Neither the Trump administration nor Fox News needed another scandal, but that’s exactly what they got on Tuesday afternoon when news broke of a lawsuit filed by Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler against Trump supporter Edward Butowsky and Fox News itself.
Wheeler has accused Butowsky and Fox News of using him “as a pawn.”
It all started with the death of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer who was shot outside of his Washington, D.C. home in 2016. After Rich’s death, rumors began to circulate that it was he who leaked DNC emails to the press, not Russian hackers.
Butowsky promised to pay Wheeler if he would look into the story about Rich being the real person behind the leak. Wheeler originally agreed to take on the story, but he is now claiming that the final report was filled with falsities — including fake quotes about Rich — added by other Fox News reporters.
Wheeler told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle on Wednesday that, after he learned about the fake quotes, he contacted Fox News’ Malia Zimmerman and demanded a retraction. Zimmerman told Wheeler that she would remove the quotes, but never followed through.
Wheeler also reached out to Butowsky and tried to “push back” on the story. When he contacted Butowsky, though, he learned some surprising information about the reason the fake quotes were not removed.
‘When I confronted Butowsky about it, he said: “the quotes were left in there because that’s the way the president wanted them.” And I said, wait a minute, why is the president even involved in a murder investigation from a guy that was killed in northwest D.C.?’
Butowsky originally told Wheeler that he had had direct contact with Trump about the story, but he has since claimed that that was just a joke. Whether he was joking or not, the future doesn’t look too bright for the Texas-based financial advisor.
Wheeler’s lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, who also appeared on MSNBC, said that they will “follow the paper trail” and are going to “issue subpoenas” and “take depositions.”
Wigdor also accused Butowsky of trying to help the Trump administration by creating a distraction from the media’s focus on the administration’s ties to Russia.
‘If you read the texts and listen to the voicemails and recordings, it’s very obvious that the real reason was to try to help the Trump administration get away from the Russia narrative, the Russian hacking of the DNC, and shift that to Seth Rich to avoid the “cloud.”‘
Watch a clip from Wheeler’s MSNBC appearance in the video below, available via YouTube.
Featured image is a screenshot from the video.