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WikiLeaks and Fox News Are Silent on the Debunked Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory

Jeff Roberson/AP/REX/Shutterstock (Hannity); Rob Pinney/LNP/REX/Shutterstock (Assange) WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted final report drove a dagger through the heart of one of the most notorious conspiracy theories of the Trump era: that a murdered DNC staffer named Seth Rich — not Russia — stole tens of thousands of Democratic Party emails and gave them to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential race. The baseless theories about Rich first appeared online within 24 hours of his killing on July 10th, 2016. In May 2017, the network’s website published a story reporting that Rich had “contact with WikiLeaks,” only to retract the story entirely a week later. “Now, if Rich in fact was WikiLeaks’ source for the DNC email leaks, it would confirm Russia was not involved,” Hannity said on his May 18th, 2017, show. They’ve not been proven to get one fact wrong that they have published.” (After the retraction, Fox News’s president in charge of news said that the reporting process that went into the story was “being investigated internally,” but Fox has yet to say what came of that investigation.) “The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails.” “We appreciate that the facts included in the Mueller report confirm what we have said all along: Seth had nothing to do with taking DNC emails or WikiLeaks,” Joel and Mary Rich, Seth’s parents, said in a statement sent to Rolling Stone by their lawyer. Rolling Stone sent detailed questions to representatives for some of the most influential promoters of the Rich conspiracy theories — Fox News, Sean Hannity, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. None of them responded to multiple requests for comment. In March 2018, Aaron Rich sued a one-time Fox guest, a pro-Trump blogger and the right-leaning Washington Times newspaper for defamation after they accused him of helping his brother steal documents from the DNC and providing them to WikiLeaks in exchange for money that went to Aaron Rich’s bank account. Aaron Rich’s legal strategy has so far led to retractions and apologies from the Washington Times (which was then dropped from his suit) as well as pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi and the website InfoWars.

Trump declares Mueller-probe win, tweeting out NY Post front page

President Trump, reiterating his firm belief that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation had been a political and unsuccessful witch hunt, tweeted out the New York Post's front page and its bold, declarative headline: "TRUMP CLEAN." The page showed Trump smiling alongside the phrases, "No crimes committed," and "Dem hoax destroyed." The tweet was something of a victory lap for Trump, after Mueller's report said there wasn't enough evidence to charge him with either conspiracy or obstruction of justice. Despite what Trump's tweets may have implied, the battle was far from over, however, as congressional Democrats continued to push their own follow-up investigation. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, spoke of concerns about Russian election meddling and collusion. He said that even though Mueller's report didn't show collusion "beyond a reasonable doubt," it contained enough suspicious information to raise red flags. "There was certainly evidence of collusion, not evidence that met the beyond a reasonable doubt standard," he said. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for impeachment proceedings in the aftermath of the Mueller report's release, and pushed back on concerns that the issue might hurt Democrats' 2020 prospects. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., also pushed a resolution calling on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Trump committed impeachable offenses. "Special alternate-universe front-page award to [New York Post]," Dan Froomkin, editor of White House Watch, tweeted.

Controversial Steele dossier back in spotlight after Mueller report’s release

But despite an intensive two-year investigation, Mueller’s team found no evidence of any such tape. The New York Times, in a lengthy article on the Steele dossier's current standing, noted that there is no evidence in the Mueller report on a number of claims: “DNC moles, Romanian hackers, Russian pensioners -- or years of Trump-Putin intelligence trafficking.” But a lawyer for Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier, told The Times that the Mueller probe backed up “the core reporting” in the Steele memos -- including that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed “a covert operation” to have Trump elected. Horowitz has said he will address the question of whether the FBI followed all "legal requirements" when applying for that warrant. One official told the outlet that he had the impression that the IG report “is going to try and deeply undermine” Steele. Republicans in Congress have long focused on the dossier, claiming that it formed the origins of what became Mueller's Russia investigation. They and the president have noted in particular the dossier's funding by the DNC and Clinton campaign. "You can't have the FBI using one party's opposition research document to launch an investigation and spy on the other party's campaign," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on “Cavuto Live” on Saturday. On Thursday, California Republican Devin Nunes told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the report shows that the dossier also formed part of the memo that established the scope of the special counsel’s investigation. Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers that he intends to review FBI and DOJ conduct during the formative days of the Russia investigation -- where the Steele dossier played a role. Trump, meanwhile, has pledged to “get to the bottom” of the origins of the Russian probe, and has promised to “turn the tables” and investigate the investigators -- which could include closer scrutiny of the role that Steele's infamous dossier played.

