WASHINGTON — The lawyer for a Washington private investigator who is suing Fox News over its use of allegedly invented quotes in a news story advancing a bizarre conspiracy theory said Tuesday he will seek to depose President Trump and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer to question them over their roles in the affair.
“We’re going to litigate this case as we would any other,” and that means “we’ll want to depose anyone who has information,” including the president, said attorney Douglas Wigdor, who is representing the investigator, Rod Wheeler.
The lawsuit was filed in a New York federal court on Tuesday against Fox News, one of its reporters, Malia Zimmerman, and Ed Butowsky, a Dallas-based financier who has often appeared as a commentator on Fox News and allegedly worked with Zimmerman on a story about the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich.
According to the lawsuit, which was first reported by National Public Radio’s David Folkenflik, Butowsky on his own hired Wheeler, a former Washington, D.C., homicide detective, to investigate Rich’s murder. The 27-year-old Rich was shot on a Washington street one night last July in what police believe was a botched robbery.
The lawsuit charges Butowsky worked with Zimmerman to create a fake news story connecting Rich to the leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee, something intelligence agencies have said was orchestrated by the Russian government.
“Butowsky and Zimmerman were not simply Good Samaritans,” the lawsuit alleges. “They were interested in advancing a political agenda for the Trump Administration. Specifically, it was their aim to have Mr. Wheeler confirm that: i) Seth Rich was responsible for the leak of DNC emails to WikiLeaks; and ii) Seth Rich was murdered by a Democrat operative because he leaked the emails to WikiLeaks.”
In a telephone interview Tuesday night with Yahoo News, Butowsky called the lawsuit “bulls***” and flatly denied the suit’s claim that he had worked with President Trump or other White House officials to manufacture quotes to promote the now discredited story about Rich and WikiLeaks. “I’ve never spoken to the president in my life,” said Butowsky. His text messages to Wheeler, quoted in the lawsuit and referring to President Trump’s interest in the upcoming Fox News story, were “teasing” comments by him to the investigator because “he wanted me to get him a job at the White House.”
The suit alleges…