FBI doubles down on Seth Rich cover-up

When you get caught with your pants down, just deny the obvious. That appears to be the strategy of the FBI, according to a letter I received from this afternoon from the Justice Department.

The letter from Asst. U.S. Attorney Kathleen Mahoney maintains — despite clear documentary proof to the contrary — that the FBI conducted a “reasonable search” for records about Seth Rich, the murdered Democratic National Committee employee who (rather than Russian hackers) is alleged to have leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks.

Since your humble correspondent still works a day job (with lots of deadlines), I’ll let you read the letter addressed to Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom and analyze it for yourself. Just click here for the letter, and click here for the exhibits to the letter.

Incidentally, I asked Judicial Watch to provide a declaration authenticating that it received the emails cited above in response to a FOIA request to the FBI, and Judicial Watch refused. What is that about? I needed the declaration so I could submit the emails as evidence in court (although Ms. Mahoney’s letter obviates that need).

In my experience, Judicial Watch likes to hog the spotlight (specifically the Fox News studio cameras) and often does not play well with others. That’s unfortunate, because those of us seeking the truth should be working together. And it’s not like I’m a threat to JW’s multi-million dollar fundraising operation.

We now have unequivocal proof that the FBI is hiding records about Seth Rich

The FBI is hiding documents about murdered Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich, according to emails released last week, so this morning I requested a criminal investigation into the cover-up.

As most people outside of solitary confinement know, the whole “Russian collusion” investigation began with the premise that Russia hacked the DNC, but considerable evidence suggests that the DNC emails were downloaded by someone inside the DNC — liike Mr. Rich — and then provided to Wikileaks.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, I’ve copied and pasted my letter to U.S. Attorney John Durham, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, and Inspector General Michael Horowitz:

Mr. Durham, Mr. Donoghue and Mr. Horowitz:

I wish to file a criminal complaint regarding false statements made by FBI Section Chief David M. Hardy in two affidavits [click here and here] filed in the FOIA case identified above [i.e., Ty Clevenger v. U.S. Department of Justice, et al., Civil Action No. 18-CV-01568]. I requested FBI records pertaining to Seth Rich, who allegedly was the source of Democratic National Committee emails published by Wikileaks in 2016 (rather than Russian hackers). In the affidavits (attached to the email version of this letter), Mr. Hardy testified that his office conducted a reasonable search, and it found no responsive records.

New evidence proves otherwise, and it appears that Mr. Hardy has perpetrated a fraud on the court. Judicial Watch recently published documents that it obtained in response to a FOIA request for communications between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page (https://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/JW-v-DOJ-Strzok-Page-Prod-16-00154.pdf), and I would direct your attention to pages 123-125. In those pages, you will find a heavily-redacted email discussion regarding Mr. Rich.  Note that the header on those emails is “Seth Rich.”

I defy Mr. Hardy to provide an innocent explanation for his office’s failure to produce these emails, and I suspect the misconduct reaches far beyond my specific FOIA request. Several facts are worth noting:

* Mr. Hardy touts the reasonableness of relying on the FBI’s Central Records System (“CRS”), but note that CRS does not search the FBI email system. That sort of half-baked, designed-to-fail search methodology would never be tolerated in litigation among private parties, yet it appears to be standard operating procedure at the FBI. And note that when I asked the FBI to search its email systems, it arbitrarily refused.

* Mr. Hardy’s staff purportedly searched for “Seth Conrad Rich” but failed to search for “Seth Rich,” another tactic designed to exclude responsive records.

* According to Mr. Hardy’s affidavit, the only records indexed by CRS are those that are manually designated by FBI personnel. Undoubtedly, FBI personnel know that they can immunize their email communications from FOIA requests simply by omitting the subject matter from the CRS, because Mr. Hardy will subsequently declare (1) that a CRS search is sufficient and (2) there is no need to conduct an email search.

