The tragic murder of 27 year-old Seth Rich, a DNC political operative, has become a case of international mystery and lure. It has spawned many conspiracy theories, linking the murder to Russians, WikiLeaks, the Clintons, the DNC, Obama, and a host of other odd scenarios. The murder case is different than the other over 60 unsolved murders in Washington DC in 2016. As such, the known facts and the alleged ties generate many legitimate questions. These questions need answers.
A Washington Post writer wrote an interesting story about the intrigue surrounding this case and the many ways this death became more than the just the obvious tragedy. Indeed, while the political conspiracy side of this story is over-told, the facts of the actual case are under-told. Heck, even the Post’s positioned its own story on the “style” page.
This is a murder case. Many hard questions persist.
Seth Rich’s death may well be a senseless murder resulting from a street crime in DC that links an unlucky victim of meaningless violence to an international political scandal. It may be more. It may be much more. At a minimum, even without the political intrigue, speculation, and down-right irresponsible myth making, the case is, all by itself, a complete oddity in unsolved cases for that year.
Of the more than 60 departed souls on this DC police page whose 2016 murders are unsolved by the police, Mr. Rich is truly a minority. He is the only non-minority death. There is a large reward for information leading to the arrest of his killer or killers. Oh, and he is the only person on the list who worked for the DNC and who died a month after the huge story of a DNC hack and loss of DNC data. Indeed, he was killed 12 days before Wiki-leaks released the DNC hacked e-mails, the validity of which neither the DNC, FBI, nor US intel have ever questioned.
He is also now the only person on that list who was the subject of recently leaked message screenshots where he is discussed by name in August of 2016 by an actress and a known internet personality tied to hacking. For the Rich story to be just another senseless, meaningless, wrong place at the wrong time murder, the number of truly staggering crime scene facts, the odd, unexplained, pre-crime activities, and all of the political connections would have to constitute the greatest set of coincidences the world has ever known.
Not a single known fact supports Seth Rich being killed in a robbery or meaningless murder … not one.
Let’s walk through them:
- Rich left a bar nearly 3 hours before he was murdered, and he roamed the streets of DC from 1:20 am until his murder. His walk should have taken 40 minutes.
- He tried to call his father, who lived out of state, twice during that time. How many 27-year-old men call their dad after drinking at 1:30 in the morning, unless something weighs heavy on their mind or they are in trouble?
- He called his girlfriend, twice, and spoke to her for 89 and 43 minutes, respectively. What did they talk about?
- He was beaten. Then, he was shot twice in the back. Nothing was taken. There was no robbery.
- Before dying, he spoke to first-responders and police. Have they no description? They have released no information on this investigation, which means many things.
- Give the remarkable size of the reward money, why hasn’t someone come forward if this was just a street crime?
- The family reports that the murder that a grocery camera may have spotted the killer or killers. What does that tell us?
- Rich was reportedly weighing the opportunity to work for the Clinton campaign in New York after the DNC hack scandal? What was he going to do, and why did they hire him?
- What access did Mr. Rich have to DNC servers, and what computer forensic analysis was done of his computers, phones, and PDA’s? Who did it?
- Did the FBI investigate this case, and if so, why? If not, why?
- Likewise, and fairly, if this were a professional hit, why the “beating” first? Why not shoot him down and walk away?
- If it were a pro hit, why not stage it to look like a robbery? Would a true house painter do that?
Sometimes the easiest answer is the simplest. Two robbery suspects confronted Mr. Rich, and he fought like hell. Maybe they were pissed about him fighting back and they put two shots in him after he was down. Maybe, just maybe, the two shots resulted in someone opening a window, turning on a light, or making a noise … and the robbers got spooked before they could take all the valuables they left behind. Rich lost nothing, which means these “robbers” took the time to beat him and shoot him, but not to take his wallet, watch, or another valuable keepsake on him.
The other “facts” we know really are not facts. Here is the screen shot of a purported text message exchange between Gucciffer 2.0 and actress Robin Young. One person is real. The other “person” is an anonymous hacker who some have claimed is a Russian spy. The truth is, we don’t know who or how many people run that account, and for what purpose. Likewise, without forensics and some witness co-operation, we can’t even authenticate this screen shot. However, how do we ignore it?
