WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice is demanding the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington, D.C., release records relating to the murder of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich.
On Sept. 1, Texas attorney Ty Clevenger submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request with the DOJ and FBI requesting all records and correspondence pertaining to Rich.
“This request includes, but is not limited to, any records or correspondence resulting from any investigation of his murder,” Clevenger wrote in his letter to the government agencies.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office rejected Clevenger’s FOIA request, demanding he submit a death certificate with his request to prove that Rich was dead.
“Since you have not furnished a release, death certificate, or public justification for release, the release of records concerning a third party would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and would be in violation of the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C.§ 552a,” the office said.
But Clevenger appealed. And on Tuesday, Sean R. O’Neil, the chief of administrative appeals at DOJ’s Office of Information Policy, directed the executive office for U.S. attorneys to search for and produce any records covered in Clevenger’s FOIA request.
“You appealed from the action of the Executive Officer for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) on your Freedom of Information Act request for access to records located in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia concerning Seth Conrad Rich,” O’Neil wrote in a letter to Clevenger.
“After carefully considering your appeal, and as a result of discussions between EOUSA personnel and this office, I am remanding your request to EOUSA for a search for responsive records. If EOUSA locates releasable records, it will send them to you directly, subject to applicable fees,” the letter continues.
As WND has reported, Rich, 27, the DNC’s voter expansion data director, had accepted a position with Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign just before his death.
On July 10, 2016, he was fatally shot in the back in Washington, D.C., near his apartment in an affluent neighborhood. Rich had been working for the DNC at a time when emails from the organization were provided to WikiLeaks for publication.
The Metropolitan Police Department and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowers insist Rich was randomly killed during a “botched robbery.” But others are doubtful because he was found with his wallet, credit cards and other valuables.
Clevenger said the effort to hide information about the Rich investigation prompted him to cull information from the government about the mysterious murder.
“I don’t really have a strong opinion about exactly what happened to Rich, but it just seemed there was so much of an effort to conceal information – that alone made me suspicious,” he told WND on Wednesday. “I’m a former reporter, a former cop – deputy sheriff in Texas – and currently a lawyer. Any time somebody hides information, that makes me suspicious.
“I understand in an investigative murder there is evidence that, for strategic reasons, you want to keep under wraps,” he continued. “But in this case, there’s just a lot of questions that could be answered – a coroner’s report, basic information. The rigid official narrative, that it was a robbery and that’s that – no further discussion – that’s suspicious.”
DC-based lawyer and lobbyist, Jack Burkman, has organized the Profiling Project, a Washington, D.C.-based team of forensic psychology graduate students and instructors, to find Rich’s killers. In addition, he has launched a nationwide TV campaign pleading for the public’s help in cracking the Rich case.
Burkman, who claimed police insistence on withholding the most basic information pertaining to Rich’s murder is suspicious, filed a lawsuit against Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department. He is demanding the release of Rich’s medical examiner’s report, autopsy documents and ballistics reports, which are typically made public during murder investigations.
Like Burkman, Clevenger believes it’s alarming that the government has refused to release basic information about the Rich investigation, as the media castigates anyone who questions the government’s “official narrative” about Rich’s murder.
“When I was a reporter, I questioned everything; you don’t take anything for granted, particularly when you are talking about government,” Clevenger continued. “Yet, with this story, it’s almost like the mainstream press has gone on the defensive, slamming anyone that would question the official narrative.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hinted last year that Rich, and not Russian agents, may have been the source of the Democratic National Committee emails he published online. Assange now is seeking a pardon in exchange for “information that will be of dramatic importance to the United States” concerning the source of the DNC email leak during the presidential election.
In an interview with WND, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., urged President Trump to meet with Assange. Rohrabacher met in August with Assange, who assured him Russia and Trump had nothing to do with leaking the emails.
The Trump administration, Clevenger charged, should be trying to find out more information about Rich and meet with Assange.
“It’s seems like a no-brainer – at least talk to the guy – find out what he’s got. And if he’s got something worthwhile, then make a deal with him,” he said. “That’s standard operating procedure in any other case.”
WikiLeaks is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Rich’s killer. Burkman is offering $105,000, One America News Network $100,000, Metropolitan Police Department $25,000 and businessman and investor Martin Shkreli $100,000.
The DNC, however, has offered no reward to help find the killer of its staffer. Instead, the DNC honored its murdered employee by dedicating a bike rack outside its headquarters in Rich’s memory.
Clevenger has made numerous FOIA requests, most of which he filed last year pertaining to Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
Aiming to get Clinton and her personal attorneys disbarred for their handling of her official emails during her time as secretary of state, he filed a FOIA request in March of 2016 asking for a variety of documents from the FBI and the Justice Department, including correspondence exchanged with Congress about the Clinton email investigation.
His request for information from the FBI’s files was initially shot down.
FBI records management section chief David M. Hardy told Clevenger in a letter on Sept. 11 that he has “not sufficiently demonstrated that the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs personal privacy interests of the subject.”
But DOJ official Sean O’Neill ordered the FBI to produce records about the Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s decision and agreed to publicly release more details of the probe into the former secretary of state.
Clevenger, fearing the FOIA requests will remain “in limbo,” said O’Neil recommends he aggressively follow up with his DOJ officials to expedite his record requests.