I have previously written to Mr. Durham regarding evidence that the FBI was hiding information about Mr. Rich, and I have attached a December 13, 2019 order issued in Butowsky v. Folkenflik, Case No. 4:18-cv-00442-ALM-CMC (E.D. Tex.). Please see pages 23-29 in particular. Finally, I have attached an October 8, 2019 reply in the FOIA case, and it notes a previous occasion wherein Mr. Hardy provided inaccurate information to a court.

It appears that FBI personnel are deliberately hiding records about Seth Rich and deliberately deceiving the court about the reasonableness of their searches for those records. Worse, this sort of bad-faith non-compliance appears to be the norm.

I request that your respective offices investigate to determine whether responsive information has been withheld intentionally, and whether Mr. Hardy knowingly submitted false affidavits to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Thank you for your consideration.

/s/ Ty Clevenger

Bank on it: the FBI is hiding records about Seth Rich

For two years, I’ve blogged about allegations that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich — not the Russians — was responsible for providing embarrassing DNC emails to Wikileaks. I think we’re finally getting close to the end zone.

Last week, I provided the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn with clear evidence that FBI officials were hiding records about Mr. Rich, who was murdered in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2016. Two days after I filed the motion, Judge Lois Bloom ordered the FBI to respond. The FBI filed a response this afternoon, and it only makes the government look worse.

Before I get to that, let me provide a little background. In my original motion filed on October 8, 2019, I included a transcript from Michael Isikoff’s interview of Deborah Sines, the former federal prosecutor assigned to the Rich case. According to Mr. Isikoff and Ms. Hines, the FBI did investigate Mr. Rich’s computer after his death.

That’s huge, because in response to my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the FBI has maintained all along that it conducted a “reasonable” search for records about Mr. Rich and it found nothing. The FBI has also maintained that it was never involved in the investigation of Mr. Rich’s death.

The latter part may be technically true, but I didn’t ask for records about a murder investigation. I asked for all records about Seth Rich, which would include all FBI investigations pertaining to Mr. Rich, e.g., records indicating whether he was the source of Democratic National Committee emails published by Wikileaks. [continued on p.2]

Correction: Ellen Ratner only relayed information about Seth Rich, according to Butowsky

Several readers identified a contradiction between a lawsuit that I drafted on behalf of Ed Butowsky versus what he said in an interview. The mistake is mine

Ellen Ratner only relayed information from Julian Assange about Seth Rich, but she said nothing about his brother, Aaron, according to Mr. Butowsky. Paragraph 45 of the First Amended Complaint in Edward Butowsy v. Michael Gottlieb, et al. mistakenly says she relayed information about both.

Mr. Butowsky said he knew nothing about Aaron’s alleged involvement until he had a phone conversation with Joel Rich, father of Seth and Aaron.

Wikileaks supporters pointed out that the error could lead readers to believe that Julian Assange had identified a living source, as opposed to one who had been murdered. To date, neither Wikileaks nor Mr. Assange have identified any of their living sources without permission from those sources.

That’s why we asked Aaron Rich more than a year ago to authorize Wikileaks to reveal whether he was involved in leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee. Thus far, he and his lawyers have refused to do so.

Transcript suggests Obama White House pressured intelligence agencies to blame Russia

Newly released documents from the FBI suggest that the Obama White House pushed intelligence agencies to publicly blame the Russians for email leaks from the Democratic National Committee to Wikileaks.

This afternoon I received an undated (and heavily redacted) transcript of an interview of James Rybicki, former chief of staff to former FBI Director James Comey, that includes this excerpt: “So we understand that at some point in October of 2016, there was, I guess, a desire by the White House to make some kind of statement about Russia’s…” and then the next page is omitted.

The comment is made by an unidentified prosecutor from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel or “OSC,” not to be confused with the office of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller (the OSC is a permanent office that investigates Hatch Act violations, and Mr. Comey was under investigation for trying to influence the 2016 Presidential election).

The context of the statement makes it all the more interesting, because the OSC prosecutors were noting that the FBI publicized its reactivation of the Clinton email investigation shortly before the 2016 election, and they were wondering why the FBI did not counterbalance that by publicizing the “Russian collusion” investigation into Donald Trump. In that setting, one of the prosecutors then commented that the White House wanted some kind of statement made about Russia. [Continued on page 2].

