FBI Releases Documents on 2016 Seth Rich Murder

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The FBI recently released a set of documents related to the murder of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich who was shot dead in Washington on July 16, 2016 near his home.
The FBI building in Miami, Florida. The Bureau recently released documents on the 2016 murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. (Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The FBI recently released a set of documents related to the murder of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich who was shot dead in Washington on July 16, 2016, near his home. 

Rich’s murder triggered huge interest due to allegations that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claimed the staffer was the source of the email leak that rocked the 2016 Presidential Election. Democrats and mainstream media have portrayed Rich’s death as a robbery. However, none of his valuables were taken.

The FBI released the documents in response to a lawsuit filed by Texas resident Brian Huddleston under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), represented by lawyer Ty Clevenger. Huddleston had requested the release of documents in June 2020.

A judge ordered the release, and the FBI eventually delivered 68 of the 576 documents related to the case. And though the documents are redacted, Clevenger told Epoch Times that whatever information gleaned from them is enough to make the entire robbery narrative fall apart. He says that the release is “a step in the right direction.”

According to the documents, top officials from the Justice Department met in 2018 to discuss the murder, reviewing Rich’s financial records but finding no unusual activity. When interviewing witnesses, none reported any significant changes to the victim’s life before his death. One witness saw a man walking away from the spot where Rich was killed. However, the man thought it was Rich himself and did not find it suspicious. Only the next day did the witness realize something had gone wrong.

Another witness had taken Rich’s laptop to their home; the device later fell into the custody of the FBI. It is unknown whether the witness deleted files or made changes to the system. However, the lawyer is concerned that the government has no idea whether any critical data has been deleted from Rich’s laptop. 

Clevenger is planning to request U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant to issue an order to release unredacted copies of the documents. 

An independent investigation

In June 2017, Profiling Project, a group conducting an independent investigation of Rich’s murder, released a report detailing their findings on the case. Composed of George Washington University’s forensic psychology graduate students and professors, the Project concluded that the murder was unlikely to be a random homicide or a robbery gone bad. 

Forensic psychology graduate students and professors at the George Washington University concluded in the Project that the murder was unlikely to be a random homicide or a robbery gone bad. Image: Wikimedia/CC0.2.0

They point out that the crime scene is not consistent with a random attack, as not even a bullet casing was found at the site. Such a “sanitized” crime scene indicates “careful planning on the part of the offender.” 

“We do not believe Offender is a robber, nor a robber who killed. Offender had the ability to kill, and brought with them an instrument to do so. Though we do not know what other items Seth may have had in his possession, his watch, phone, wallet, and necklace were not stolen. Nor was Seth’s body reported to have been further accosted or degraded. With such a sanitized crime scene and no emotional indications, this is not Offenders’ first kill,” the report stated. 

“Further research indicates that robbers go to great lengths to ensure that a robbery does not escalate into a murder,” 

The group found the case to be highly unusual, came across several discrepancies in the data, and heavily criticized the police in the report. Some of these discrepancies were due to input errors, while some other data were skewed without a proper explanation. The report asked law enforcement officials to ensure that data is not used to support any political narratives.

Media conflict

Rich’s family was also engaged in a conflict with media outlet Fox News following his death. TV host Sean Hannity covered the issue extensively when Rich’s brother wrote a letter to Hannity’s producer, asking that the television host stop spreading what he called “conspiracy theories.” The brother asked the channel to stop dragging their “family name through the mud.” 

Hannity eventually dropped discussion of the case to comply with the family’s request.

“I totally and completely understand how upset and how hard this is on this family, especially over the recent coverage of Seth’s death,” Hannity said on his broadcast.

“I’ve been communicating with them. I got a very heartfelt note. I also sent them a heartfelt note back…However, out of respect for the family’s wishes, for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time,” he said.

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