FBI wants even more time to produce Seth Rich laptop records

Drip, drip, drip.

On September 29, 2022, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant ordered the FBI to produce all records related to Seth Rich’s laptop within 14 days.

On October 12, 2022, the FBI asked the Court to stay its order until October 27, 2022. We did not oppose that request, and the Court granted the extension.

On October 27, 2022, the FBI asked the Court to reverse itself and allow the FBI to withhold the laptop records. In the alternative, the FBI said it should be allowed to produce the records over a period of more than 66 years.

On November 10, 2022, we hammered the FBI’s request to withhold or delay production, and on November 14, 2022 we noted that the FBI had records from both Seth’s personal and work laptops, but the FBI failed to object to production of records from the work laptop. In fact, the FBI failed to discuss the work laptop at all.

The FBI’s response to those arguments was due today, November 30, 2022. At the last minute, the government instead asked for another ten days, this time because it supposedly needs to consult with an FBI official who is not available until next week. Hence my email to the government’s lawyer this afternoon:

Can the FBI give more detail about who this person is and whey they are unavailable? That might change our perspective. If the director is on vacation and does not want to be disturbed, then obviously we’re not OK with that.

The FBI declined to provide more detail. You may recall that FBI Director Christopher Wray excused himself from a U.S. Senate committee hearing on August 4, 2022 because he purportedly had an urgent prior commitment. In reality, he was boarding an FBI-owned jet so he could go on vacation.

Never trust these people. Assume they are lying until they prove otherwise.

The FBI is still trying to withhold records about Seth Rich and CrowdStrike

Surprise, surprise. The FBI is dragging its feet.

Yesterday the government asked for more time to respond to U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant’s September 29, 2022 order directing the FBI to produce all records related to Seth Rich’s laptop. Somewhat relatedly, the FBI is withholding three reports produced by CrowdStrike in August of 2016 regarding the purported hack of the Democratic National Committee.

First the laptop. The FBI wants two more weeks so it can prepare a motion for reconsideration. As a courtesy, we have not objected to the request. According to the government’s motion, “the FBI is uncertain how to comply with the Court’s order as written, and the FBI is seeking input from a pending appellate consultation regarding the order to properly address this issue.”

The order itself is pretty straightforward, at least with respect to Seth’s personal laptop, because it directs the FBI to “produce the information it possesses related to Seth Rich’s laptop and responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA requests within 14 days of this Order.” On the other hand, the order does not discuss Seth’s work laptop, which is also in the possession of the FBI.

I’m waiting for the FBI to explain what it thinks needs to be clarified, then I may be filing my own motion for clarification. Meanwhile, the FBI has cited only one narrow basis for withholding the records related to Seth’s laptop, namely his privacy. I’m not sure why it takes four weeks and an appellate lawyer to figure out why the judge did or didn’t get that issue right.

In any event, I’m reminded of something that I learned almost thirty years ago when I was a newspaper reporter: people with nothing to hide don’t try to hide nothing. [Continued on page 2].

Good news about Seth Rich records, and no thanks to Judicial Watch

As many of you already know, last week U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant ordered the FBI to produce all records related to Seth Rich’s laptop by October 13, 2022. That’s a huge breakthrough, and I suspect I will have a lot to report in the next few weeks. Perhaps we will have a little more insight into whether the murdered Democratic National Committee employee played a role in transferring DNC emails to Wikileaks in 2016.

In fairness to Seth and his family, I do not intend to post all of the laptop contents online. I have a team of investigators and IT experts who will review the contents, and we will post the relevant portions after we finish processing the records. And by “relevant,” I mean those portions that might deal with the transfer of DNC emails to Wikileaks.

A lot of commentators on social media are warning that all of the relevant records have been deleted. I think they are probably right, but we are not just looking for records per se. We are looking for metadata, hence the IT experts. If records were deleted, then we want to know when they were deleted and by whom.