DNC and CrowdStrike refuse to provide records about alleged Russian email hack

Last night, attorneys for the Democratic National Committee and CrowdStrike formally objected to subpoenas from Ed Butowsky, refusing to provide any records about whether DNC emails were leaked internally or hacked by Russians. The FBI also missed a deadline yesterday for providing records about Seth Rich.

Surprise, surprise. Three years after the purported Russian attack on DNC servers, and nobody outside the DNC or its contractors has seen those servers. Why not?

Frankly, I expected the DNC and CrowdStrike to balk, and I’ll be filing motions to compel in the next few weeks.

You will recall that Roger Stone forced federal prosecutors to admit in late May that neither the FBI nor Special Counsel Robert Mueller had investigated the DNC servers that allegedly were hacked by Russians. Instead, Mueller and the FBI relied exclusively on a redacted report from CrowdStrike.

To my knowledge, the U.S. Department of Justice had never before handed off a computer crime investigation to a third-party contractor hired by the alleged victim. Instead, the FBI (or some other law enforcement agency) had always investigated those crimes. Obviously, the DNC doesn’t want any independent investigation of its claims that Russian hackers — as opposed to a DNC employee like Seth Rich — were responsible for transferring DNC emails to Wikileaks.

Here’s another subject to ponder. More than a year ago, the DNC filed a kamakaze lawsuit alleging that the Trump campaign and the Russian government had conspired to hack its servers, apparently in hopes that the lawsuit would keep the Russian collusion hoax alive through the 2018 elections. At the time, President Trump welcomed the lawsuit, saying it would finally allow for an independent inspection of the DNC’s servers.

Why hasn’t that happened yet? The Trump campaign and some of the other defendants are represented by major law firms (as you would expect), and those firms have dutifully filed motions to dismiss, but it seems that none of those firms have demanded discovery, e.g., an opportunity to inspect the servers. Why not? And why didn’t some of the Congressional committee chairmen subpoena the servers when the House was under GOP control? Why isn’t Sen. Lindsey Graham doing it now?

I’ve long observed that Republican lawyers (and Republicans generally) tend to be very cautious and even a little passive, whereas their Democratic counterparts tend to be hyper-aggressive. Maybe some of the defendants in DNC v. Russian Federation need to light a fire under their lawyers. If somebody had demanded access to the DNC servers back in 2018, the Russian collusion hoax might have collapsed a lot earlier, and Nancy Pelosi might not be Speaker of the House.

———————

You can read the DNC’s and Crowdstrike’s objections to the Butowsky v. Folkenflik subpoenas by clicking here and here. You can read their objections to the Butowsky v. Gottlieb subpoenas by clicking here and here.

Lawsuit outs Ellen Ratner as source for Seth Rich information

Former Fox News news analyst Ellen Ratner relayed information from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to Texas businessman Ed Butowsky regarding Seth Rich’s role in transferring emails to Wikileaks, according to an amended lawsuit that I filed this morning on behalf of Mr. Butowsky.

Although Ms. Ratner previously worked for Fox News, she is by no means a Republican or a conservative, and her role in the Seth Rich saga (like that of journalist Sy Hersh) obliterates the Democratic narrative that right-wing zealots fabricated the story about Mr. Rich leaking emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Rich, a DNC employee, was murdered in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2016, and the murder remains unsolved. Here’s an excerpt from the amended suit (“RCH” stands for “Russian Collusion Hoax”):

[continued on p. 2]

Trooper was working the day of Horaney murder, but alibi is not conclusive

State Trooper Tyson Metzig, whose ex-wife suggested he may have been involved in the murder of Longview, Texas businessman Ron Horaney, was working near Jacksonville on the day that Mr. Horaney was murdered, according to records released yesterday evening by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The records — which you can read for yourself by clicking here — do not provide a conclusive alibi. Mr. Metzig stopped a driver around 4 p.m. and subsequently arrested him for felony DWI, according to the arrest report. Mr. Horaney was shot to death around 7 p.m.

