowsky told NPR that his statement about Trump approving of the story was a joke.

"At no point in time did Mr. Wheeler say that his investigation revealed that Seth Rich sent any emails to WikiLeaks, nor did he say that the DNC, Democratic Party or Clintons were engaged in a cover-up", his suit alleges. Butowsky said that Wheeler complained to him that he was misquoted, but that he has emails showing him approving the quotes.

"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". The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of NY, alleges Butowsky and Zimmerman kept in regular contact with Trump administration officials on the story, and that President Donald Trump himself read the article before it was published.

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Butowsky took the interview in an attempt to clear his name from the allegations in the explosive lawsuit, but the more information he offered, the more byzantine and confusing the case became.

The motivation behind the story, published a week after the firing of FBI Director James Comey created a firestorm, was to "shift the blame from Russian Federation and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russian Federation", the suit said. "He requested a 10-minute meeting to catch up".

The president had no knowledge of the story and it's completely untrue that he or the white house had any involvement in this story. I got a note that we have the full attention of the white house on this.

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