Seth Rich family rips private eye for raising possible DNC link

By Alicia Powe

WASHINGTON – A spokesman for the family of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee employee who was shot and killed in Washington last summer – a murder that remains unsolved – is condemning statements made by a private investigator hired to look into the mysterious death.

Brad Brauman, a professional Democratic crisis public-relations consultant, was put in touch with Rich’s family in the days following his murder last July. Brauman made contact with the family through two friends who worked for the DNC.

Now he’s responding to comments to WND by investigator Rod Wheeler, who told WND earlier that he was stunned when he learned a top DNC official had contacted Washington police and Rich’s family demanding to know why Wheeler was inquiring about the death.

Wheeler’s comments earlier also allegedly suggested that Rich could have been the insider source who leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks over the last year or so.

Some of those leaked emails ended up catching Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton in their web, subjecting her eventually to an admonishment from then-FBI chief James Comey that she was extremely careless with the nation’s classified secrets.

Murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich
Murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich

Wheeler, who started his investigation into Seth’s death in March, told WND he was stunned when he learned from Rich’s family that the DNC contacted them about the case.

“How did that DNC person know I had called the police? That is what is baffling me,” Wheeler said. “I just found out from [Rich’s] family that the DNC knew I contacted the police – they hadn’t told me that all this time.”

After Wheeler went to the police for insight into Rich’s murder, the detective assigned to the investigation never replied to Wheeler’s inquiry.

“The family said, ‘Rod, there is something that you need to know,'” Wheeler explained. “The police detective never called you back because the information was given to the DNC that you called the police trying to figure out what was going on.”

Bauman took another position on the issues at hand:

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“I don’t think at this point, given Detective Wheeler’s lack of credibility – that I am going to dignify any accusations that he makes with any sort of discussion, I’m sorry,” he told WND.

Anyone who believes Rich may have leaked DNC emails “deserve a place in hell,” Bauman said angrily.

Bauman dismissed Wheeler’s assertions about the DNC, accusing the veteran detective of fabricating his claims in a desperate attempt for media attention.

“All of these fake news stories surrounding conspiracy theories around Seth that are not sourced and that are found to be fake, all that it does is that it gives the actual murderers the cover they need to stay underground,” he said. “As long as everybody is talking about all of these other things, we get no closer to the truth. These stories actually enable the real murderers to continue to live under the cover of darkness, and that’s what is so frustrating about it.”

Wheeler told WND on Tuesday that he was contacted by a Fox News reporter. The reporter, he said, claimed to have spoken with a federal investigator who has evidence that Rich sent DNC emails to WikiLeaks.

The primary information Wheeler wants to expose to the media is the lack of assistance he says he’s getting from the Washington police in finding Rich’s murderer.

“I hope people understand this – I am not involved at all with the political side of any of this stuff – I am really not. My one focus is on finding a murderer,” he said. “That is my only focus. Now if that murderer is a neighborhood knucklehead who had a gun and killed him that night, then that is who I want to capture. Then the story ends for me when I find him.

“If that murderer is someone who worked with him on his job, then that is who I want to capture. When it comes to this other stuff – when it comes to the emails and Russian hacking and all of that – I haven’t focused on that at all because that is not my focus. My focus is on solely finding a murderer.”

Detective Rod Wheeler
Detective Rod Wheeler

While Wheeler has emphasized in interviews with WND and Fox New that he is not a spokesman for the Rich family, Bauman claims Wheeler has betrayed the trust of the family by speaking out about the response he’s received from the police.

“Rod Wheeler is both in breach of contract and in breach of confidence with the family. He has proven that he does not have his story straight,” Bauman said.

After Bauman emphasized that he and the Rich family want police to get to the bottom of Rich’s case, regardless of where it leads, he blasted Wheeler for admitting publicly any suspicion of the DNC’s involvement.

The Rich family is “devastated” Wheeler has not ruled out a WikiLeaks connection, Bauman said.

“I want to be very clear that what’s at issue here is not letting the evidence determine where this story goes. If there was one credible shred of evidence – actual, real evidence that pointed in the direction of Seth’s involvement, with anyone – the family would make their peace with God.”

He continued: “None of that has ever surfaced. Every single time a story is reported, it is just hearsay, it is lies, it is politically driven or politically motivated hearsay. And it actually causes the opposite of what everyone wants. It causes the inability for the police and for independent investigators to figure out what actually happened.”

Bauman claims the family has been in touch with the police on a regular basis.

When suggestions were made that Rich could have been delivering DNC emails to WikiLeaks, media outlets covered it, although not many in the legacy media.

A federal investigator, who remains anonymous, claims to have proof that Rich sent thousands of DNC emails to WikiLeaks. After learning about the investigator’s evidence, Wheeler notified Washington’s police chief in an attempt to inform law enforcement of the revelations before they became publicized by media.

But the response of the police chief – whom Wheeler knows well and characterized as a “very good guy” – unnerved the veteran homicide detective.

“I wanted to share what I heard with the chief and the senior officials at the police department because I knew Fox News was going to run this story, and I thought it was only fair that I tell the police what we got before this hits the media,” he said. “I shared it with the police last week. And you know what they said? Nothing. They didn’t say, ‘Rod, don’t go with it. Rod, let’s talk about it’ – blank stares.”

“I can’t figure it out,” he continued. “Typically, and what I was hoping they’d say, is, ‘Let us check into this before you go with the story,’ and thank me for bringing them that information.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Rich’s family repudiated the notion that the leaked DNC emails have anything to do with the reason the DNC staffer was killed. Bauman, the family’s spokesman, released a statement denying the report that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks. The statement condemned what the family sees as an attempt to politicize Rich’s death.


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