Lawsuit Claims White House OK’d Debunked Story Alleging a Conspiracy to Murder Democrat Staffer Seth Rich
Fake news. A lawsuit accuses the White House and Fox News of concocting a fake story about Democratic leaks and the unsolved killing of a former Democratic National Committee staff member to distract attention from the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy investigation. The lawsuit, filed against Fox by Rod Wheeler, an investigator who had been looking into the killing of Seth Rich, said Fox was willing to show Trump the story before it was posted. Fox later retracted the story and removed the video from its website, but the charges Fox raised continue to be repeated frequently among right-wing media.
Wheeler’s lawsuit focuses particular attention on the role of the Trump supporter, Ed Butowsky, in weaving the story. He is a wealthy Dallas investor and unpaid Fox commentator on financial matters. Butowsky offered to pay for Wheeler to investigate the death of the DNC aide, Seth Rich, on behalf of his grieving parents in Omaha, Neb. On April 20, a month before the story ran, Butowsky and Wheeler met at the White House with then-press secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering. Spicer says he was unaware of any contact involving Trump himself.
In an unrelated matter, Trump has also been accused of dictating a misleading statement for his son to give The New York Times about a meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with a Russian who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Obamacare fixes. Senators plan to look at shoring up the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said the committee will work on legislation to “stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market” for 2018. Alexander urged Trump to continue paying the subsidies that help moderate- and low-income people afford insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Trump has repeatedly threatened to cut off the subsidies.
No privilege here. The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to an internal announcement to the civil rights division obtained by The New York Times. The notice seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
New FBI director. The Senate voted 92-5 to confirm former Justice Department lawyer Christopher Wray as the next FBI director, replacing James Comey who was fired by Trump in May. Wray said he would “never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice.”
Clean Water Act. The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a notice in the Federal Register about repealing the Obama-era regulations about what bodies of water are regulated under the Clean Water Act. A section of the Defense Department spending bill allows the administration to revoke the rule without asking for public comments about the proposed change.