We also know that Julian Assange has claimed from the very first day that none of his information from the DNC hack came from Russian hackers. Is he a credible source? He is quite literally hiding from international governments in an embassy. Wild rumors spread last year that Mrs. Clinton wanted to use a drone strike to take him out. That, of course, is all part of the wild, unsubstantiated, speculation that links so many players to this mysterious death.
The Metro police have many valid, investigative reasons not to share case details with the public. In fact, because the case is high profile, subject to speculation, and intertwined in political intrigue, the police are right to be particularly tight with sharing non-essential information. At some point, they will want to use non-public information to corroborate a tip or enhance or clarify the statement of suspects or witnesses. Whatever interest the curious among us have in this case, that interest, fairly, doesn’t exceed the sworn duty of the police to do whatever they can to solve the murder.
One wonders, however, why the police can’t release more information that might answer some questions and reduce some speculation.
I wrote the above paragraphs of this op-ed in early April, when news of the Guccifer purported screen-shots broke.
I don’t like to wear hats … and tin-foil hats particularly don’t look good on anyone, let alone a person trying to be credible and honest.
The truth is, there are more troubling, unanswered, questions and sketchy links between the Seth Rich murder and the DNC hack than there are legitimate ties showing collusion between the President and the Russians. In fact, two US Senators confirmed that the President himself was not under investigation by the FBI, yet that canard still rules the day.
That begs another question: Was the latest Seth Rich story, a purported “bombshell,” just a Trump organized diversion because of the story that the President gave classified information to the Russians? Or, was that mainstream media story attacking Trump a carefully timed diversion meant to deflect from the Seth Rich story? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Yesterday, more news broke on the Seth Rich case. The media is pushing it down and trying to squash it. O twitter, the #Sethrich has been trending for nearly 16 hours. Seth Rich truthers and conspiracy buffs are humping the story, which broke from a legitimate report done by a local FOX5 affiliate in DC. That story has the family’s private investigator stating that Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks before his death, and that someone gave a stand-down order on this investigation. That’s news worthy … if true. It’s a travesty, if false.
I don’t know anything about former DC Homicide Detective Rod Wheeler. However, he runs his own private investigative firm, and he says that there is both a cover-up on this case, and that Seth Rich and WikiLeaks did communicate just prior to his death.
Wheeler might be nuts. He could be a grandstander. The family has already come out and said they have hard evidence of his reported ‘facts” and sources. However, he is THE Family’s private detective. He is not a third-party interloper. He is their guy.
Does Wheeler have sources at the FBI and in DC Metro Police? He was a DC homicide detective, and those individuals are at the top of the food chain in law enforcement.
We can never lose sight, responsibly, that the Seth Rich case is about the murder of an innocent, educated, young man. We may never know the who and why, but the case sticks out for all the reasons and questions posed here and elsewhere. Is this just a piling on for political purposes? It’s not meant to be. Coincidences happen. In the world of politics, disreputable people use any fact they can to advance an agenda. The worse the fact, the more likely unscrupulous people will use and manipulate it.
The questions here are real.
Nothing in this story detracts from the obligation and mandate that our government look at and investigate Russian influence peddling and possible interference in our election. I support that strongly. In fact, I even supported the call for a special prosecutor to look at all of the issues.
Our government, however, can do that while it likewise properly investigates this case and answers the many strange questions and coincidences. In fact, if Mr. Rich was just the victim of senseless street violence, and his life and occupation have been twisted and distorted wrongly, that is all the more reason to clear up the shadows and to drive to ground those using his death improperly.
If, however, his death is linked to this uniquely strange election, and the DNC hack, therein lays the greatest story in American political history. As Americans work daily to rip the republic apart over an election, seeking to find poof of a grand Trump conspiracy, this death might be the lynchpin to an entirely different, more sinister, conspiracy.
I remain curious about how and why the war on Trump started so soon, and has been so organized and unrelenting.
Hillary Clinton once purportedly said, speaking of Mr. Trump, “If that f$cking bastard wins, we all hang from nooses.” Like everything else in this country, whether Mrs. Clinton really said that is a fact in hot dispute. Though her famous temper is consistent with such a tirade, no one can source this quote to a name. Fact-checkers call it false.
