You know what you should probably think about when you’re considering pushing a guy who spent every day lying for you out of your administration? “What does he know and how can he screw me?” is a good start.
Sean Spicer may have slinked back between the bushes to sleep and feed, but he popped his head out to get his revenge after news came out that the White House had directly worked with a rich Republican and Fox News to fabricate the “Seth Rich” conspiracy theory that took the Stupid Part of America by storm. A lawsuit filed by private investigator and former Fox contributor Rod Wheeler accuses Trump supporter Ed Butowsky and Fox News of colluding with the White House to manufacture and push the story as a distraction from the Russia investigation.
The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text message in which Butowski outright says that Trump had personally reviewed and approved the draft of the literal manufactured fake news article. While Spicer stopped short of confirming Trump’s personal involvement, he confirmed to NPR that he personally took a meeting about the Seth Rich story.
“Ed’s been a longtime supporter of the President and asked to meet to catch up,” Spicer told NPR on Monday, adding that Butowski brought Wheeler to the meeting — but that didn’t stop him from lying to the American people during his May 16 press briefing when he denied being aware of the report. “I don’t — I’m not aware of — generally, I don’t get updates on DNC — former DNC staffers,” he stammered.
“Rod Wheeler unfortunately was used as a pawn by Ed Butowsky, Fox News and the Trump administration to try and steer away the attention that was being given about the Russian hacking of the DNC emails,” says Douglas Wigdor, Wheeler’s lawyer. Wheeler was heavily misquoted by the reporter who wrote the story, which has been disputed by the Rich family, the D.C. police, Democratic party officials, and even some of the staff at Fox News. Wheeler told news outlets at the time that Fox News had completely invented quotes for the story.
“I didn’t know who Rod Wheeler was. Once we got into my office, [Butowsky] said, ‘I’m sure you recognize Rod Wheeler from Fox News,’ ” Spicer says, adding that the meeting “had nothing to do with advancing the president’s domestic agenda — and there was no agenda.”
“They were just informing me of the [Fox] story,” Spicer said. While Spicer still will not confirm Trump’s direct involvement, some messages from Butowski to Wheeler do seem to do that.
“We have the full, uh, attention of the White House on this. And tomorrow, let’s close this deal, whatever we’ve got to do,” Butowski says in one voicemail, adding in a text that “the president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately.”
“I’m actually the one who’s been putting this together but as you know, I keep my name out of things because I have no credibility,” Butowsky writes in another message. “One of the big conclusions we need to draw from this is that the Russians did not hack our computer systems and ste[a]l emails and there was no collusion” between “Trump and the Russians.”
Spicer’s decision to confirm that he met with Butowski about the story may seem small that detail is an important one. It’s a thread that can be pulled to cause everything to unravel around Donald Trump.
Featured image via screengrab