Five years ago we learned that Seth Rich’s family took possession of his laptop after he was murdered in DC, and that raises some red flags. Why not give the laptop directly to the police? If your family member was murdered, wouldn’t you turn everything over to the police?

You may recall that Seth’s brother Aaron filed a federal lawsuit against one of my clients because my client (Ed Butowsky) suggested that Aaron assisted Seth in transferring the DNC emails to Wikileaks. We want to know if files were deleted during the period that the family had the laptop.

And why didn’t the police or the FBI demand the laptop or obtain a grand jury subpoena? I cannot imagine any self-respecting homicide investigator (or leak investigator) ignoring the electronic devices of the decedent. If I was still a cop, that would have been at the top of my list.

The FBI nonetheless obtained the laptop in 2017 — well after Seth’s death — when someone produced it voluntarily. You would expect the FBI to examine it immediately, but it didn’t. Within the last year, the Department of Justice acknowledged in two separate emails that the FBI never examined the laptop. (As I’ve said before, the FBI probably kept Seth’s laptop on the same shelf as Hunter Biden’s laptop).

In his order, Judge Mazzant took the FBI to task because it originally told me in a separate lawsuit filed in 2017 that it had no records whatsoever about Seth Rich, yet in the present lawsuit the FBI suddenly found 20,000 potentially responsive pages. Unfortunately, Judge Mazzant still allowed the FBI to withhold most of the records, but he did not review those records for himself to determine if they were properly withheld.

Our FOIA request also sought all FBI emails about Seth Rich, but the FBI flatly refused to search its email systems on the grounds that it would not be “reasonable.” That was the whole explanation. Unfortunately, Judge Mazzant sided with the FBI on that issue as well. So yes, there will be an appeal.

Judicial Watch: loud, proud, and often useless

In February of 2020, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton announced with much fanfare that JW was filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get records from the FBI about Seth Rich. One month later, Judicial Watch quietly dismissed the case without any explanation whatsoever

Judicial Watch has gone native at the very least, and I’m beginning to wonder if it is controlled opposition. They raise millions every year, and Fitton regularly goes on Fox in a tight golf shirt to show off his biceps, but what have they accomplished lately?

A few years ago I organized The Transparency Project, a Texas nonprofit formed for the purpose of filing FOIA requests in Texas. Judicial Watch and most other organizations file their FOIA lawsuits in DC, where the judicial climate is much more hostile.

We’ve kept The Transparency Project fairly low profile thus far, but expect that to change soon. If you want updates, sign up as a LawFlog follower.

Life and LawFlog

As you can see, this is my first post in over a year. I now have a three-year-old son and an almost one-year-old daughter, so things have changed to say the least. If I cannot post updates myself, I’ll continue to share them with other heretic bloggers (such as TechnoFog). One way or another, the news will get out.

National Security Agency to release records about Americans illegally spied on by FBI

Buckle up, kids. The National Security Agency has agreed to produce records about the FBI’s illegal snooping on 16,000 Americans, according to a letter that I received from the NSA this afternoon, and that suggests a political fight between the two agencies.

Four months ago, the FBI refused to even search for records about the illegal surveillance, which was first made public on September 4, 2020, when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court released a December 2019 order from U.S. District Judge James Boasberg outlining the FBI’s abuses. In a February 3, 2021 letter responding to my Freedom of Information Act request, FBI Section Chief Michael G. Seidel made the absurd claim that my request did “not contain enough descriptive information to permit a search of our records.”

Obviously, Judge Boasberg was able to determine who the 16,000 Americans were, and note that I sent the exact same letter to the FBI that I sent to the NSA, specifically referencing Judge Boasberg’s order: [cont. on p.2]

CIA calls Kash Patel a liar

Back in February, former Trump Administration official Kash Patel told Aaron Mate at RealClearInvestigations that the CIA was sitting on damning information from the House Intelligence Committee about “Russian collusion,” and President Trump had refused to de-classify the information. Today, the CIA essentially called Mr. Patel a liar.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request that I submitted on April 28, 2021, the CIA responded by saying that it could not find any such records from the intelligence committee. You can read my FOIA request by clicking here and the CIA response by clicking here. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Mr. Patel for purportedly leaking classified information. Maybe he leaked classified information that doesn’t exist?

