As the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, Shea would oversee some of the lingering cases from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, along with a number of politically charged investigations. The office is also generally responsible for handling potential prosecutions if Congress finds a witness in contempt.
There's no lack of work waiting for Shea. There's the Flynn case, of course. And all the Durham related matters--FISA fraud, the origins of the Russia Hoax, etc. There are also--or should be--any number of leak cases. And then there are old cases, some closed, that deserve another look. The Awan brothers, for example.
But here's a case that begs for a look--or another look, depending on whether you believe the FBI or not: the Seth Rich murder. If Durham is busy looking at the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that "established" for the gullible and for the cynical Never Trumpers that Russian "hacking" of the DNC and general "meddling" was a thing. Barr has consistently made skeptical noises, so why not start by finding out what the FBI did or didn't do? We know the FBI didn't examine the DNC server--preferring to take the word of a Ukrainian linked firm, Crowdstrike, that the meddling Russians had hacked it.
There's an interesting story that's been out for a few days now. It seems the FBI has been caught out lying about Seth Rich. Here's the 25 words or less version of what's going on: The FBI has always denied possessing any records related to the Seth Rich investigation; documentary evidence has surfaced that proves that position to be false.
For the sake of refreshing everyone's recollection, this is what the Seth Rich case is about:
In June 2016 a vast cache of the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. On 10 July 2016 an employee from the location of the leak was murdered without obvious motive, in an alleged street robbery in which nothing at all was stolen. Not to investigate the possibility of a link between the two incidents would be grossly negligent. It is worth adding that, contrary to a propaganda barrage, Bloomingdale where Rich was murdered is a very pleasant area of Washington DC and by no means a murder hotspot. It is also worth noting that not only is there no suspect in Seth Rich’s murder, there has never been any semblance of a serious effort to find the killer. Washington police appear perfectly happy simply to write this case off.
The theory of people who doubt the official version of a street robbery is that Rich, a supporter of Bernie Sanders, was angered that the DNC was acting more or less--more rather than less--as a part of the Hillary campaign, actively seeking to torpedo the Sanders campaign. That was the alleged motive for Rich to download that vast cache of DNC emails and provide them to Wikileaks--to expose the fraud that was being perpetrated against Sanders by Hillary and the DNC.
Of course the business of the FBI's alleged lies is much more complicated--that's the way the government likes things when it wants to hide "stuff." Here's the longer, but hopefully straightforward, version.
A Texas businessman, Ed Butowsky, has for years taken an interest in the Seth Rich murder case. His attorney, Ty Clevenger, has filed suit for defamation against NPR:
Texas investor Ed Butowsky filed the suit in 2018, claiming that NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik made false statements about him in online articles and on Twitter. The suit also accused Folkenflik of civil conspiracy for working with a source to “publish and republish false and defamatory statements that harmed” Butowsky, the suit said.
Folkenflik’s reporting cited Butowsky as a source of a conspiracy theory about the 2016 murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Fox News had retracted a 2017 story suggesting Rich’s murder may have been in retaliation for DNC emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks.
As part of that suit, Clevenger filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the FBI, seeking all documentation regarding Seth Rich. The FBI, through David M. Hardy, Section Chief, Record/Information Dissemination Section, Information Management Division, twice replied in sworn affidavits that the FBI had no "responsive records."
Awkwardly for David M. Hardy, Judicial Watch had separately sought communications between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page under FOIA. The response that Judicial Watch received included two pages of emails under the subject line: "Seth Rich." Apparently Judicial Watch knew what magic words to use to force the FBI to conduct a proper search, which Clevenger did not.
Judging from the criminal referral letter that Clevenger has sent to John Durham when he became aware of this, Clevenger has no sense of humor at all. The letter is worth reading in its entirety, to get a picture of the games bureaucrats play:
Mr. Durham, Mr. Donoghue and Mr. Horowitz:
I wish to file a criminal complaint regarding false statements made by FBI Section Chief David M. Hardy in two affidavits [click here and here] filed in the FOIA case identified above [i.e., Ty Clevenger v. U.S. Department of Justice, et al., Civil Action No. 18-CV-01568]. I requested FBI records pertaining to Seth Rich, who allegedly was the source of Democratic National Committee emails published by Wikileaks in 2016 (rather than Russian hackers). In the affidavits (attached to the email version of this letter), Mr. Hardy testified that his office conducted a reasonable search, and it found no responsive records.