Did she say that? The best evidence might be in her conduct since the election. I keep coming back to one question about that famous tantrum that we are assured never happened. Why would anybody hang from nooses for losing a US Presidential election? I sometimes look at the organized war on Trump since his election, orchestrated by the Clinton team and I wonder, why did this happen? How many resources would anyone put to destroying a nation and a Presidency just because of a lost election? Why did Clinton’s team create this false Russian narrative just 24 hours after Mrs. Clinton lost, according to a new book by a democrat insider?
The war on Trump may be the greatest circumstantial evidence that the effort to destroy Trump, by any means, as quickly as possible, is an effort to hide other people’s conduct from the public. To be sure, for some anti-Trumpers on the left and right, they just hate Trump. But it is the organized war and resistance, including those behind it and financing it that give rise to real question behind its purpose.
Behind all the faux political outrage, however, is a story of either political scandal for Trump or a high stakes effort to bring down a President by the left. Does the death of Seth Rich play any role in all this? We won’t know until the US government puts its full weight into resolving all the issues around his death.
With more than 60 unsolved homicide in DC in 2016 … only one has implications that are global. Or, does it?
UPDATE — 5-16-2017:
Explosive reporting by Foxnews includes additional alleged information tying Seth Rich to WikiLeaks. Highlights include:
1. A Federal investigator telling Foxnews that he saw the an FBI forensic report done on Rich’s computer 96 hours after his death.
2. Rich had contacts via e-mail with a WikiLeaks agent.
3. The federal investigator, who requested anonymity, said 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments between Democratic National Committee leaders, spanning from January 2015 through late May 2016, were transferred from Rich to MacFadyen before May 21.
The rewards for information leading to the arrest of his killers include 25K from the DC police, 20K from WikiLeaks, and 130K from Republican Lobbyist and Radio personality, Jack Burkman. (Burkman is the host of “Behind the Curtain,” a program on which I appeared repeatedly.)
UPDATE — 5-19-2017
This tragic death continues to spin more tomfoolery around it. That includes questions about this article. The article raises questions on information and conspiracies, and it rightly poses questions about both the known facts and the alleged conspiracies. I maintain the same view of healthy skepticism about this case as before, and the steadfast belief that the case needs more resources to solve it if only to stop it from spinning more conspiracy theories.
However, when a man doing an investigation gives an interview alleging new information, and when a major cable network provides even more additional information, it is going to be analyzed and questioned. Period.
For those who think I believe Mr. Rich was killed by any candidate, party, political operation or government, you didn’t read this closely enough. Sure, I look at some of the issues … seeking motive ….asking questions … connecting dots. Asking questions is how we solve problems.
Since our last update, the man whose credibility I questioned, the DC Homicide detective on camera on this case has backtracked. What does that mean? It means he likely is not credible, is a grand-stander, and can’t be believed. That helps.
In addition, more than one media source, including NBC news and NPR have called into question the reporting an anonymous source used by FOX that claims a WiKiLeak connection.
Moreover, a right-wing reported who has had direct contact with Guccifer, and who is often associated with far right wing publications, has produced a live video saying the conspiracy theories implicating WikiLeaks and Guccifer don’t add up, and are completely inconsistent with his interactions with Guccifer.
What it all means is Seth Rich still remains an unsolved death, and while that continues, conspiracy theories will abound. The vast number of questions in this piece still remain valid and unanswered.
Foxnews has officially retracted its story, which was the subject of the first update after this opinion piece was originally posted. To be sure, the FOXNEWS piece contained the most explosive allegations from a credible source linking the death to a conspiracy theory. Again, however, anonymous sources are of limited value, particularly in tin-foil hat style conspiracies.
One of the principle reasons for drafting this serious of questions was to draw out all of the issues being reported, and to call for the FBI to put an end to this case by putting more resources on it. Some critics of this piece and me have accused me of peddling in “garbage.” Quite the contrary, this piece asks questions and ridicules many of the conspiracies. Mostly, it screams out to solve this case to stop the conspiracies.
This is an unsolved, high profile murder. There are legitimate questions, and they need to be asked. Likewise, when investigators and multi-billion dollar media outlets up the ante on reporting, they lend to the examination more questions.
The case makes many people uncomfortable, and it should. That is not a reason to stop asking questions.
Finally, a twitter verified conspiracy theorist with a very sketchy background has on this day, re-asserted his personal knowledge of a Seth Rich and WikiLeaks connection. He has provided no evidence, and his statement only muddies the water by intentionally intimating that he has tangible evidence. He is not resident in the United States.
