Former Washington, D.C. homicide detective Rod Wheeler filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Fox News, journalist Malia Zimmerman, and Trump supporter Ed Butowsky, claiming that they worked together to create a false narrative surrounding the murder of DNC employee Seth Rich.
In the complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York, President Donald Trump is being accused of contributing to the purposeful spreading of false information about the young man’s actual cause of death.
Wheeler is a detective who investigated Rich’s murder and made several appearances on Fox News to discuss the case. Court documents say that Trump wanted the story to include multiple fake quotes which were attributed to Wheeler.
Butowsky is a Texas wealth manager and Trump supporter who Wheeler includes in his filing because he wrote a text message which discusses the president’s eagerness to see the story published.
‘Not to add any more pressure but the president says just read the article. He wants the article out immediately. It’s now all up to you. But don’t feel the pressure,” Butowsky texted to Wheeler, according to court documents.
‘The motivation behind the article: 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 Presidential election,” according to the lawsuit.
Wheeler is seeking a jury trial and claims that just before Butowsky texted Wheeler, he left him a voice message, saying, “A couple minutes ago, I got a note that we have the full, uh, attention of the White House, on this. And, tomorrow, let’s close this deal, whatever we’ve got to do. But you can feel free to say that the White House is onto this now.”
In response, Zimmerman then made the decision to add in two quotes which she attributed to Wheeler, despite his claim that he never made the comments, according to court documents.
“My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” reads one of the quotes.
The second quote that Wheeler said was falsely attributed to him says, “My investigation shows someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the murder investigation from going forward. That is unfortunate. Seth Rich’s murder is unsolved as a result of that.”
Because of those quotes, Wheeler is claiming that he “has suffered irreparable damage to his reputation, and his career will likely never recover,” because he has lost all credibility with the public.
“According to Butowsky, the statements were falsely attributed to Mr. Wheeler because that is the way the President wanted the article,” reads the lawsuit. “Zimmerman, Butowsky and Fox had created fake news to advance President Trump’s agenda.”
Wheeler states that he was hired by Butowsky and Zimmerman, an investigative journalist with Fox News, to look into the murder as a private investigator back in February.
The narrative of the story they hoped to write would reveal that Rich handed over the DNC emails to WikiLeaks and that a member of the DNC murdered him in retaliation. However, Wheeler did not find support for the claims, so they were made up, according to his lawsuit.
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