Lawsuit Claims Fox News, Trump Conspired on DNC Staffer Murder Story

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Court papers also claim that Fox News sent an article draft to the White House for review, and allegedly took direct orders from Trump to connect the DNC to Rich's murder "to help lift the cloud of the Russian Federation investigation". This one involves President Donald Trump reviewing a pre-publication Fox News story-about a knowingly fake conspiracy created to distract from Trump/Russia news-and personally pushing for its publication. Fun!

On May 14 - the day before Fox News published the story - Wheeler claims Butowsky sent him a text indicating President Trump read the article and wanted it published immediately.

Wheeler was quoted in the story as saying that his investigation "shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks" and that "someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the investigation from going forward".

"Fox News story was pulled b/c Rod Wheeler said [he] didn't say a quote ..."

"Fox News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit - the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race", Wallace, president of News for Fox News, said in his statement to USA TODAY.

The report - which aired May 16 and was retracted a week later - blamed the DNC email leaks during the 2016 presidential election on staffer Seth Rich, who was shot to death in July of that year.

He then texts Wheeler to inform him that Trump read Zimmerman's article and wants it published.

Retired detective Rod Wheeler, the only named source for a discredited Fox News story insinuating a former Democratic National Committee staffer - and not Russian proxies - leaked stolen emails to WikiLeaks, opens his 33-page complaint with a screenshot of a text message he claims to have received from the network's contributor Ed Butowsky. There was no immediate response from Fox or the White House. The timeline is so damning that, considering the dysfunction of this White House, it was nearly too perfectly well executed. It's Wheeler who's filed the lawsuit, as will be explained below.

To NPR, both Spicer and Butowsky deny that the president reviewed the story.

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Zimmerman says that her superiors at Fox News told her to keep the quotes.

DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa also released a statement about the lawsuit, per NBC News, stating, in part, that "if these allegations are true, it is beyond vile".

The investigator, a Fox contributor, also alleged meeting with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Fox News, which reported the story online and on television, retracted it in June. "It had nothing to do with advancing the president's domestic agenda - and there was no agenda", Spicer says now.

Responding to the suit, Rich family spokesman Brad Bauman tells PEOPLE, "I am just so hopeful that this really once and for all gives them the space that they need in order to grieve and gives the police the space that they need in order to actually find the killers".

Fox called the accusation that reporter Malia Zimmerman's story was published to detract from the Russian investigation "completely erroneous".

Wheeler alleges that he was deliberately misquoted on two occasions. "The retraction of this story is being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman". The quotes make Wheeler sound like he's the driving force behind the story.

So, no, you can't believe everything his suit says.

Wheeler, a former Washington, DC homicide detective, accuses Butowsky of being in regular contact with a handful of Trump officials - former press secretary Sean Spicer, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Sarah Flores, the Justice Department's director of public affairs - in the months leading up to the Fox story.

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