Democrats condemn attorney general’s plan for rollout of Mueller report

On the eve of the long-anticipated release of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian tampering in the 2016 election and alleged Trump campaign involvement, Democrats accused the attorney general, William Barr, of trying to “cherry-pick” and “put his own spin” on the conclusions of the investigation. “Now it appears that the attorney general intends to once again put his own spin on the investigative work completed by the special counsel and his team,” Nadler said. “The fact that the attorney general is not releasing even the redacted report to Congress until after his press conference will again result in the report being presented in his own words, rather than in the words of special counsel Robert Mueller. “The central concern here is that Attorney General Barr is not allowing the facts of the Mueller report to speak for themselves, but is instead trying to bake in the narrative about the report to the benefit of the White House.” Mueller's Trump-Russia report to be released on Thursday Read more Nadler said he would subpoena the full report “in very short order” and said he assumed it would be useful to call Mueller and members of his team to testify before Congress. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, argued Americans deserved to see the truth, “not a sanitized version of the Mueller Report approved by the Trump Admin”. The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested”, they added. The nearly 400-page report is expected to reveal what Mueller uncovered about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia that fell short of criminal conduct. It will also lay out the special counsel’s conclusions about formative episodes in Trump’s presidency, including his firing of the FBI director James Comey and his efforts to undermine the Russia investigation publicly and privately. Trump announced Barr’s press conference during a radio interview Wednesday before the justice department did. The letter said Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government but he found evidence on “both sides” of the question of whether the president obstructed justice.

Why the Mueller Report Is Causing ‘Breakdown-Level’ Stress Among White House Staff

Cliff Owen/AP/REX/Shutterstock More than qualifications, more than intelligence, more than a Rolodex filled with Russian oligarchs, President Trump values loyalty. It’s also why the current and former White House staff members are reportedly worried about what may be revealed when a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report is released to the public on Thursday. According to NBC News, more than a dozen officials who cooperated with Mueller’s investigation are concerned they will be outed as a source of information that hurts the president. A former White House official said there is concern among staff that “the wrath” of Trump and his allies “will follow” if they are revealed to have provided the special counsel with information that doesn’t reflect well on Trump, particularly regarding his potential obstruction of justice. “You have a whole bunch of former White House officials and current White House officials, but especially former White House officials, who were told to cooperate,” said the former official. The redaction guidelines he later outlined in a letter to congressional leaders were vague as well. Last September, in the wake of a highly publicized op-ed in which an anonymous staffer detailed the lengths the administration goes to prevent Trump from destroying the country, Axios reported that the president had grown increasingly paranoid about the trustworthiness of his underlings, and even carried around a handwritten list of suspected leakers. “We’ve gotta get rid of them,'” a source close to Trump quoted him as saying. On Sunday, ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported that the White House is worried about what McGahn, who sat down with Mueller’s team for at least 30 hours, may have told the special counsel about the president’s potential obstruction of justice, particularly regarding his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. According to Karl, the White House never debriefed McGahn, who left the administration last October, about what he told the special counsel’s office.

Why Trump Is Suddenly So Worried About the Mueller Report

At the same time, he seems increasingly nervous about the public seeing a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings, which Attorney General William Barr says he will release Thursday. INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS! When Attorney General William Barr released his “principle conclusions” of the report last month, he quoted it as noting that the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Mueller did not, however, contend that Trump did not obstruct justice, writing that his team was not able to “exonerate” the president. It was Barr, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who concluded the report did not contain enough evidence “to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” But earlier this month, members of Mueller’s team leaked to the Washington Post that they found “alarming and significant” evidence of obstruction that “was much more acute than Barr suggested.” The Times later reported that Mueller’s team believes what they found is “more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated.” The White House is worried. The White House has been briefed on the Mueller report and "there is significant concern on the president's team about what will be in this report," and "what worries them most is what Don McGahn told the special counsel," @jonkarl reports https://t.co/p9QKxcDdC3 #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/xkh64AN8iW — This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 14, 2019 “What worries them most is what [former White House counsel] Don McGhan told the special counsel,” Karl said. It was reported earlier that he spent 30 hours before the special counsel.” This White House probably should have been prepared for the possibility that whatever McGhan told the special counsel would eventually go public, but they forgot to ask him about it. The bottom line is that they really don’t know.” Last August, the New York Times reported McGhan cooperated “extensively” with Mueller’s investigation, and that he provided “investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.” McGhan’s conversations with Mueller’s team reportedly centered around Comey’s firing, his efforts to convince former attorney general Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from overseeing the investigation and attempts to fire Mueller outright. The special counsel’s office reportedly pursued several avenues in probing potential obstruction of justice, even taking into considering Trump’s many tweets excoriating Sessions for allowing the investigation to continue. That is, never forget, the crime….. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019 ….Since there was no Collusion, why was there an Investigation in the first place! The Times reported on Sunday that he’s done so in part to distract from the Mueller report.