The murder remains unsolved.
The full court press is on to not merely stop the conspiracy theories, but to destroy those who even mention Seth Rich. Indeed, some very fine thinkers and writers such as David French take in the conspiracy theorists. French is a conservative, a lawyer, and a very credible writer. He also despises Trump and has little use for Mr. Hannity, who is by any definition a stone cold, Trump kool-aid manufacturer. Hannity’s role in promoting the Seth Rich conspiracies makes him an easy target.
Mr. French asks some great questions, and they are fair. Add them to my own. His piece, however, is focused solely on ripping conspiracy theorists and ripping Hannity. Like most of the pieces written since Wheeler backtracked and Fox News retracted, the heart of the stories are about Fox, Wheeler, and Hannity. French, to his credit, discusses all the things one must believe to think the DNC and Clinton were involved in the murder. Great writing, and wonderfully drafted questions that narrowly help a reader reach the wanted conclusion that any conspiracy theory is not just wrong, but absurd.
I write above … way above … that the easiest explanation is usually correct. Still, French doesn’t answer the many interesting questions about the case, and even he frames the DNC conspiracy both intentionally narrowly, and decidedly in a way to mislead. For example, the FBI claims it has nothing to do with this case, and it never has. Yet, French sets up the absurdity by asking us to believe the FBI is in on it. If we believe they are not in on it, then they are not part of the conspiracy. Thus, it’s not as absurd as he promotes.
Put more simply, what if it is just a local police investigation following nothing more than the assumption it is a botched robbery? In that circumstance, nobody is in on the conspiracy. Moreover, what if the DNC didn’t have anything to do with Rich’s murder …. zero? What if the Russians hacked the DNC servers … which Hillary says 17 intel agencies, one being the Coast Guard, agree upon. What if they killed Seth Rich to create this entire controversy? I have zero proof of that, and I don’t offer it as a theory … I merely offer it to say French’s repudiation doesn’t repudiate every theory.
Mr. French is correct, however, in saying that we must deal in evidence, and right now we have nothing, which is why the murder is unsolved.
I just spent two hours reading about the retractions. Here’s an interesting question, why don’t any of the articles outlining the case address the Fox news “federal investigator?” Who is it? Fox news retracted its story, but it did not repudiate the unnamed source, nor do we yet know who that source purports to be.
Obviously, a retraction means the news agency no longer has confidence in the accuracy of the story. Why?
I think Fox news owes all of us much more about its Federal Investigator source. Indeed, while we all rush to hang Hannity out to dry, and we all agree this story fell apart fast, and those pushing it are getting pummeled. The whole story’s collapse begs more questions. Isn’t odd that a local news channel puts a man on air … the link is right above … saying the things he says … and then he recants. In addition, the biggest rated cable News Network runs a piece, and that piece quotes an entirely different source … identified as a federal investigator … who make even more explosive claims, and then that story too gets shot down.
Usually, when a news story crumbles, it does so when a single, unreliable source is exposed. In this instance, two different stations, using two different sources, were forced to recant. All of this adds to the mystery.
With these recantations, likewise, no one seems to be asking … who the hell is the “Federal investigator” in Fox News’s story. I’d sure like to know. The official statement of the FBI repudiates the unnamed source, which may be why Fox dropped the story. Then again, DNI Clapper once lied, under oath, to the Congress. So, what’s an FBI statement worth? It’s official, and it trumps an unnamed source … EVERY time … but it is not gospel. Trust, but verify.
Finally, an OAN story on the Seth Rich case, which came out after the Fox piece and before the Wheeler retraction, raises yet more interesting facts. First, kudos to OAN for offering to add $100,000 to the reward pot to solve this death. Second, OAN then points out that the DNC has offered nothing to solve the case. Certainly the DNC has no legal or even moral obligation to offer a reward in the case, but Mr. Rich was one of their own, and in fact, was purportedly offered a job with Hillary Clinton, as the embedded reporting in my original piece discusses.
The DNC raised 344.6 million dollars to elect Hillary Clinton. They even worked to rig her primary election, by any fair appraisal. In fact, in total, Hillary, the DNC, and her super-pacs raised 1.2 billion to elect her.
