A new lawsuit accuses President Donald Trump of knowingly and actively colluding with Fox News to push false news about the murder of a Democratic National Committee staffer.
Rod Wheeler, a contributor for the network and former homicide cop, filed the suit, alleging high-profile Trump supporter Ed Butowsky and Fox News tried to use the story about Seth Rich to deflect focus from the investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election and whether Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign.
Wheeler has accused Fox reporter Malia Zimmerman of using two fake quotes from him to establish that Rich may have contacted WikiLeaks on sharing Democratic Party emails in 2016.
The suit even claims the news channel confirmed the fake story with Trump before publishing it.
“The motivation . . .(was to) establish that Seth Rich provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails to shift the blame from Russia and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome (of the election),” the court papers allege.
While the White House denies the accusations, Wheeler has provided text messages and voice mails to support his claims. The evidence also includes a purported May 14 message from Butowsky to Wheeler that read, “The President just read the article. He wants the article out immediately.”
Fox News issued a public statement in response to Wheeler’s lawsuit:
“The accusation that FoxNews.com published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous. The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman. Additionally, Fox News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit — the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race.”
Rich was killed on July 10, 2016, in a shooting incident that Washington, D.C., police suspect was a robbery gone wrong.