Rep. Mike Turner: The Mueller report ‘gives us confidence back in our democracy’

As Congress awaits the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, said it “gives us confidence back in our democracy.” Turner made the comment on “America’s Newsroom” Monday, saying confidence returned because "it says that there was no collusion and we know certainly that we did not have the aspect of the Trump campaign doing that.” He added, “I do think there should be a concern, though, in knowing what has happened with respect to the Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee-funded dossier, where they actually hired a retired former intelligence officer that was British for the purposes of talking to Russians and then use that information in a way where the government used it to undertake surveillance on the other campaign. I think that's absolutely wrong and I think that's a threat.” Mueller's much-anticipated report is set to be released to the public and Congress with redactions on Thursday morning, the Justice Department announced Monday. The news comes despite mounting calls from Democrats to first release the report to Congress without redactions. “We gave Mueller the assignment of to come to a conclusion and that’s certainly what he’s done, is finding no collusion,” Turner said in response to Democrats' demands to first release the report to Congress. “One thing is going to be important, though, is that I think it would be absolutely wrong for portions of the report to be released to Congress and not released to the public because already we have people like Adam Schiff and his minions standing up and saying that the Barr statement says that there was no criminal collusion found. Well actually, the quote directly from the report says that they were unable to establish a collusion at all. So if they are going to twist words that we all can read, we certainly don't want to give select access and then let others tell us what it says.” Last month, Mueller submitted his almost 400-page report to the Justice Department for review by the attorney general and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Bill Barr relayed some of the primary findings of the report, stating the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 presidential election. Barr said he identified four areas of the report that he believed should be redacted including grand jury material and information the intelligence community believes would reveal intelligence sources and methods.

House Judiciary Democrats authorize subpoenas for Mueller report

The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report after the Justice Department missed a Democrat-imposed deadline, in a major escalation of the battle between Congress and the Trump administration over access to underlying documents and evidence from the Russia probe. The vote was 24-17, with all Democrats supporting and all Republicans opposed. The authorization of subpoenas does not mean the committee will issue them but gives Democrats on the panel the option to do so. But while Attorney General Bill Barr says his team must first redact sensitive information, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., made clear Democrats want unfettered access to the documents. While a memo from Barr on the report said Mueller found no evidence of collusion with Russia, the AG also said the investigation did not reach a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice. That job requires us to evaluate the evidence for ourselves—not the attorney general’s summary, not a substantially redacted synopsis, but the full report and the underlying evidence." "This committee is better than this. Last week, Barr announced that the Justice Department and the special counsel were “well along in the process of identifying and redacting” sensitive material in the more than 300-page report and would likely have it to Congress by mid-April, “if not sooner.” But Democrats, upon the release of Barr's summary of the Mueller report, had set a deadline of April 2 for the full report to be released to Congress and to the public. Despite the demands from House Democrats, Barr has indicated he does plan on sharing much of the report itself, noting that, with the help of the special counsel’s office, the Justice Department is reviewing material that “by law cannot be made public” -- covering “material the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods; material that could affect ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other Department offices; and information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.” Barr added that: “Although the President would have the right to assert privilege over certain parts of the report, he has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for privilege review." Nadler and the Democrats said they are probing “alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump."

WCU political science expert weighs in on Mueller investigation

We spoke with the head of the political science department at Western Carolina University, Chris Cooper, about the latest on the Mueller investigation. For almost two years now, the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has been a constant presence in U.S. politics. "This is the most talked about issue in American politics right now," said Cooper. One of them being the possible political ramifications this report could have on the President or Robert Mueller. "We still don't know exactly what that's going to look like," said Cooper. We also asked Cooper if he thinks just the release of the report energizes the President's already loyal fan base. "Absolutely. His base is going to take this and say, 'hey, look the report's out. That means Donald Trump didn't do anything wrong," added Cooper. "Meadows has come out immediately and said, 'hey, look this shows there really was no fire at all.

Adam Schiff rejects reports that Mueller indictments are over, says special counsel could be...

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff rejected reports that no more Mueller indictments are coming, and suggested he would call the special counsel before a House panel if necessary to learn what is in the report. “If necessary, we will call Bob Mueller or others before our committee, I would imagine the judiciary committee may call the attorney general if necessary,” the California Democrat said during an interview on CNN. “At the end of the day, the department is under a statutory obligation to provide our committee with any information regarding significant intelligence activities, including counterintelligence. And it's hard to imagine anything more significant than what Bob Mueller has been investigating. “We have a right to be informed, and we will demand to be informed about it.” I think it’s entirely possible if not likely that there will be other indictments — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff Schiff was then asked if he would be satisfied if “the most sensitive information” obtained by Mueller was only shared with the so-called “gang of eight.” “No, it would not suffice. Schiff did not answer host Wolf Blitzer’s question as to whether or not any potential testimony would be public or behind closed doors. “Well, what it means is that the office of the special counsel, which is essentially a contract attorney to the Justice Department, that that office won’t be bringing any further indictments,” he said. “We are confident that there is no finding of collusion by the president and this underscores what the president has been saying from the beginning -- that he did nothing wrong.” Giuliani’s statement comes after Mueller transmitted his report to Attorney General William Barr. “This is a grand slam for President Trump. If Barr says he can brief Congress by this weekend, that means he has nothing,” said Joe diGenova, a former U.S. attorney who has advised Trump on the probe.