Stay tuned. We will appeal the CIA decision administratively, the appeal will be rejected, and then we will file suit in federal court.

FBI releases records about murdered DNC employee Seth Rich

This afternoon the FBI finally released records about murdered DNC employee Seth Rich and the 2016 theft of Democratic National Committee emails that were later published by Wikileaks. Those documents provide new information, but generally raise more questions than answers.

Of 576 relevant pages identified by the FBI, only 68 were produced, and most of those 68 pages are heavily redacted. They reference Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, Donald Trump, Jr., Jay Sekulow, and Jerome Corsi, among others.

I haven’t had time to thoroughly review the documents, but here are a few things that stand out:

  • On page 64, a November 11, 2017 memo from FBI’s Boston Field Office is almost completely redacted, but the last sentence reads as follows: “Given _________, it is conceivable that an individual or group would want to pay for his death.”
  • A witness interview form begins on page 65, and it appears to be the interview of former Asst. U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines, the prosecutor assigned to the Seth Rich murder case. [Continued on p.2]

CIA refuses to say whether it framed Russia for leaked DNC emails; FBI apparently ignored Seth Rich’s laptop

The Central Intelligence Agency will neither confirm nor deny that it fabricated the Russian “fingerprints” in Democratic National Committee emails published in 2016 by “Guccifer 2.0,” and the FBI implicitly acknowledged today that it never reviewed the contents of DNC employee Seth Rich’s laptop despite gaining custody of the laptop after his murder.

The revelations came in two separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by my clients in the Eastern District of Texas. For those of you who live under a rock, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange strongly implied in a 2016 interview that the leaked DNC emails came from Mr. Rich, while the political / bureaucratic / media establishment has steadfastly maintained that the emails were hacked by agents of Russia.

The latest admissions blow a hole in the government / media narrative, suggesting that federal officials not only ignored Seth Rich’s role in the leaks, but fraudulently shifted the blame to Russia.

In The Transparency Project v. Department of Justice, et al., my client asked to see records indicating whether the CIA or its Directorate of Digital Innovation, its contractors, etc. inserted Russian “fingerprints” into the metadata of the emails that were released publicly. (You can review the entire request by clicking here and reading Paragraph 11).

In a joint report filed today, the CIA informed the court that it intends to assert a Glomar response to the request, i.e., that it “cannot confirm or deny” the existence of such records. To make sure I was not reading too much into that non-response, I contacted one of my investigators, Larry C. Johnson, who retired from the CIA. [Continued on p. 2]

National Security Agency hiding communications between Seth Rich and Julian Assange

The National Security Agency is hiding records about murdered Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich, according to one of my sources, who informed me yesterday that the records are classified as a special access program (the highest level of classification) because they include intercepted communications between Mr. Rich and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Meanwhile, I’ve been authorized to release the transcript of a July 15, 2020 deposition of Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Sy Hersh, wherein Mr. Hersh is forced to admit that he did speak with a senior intelligence official about an FBI report about Mr. Rich and Wikileaks. That contradicts much of what Mr. Hersh has said publicly since early 2017 (more on that below).

As my regular readers know, Mr. Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2016, and shortly thereafter Wikileaks published thousands of DNC emails that were very embarrassing to then-Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. On August 9, 2016, Mr. Assange intimated that the DNC emails were obtained from Mr. Rich, not Russian hackers.

If you doubt my source, recall that three weeks ago — after three years of denials — the FBI was finally forced to admit that it had thousands of records about Mr. Rich, as well as his laptop. Meanwhile, virtually no one in official Washington has lifted a finger to help.