In a cover letter, DPS wrote that it had no responsive records other than the ones that I uploaded, and that seems somewhat strange. Here’s exactly what I requested:

(1)  All of Trooper Metzig’s email communications (sent or received) on the dates listed above [i.e., May 29-31, 2016].

(2)  All of Trooper Metzig’s text messages (sent or received) on the dates listed above.

(3)  Records of all outgoing or incoming phone calls on the dates listed above.

(4)  Payroll or other records indicating what time shifts (if any) Trooper Metzig worked on the dates listed above.

(5)  Any incident or arrest reports submitted by Trooper Metzig on the dates above.

Here’s the explanation from DPS:

With respect to Items #1-4 of your request, the Department has conducted a good faith search for any and all information related to your request and has not been able to locate any responsive records. This may be due to the Department’s records retention policy, which mandates the destruction of Department records in accordance with our state-approved retention schedule. See Gov’t Code § 441.187. Accordingly, even if the Department generated the requested record, we no longer maintain a copy. Please note that records indicating the time shifts of a commissioned officer are also protected from disclosure by section 411.00755 of the Government Code which limits the information that can be released from the personnel record of a commissioned officer of the Department of Public Safety.

As I reported on Wednesday, federal authorities are now reviewing the case.

I’ve been asked what happened to the comment section on my blog, and I wish I had a good answer. For some reason unknown to me, the current version of WordPress deletes the comment section after 24 hours. To work around that, I’ll post this article on the LawFlog Facebook page, and you can post your comments (or tips) there.

Update on Horaney murder investigation

I’ve never deleted a blog post before, but this evening I removed my July 8, 2019 blog post about the 2016 murder of Ron Horaney in Gregg County, Texas. Here’s why.

First, I confirmed that federal authorities are looking into the murder, and I’m quite content to let them do their thing. As I’ve previously reported, one of the Texas Rangers investigating the murder was caught having an affair with Mr. Horaney’s widow. Former Ranger Brent Davis claimed the affair did not start until after the murder, but the Texas Department of Public Safety essentially allowed Mr. Davis to exonerate himself.

To say the least, Mr. Davis has some credibility problems. In his statements to DPS’s internal investigators, he said Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano told him that the affair would not prevent the sheriff from seeking Mr. Davis’s assistance in the future. When that statement became public, the sheriff sharply disputed it. That alone should have prompted much closer scrutiny of Mr. Davis’s story, and let’s hope the feds give him the scrutiny that he so richly deserves.

That takes me to the second reason for deleting the July 8, 2019 post: I want to get more information about Trooper Tyson Metzig. At present, I am not expressing an opinion one way or another about the information that was provided to me, but of course that may change as I get more information. If I got something wrong, then I will take my lumps in public.

For now, I am grateful that the feds are involved, and I hope they can provide closure for the Horaney family and everyone else involved.

Subpoenas issued for FBI, Crowdstrike, and DNC records on “Russian hacking” and Seth Rich

This afternoon I issued subpoenas to the FBI, CrowdStrike, and the Democratic National Committee for their records on murdered DNC employee Seth Rich. The subpoenas further demand all evidence that Russian hackers were responsible for obtaining DNC emails in 2016 that were later published by Wikileaks.

Two weeks ago, attorneys representing Roger Stone forced prosecutors to admit that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Obama-era intelligence officials never examined the DNC servers that purportedly were hacked by the Russians. Instead, Mueller and Obama officials relied on redacted draft reports prepared by CrowdStrike, Inc., a private company hired by the law firm Perkins Coie, the same law firm that hired Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele.

Hopefully, we will soon know why the DNC did not want the FBI (or anyone else) looking at those servers. Maybe because the DNC knew that one of its own employees leaked the emails?

You can read the FBI subpoena by clicking here, the CrowdStrike subpoena by clicking here, and the DNC subpoena by clicking here. The case is Edward Butowsky v. Michael Gottlieb, et al., Case No. 4:19-cv-00180 (E.D.Tex.).