The DNC has offered nothing as a reward for the murder of Mr. Rich, who OAN reports was scheduled to give testimony in the Clinton e-mail scandal, before his death.
That fact may not give rise to evidence of any conspiracy … but it sure looks like an organization without any interest in the tragic death of one of its loyal foot-soldiers.
If Mr. French is right, and my best guess is right there with him, this is most likely a terrible street crime. However, let’s not kid ourselves, his op-ed doesn’t solve the case, it doesn’t eliminate any suspects, and it wasn’t calculated to do that.
It fairly reminds us all that in the absence of evidence, speculation will run wild, and people will believe what they want. Ironically, Mr. Trump gets that too.
The central question here remains, why won’t the FBI step up and offer assistance to the DC police on this high profile crime. Oh, and FOX, we want to know the name of your source. Retraction isn’t good enough. If the source is a liar, you owe it no loyalty.
Update 8-8-17: For all the reasons I have written, this is a story that won’t quit. In fact, looking at the developments and conduct of parties since I first wrote this is fascinating. I ask the question about Wheeler’s credibility, and since then he has tried to make himself look even more crazy.
Wheeler, a source in the break story is now suing Foxnews, for among other things, misquoting him. Indeed, the story above also says the Foxnews story was promoted by a Trump supporter, and that Trump had knowledge of it. Can this tragic murder get more politically manipulated? You bet.
As readers know … and this piece details … I have been hot on the non-Wheeler source. I even wrote a piece demanding that Foxnews save itself and journalism by outing the source, if it was not credible. That story even outperforms this one.
Still, earlier this week new “news” broke about this case, alleging that DNC operatives including Donna Brazil and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz were “snooping” around looking for information on this case from Wheeler. The source of this news is investigative reporter and political commentator Cassandra Fairbanks.
In fact, Ms. Fairbanks has a tiger by the tail. Her latest piece seeks to prove that Wheeler’s recantation is false, and that he was not misquoted. It further opines that the reporting done by Foxnews reporter Malia Zimmerman was strong, correct, and accurate. Fairbanks is after Foxnews for not doing it’s job. The Fairbanks piece is filled with links and source materials for your own independent determination.
I tweeted back my continuing focus on the Foxnews “Federal Investigator” source. She wrote back as follows.
Not that I can share. Her source was confirmed by other sources of mine as being very legitimate, though. https://t.co/dC9u9wEM7V
— Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) August 8, 2017
I don’t swear for or against the reporting she has done, but with both an open mind and healthy skepticism I follow her on this subject. If nothing else, she is fearlessly doing the work that many mainstream outlets refuse to do.
If you are a twitter user, Ms. Fairbanks is worth the follow for a strong, independent, and unique perspective on issues. As always, committed conservatives thrive on multiple, different sources, and we cautiously evaluate issues based on verifiable facts.
Today, we are still no closer to understanding who killed Seth Rich, and who this purported Fox source is. The new reporting done by Fairbanks certainly calls into question the credibility of Wheeler and Foxnews. Likewise, she places her own credibility on the line by seeming to vouch for the existence and veracity of the anonymous “federal investigator.”
I don’t and can’t draw any conclusions on this case. However, it will continue to spin yarns until this strangely unsolved, high profile murder is really solved.
Author: Richard Kelsey
Richard Kelsey is the Editor-in-Chief of Committed Conservative.
He is a trial Attorney and author of the new book on higher education, “Of Serfs and Lords: Why College Tuition is Creating a Debtor Class”
Rich is a former Assistant Law School Dean and Law Professor. At Mason Law Kelsey conceived of, planned, and brought to fruition Mason’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, known as CPIP, drawing on his expertise as a former CEO of a technology company specializing in combating cyber-fraud.
Before returning to private practice, Rich taught legal writing and analysis and an advanced litigation seminar. In 2014 he was elected by the graduating class as the faculty speaker at their graduation.
He is a regular commentator on legal and political issues in print, radio and on TV. Rich has appeared on hundreds of stations as a legal expert or political commentator. He provided the legal analysis for all stages of the Bob McDonnell trial and appeal for numerous outlets including NPR and WMAL.
Rich also writes on occasion for the American Spectator and CNSNews.com.
In his free time, Rich is part of the baseball mafia of Northern Virginia, serving on numerous boards and as a little league and travel baseball coach.
His Twitter handle is @richkelsey.