On May 7, 2020, for example, I sent a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell asking him to de-classify the NSA’s records about Mr. Rich, and I copied the letter to Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, and Ron Johnson, as well as Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Grenell left office shortly thereafter, so I sent it with a cover letter to current Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on June 2, 2020.

To date, no one has responded to the letter. Absolutely no one. And for reasons that I do not yet fully understand, none of the Republicans in Congress (or even in the Trump Administration) are willing to go anywhere near the subject of Seth Rich. It’s like the last bus stop before Pizzagate (maybe I need to start looking into that, too). [Continued on p.2]

Demoted Texas Ranger suffers new humiliation

Texas State Trooper Brent Davis was stripped of his badge and gun last week, according to multiple sources, almost three years after being demoted from the Texas Rangers. As usual, the Texas Department of Public Safety is trying to keep things quiet.

The former ranger gained notoriety in 2018 after DPS learned that he had been sleeping with the widow of Ron Horaney of Longview, whose murder he was supposed to be investigating. The revelation caused considerable embarrassment to DPS and likely compromised the murder investigation.

According to my sources, several rangers appeared last week at DPS offices in Tyler, where Trooper Davis had been patrolling a desk since 2018, and they removed all law-enforcement property assigned to Davis, including his uniform and state vehicle. One source informed me this afternoon that Davis submitted his retirement papers this week.

Former and current DPS personnel initially suspected that Davis was stripped of his weapons because he would soon be arrested. As I reported in early 2019, several of my law enforcement friends thought Davis and the widow, Faezah Horaney, should have been at the top of the list of murder suspects. [Continued on p.2].

FBI changes story, finally admits it has thousands of pages of documents about Seth Rich

After three years of claiming that it could not find any records about murdered Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich, the FBI admitted today that it has thousands of pages of information about him, further admitting that it has custody of his laptop.

So what changed between then and now? Here’s an excerpt from the email that I received this morning from an attorney representing the FBI against my client, Brian Huddleston, in Huddleston v. FBI, Case No. 4:20-CV-00447 (E.D. Tex.):

FBI has completed the initial search identifying approximately 50 cross-reference serials, with attachments totaling over 20,000 pages, in which Seth Rich is mentioned.  FBI has also located leads that indicate additional potential records that require further searching.  At this time, FBI anticipates processing  only the pages where Seth Rich is mentioned, along with perhaps another page or two in each situation to provide context.  The issue right now with this batch of documents is the amount of labor required to ingest all of the material so that the responsive pages will, first, be in a page format, secondly, can be identified from among the thousands of non-responsive pages, and finally, be processed. 

FBI is also currently working on getting the files from Seth Rich’s personal laptop into a format to be reviewed.   As you can imagine, there are thousands of files of many types.  The goal right now is to describe, generally, the types of files/personal information contained in this computer.  Furthermore, the FBI will continue to evaluate the responsiveness of these files under the FOIA.

In summary,  FBI has made significant progress in the search, but there is still much work that lies ahead, including (1) ) processing the approximately 50 cross-references (with thousands of pages to ingest and sort through), 2) undertaking some level of review of the personal laptop, and 3) completing all remaining searches.

Unfortunately, these efforts are hampered by FBI FOIA office’s reduction to a 50% staffing posture due to Covid.

In light of the status of this search and the work left to be done, we propose an additional 3 months to complete the tasks described above.  At that time, we will propose a production schedule and briefing schedule.

I would like to provide this status update to the Court with the proposed schedule.  Please let me know if you would like to file something jointly with the Court, or if you  would prefer that I file this and you can respond accordingly.

In his 2018 declaration, Mr. Hardy also testified that the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. was solely responsible for investigating Mr. Rich’s murder. So why does the FBI have Mr. Rich’s laptop rather than MPD? And after fighting tooth and nail to hide this information for so long, why is the FBI coming clean now? [Continued on p.2]