New evidence proves otherwise, and it appears that Mr. Hardy has perpetrated a fraud on the court. Judicial Watch recently published documents that it obtained in response to a FOIA request for communications between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page (https://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/JW-v-DOJ-Strzok-Page-Prod-16-00154.pdf), and I would direct your attention to pages 123-125. In those pages, you will find a heavily-redacted email discussion regarding Mr. Rich. Note that the header on those emails is “Seth Rich.”
I defy Mr. Hardy to provide an innocent explanation for his office’s failure to produce these emails, and I suspect the misconduct reaches far beyond my specific FOIA request. Several facts are worth noting:
* Mr. Hardy touts the reasonableness of relying on the FBI’s Central Records System (“CRS”), but note that CRS does not search the FBI email system. That sort of half-baked, designed-to-fail search methodology would never be tolerated in litigation among private parties, yet it appears to be standard operating procedure at the FBI. And note that when I asked the FBI to search its email systems, it arbitrarily refused.
* Mr. Hardy’s staff purportedly searched for “Seth Conrad Rich” but failed to search for “Seth Rich,” another tactic designed to exclude responsive records.
* According to Mr. Hardy’s affidavit, the only records indexed by CRS are those that are manually designated by FBI personnel. Undoubtedly, FBI personnel know that they can immunize their email communications from FOIA requests simply by omitting the subject matter from the CRS, because Mr. Hardy will subsequently declare (1) that a CRS search is sufficient and (2) there is no need to conduct an email search.
I have previously written to Mr. Durham regarding evidence that the FBI was hiding information about Mr. Rich, and I have attached a December 13, 2019 order issued in Butowsky v. Folkenflik, Case No. 4:18-cv-00442-ALM-CMC (E.D. Tex.). Please see pages 23-29 in particular. Finally, I have attached an October 8, 2019 reply in the FOIA case, and it notes a previous occasion wherein Mr. Hardy provided inaccurate information to a court.
It appears that FBI personnel are deliberately hiding records about Seth Rich and deliberately deceiving the court about the reasonableness of their searches for those records. Worse, this sort of bad-faith non-compliance appears to be the norm.
I request that your respective offices investigate to determine whether responsive information has been withheld intentionally, and whether Mr. Hardy knowingly submitted false affidavits to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Thank you for your consideration.
/s/ Ty Clevenger
I would never dare claim expertise re FOIA--that's why organizations like Judicial Watch exist. But that's not the point. The point is that the FBI's Washington Field Office and the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, in the person of Peter Strzok, did have some interest in Seth Rich, despite public avowals to the contrary. Of course, it makes sense--since Strzok at the time was the FBI's point man for all things Hillary. And, well, there were people who thought Seth Rich was up to something that Hillary would have had an interest in.
Here's an explanation of the emails themselves that can be found at Zerohedge, along with a copy of the almost totally redacted emails themselves--Has The FBI Been Lying About Seth Rich?
To look at the documents themselves, they have to be read from the bottom up, and they consist of a series of emails between members of the Washington Field Office of the FBI (WF in the telegrams) into which Strzok was copied in, and which he ultimately forwarded on to the lawyer Lisa Page.
The opening email, at the bottom, dated 10 August 2016 at 10.32am, precisely just one month after the murder of Seth Rich, is from the media handling department of the Washington Field Office. It references Wikileaks’ offer of a reward for information on the murder of Seth Rich, and that Assange seemed to imply Rich was the source of the DNC leaks. The media handlers are asking the operations side of the FBI field office for any information on the case. The unredacted part of the reply fits with the official narrative. The redacted individual officer is “not aware of any specific involvement” by the FBI in the Seth Rich case. But his next sentence is completely redacted. Why?
It appears that “adding” references a new person added in to the list. This appears to have not worked, and probably the same person (precisely same length of deleted name) then tries again, with “adding … for real” and blames the technology – “stupid Samsung”. The interesting point here is that the person added appears not to be in the FBI – a new redacted addressee does indeed appear, and unlike all the others does not have an FBI suffix after their deleted email address. So who are they?
The fourth email, at 1pm on Wednesday August 10, 2016, is much the most interesting. It is ostensibly also from the Washington Field Office, but it is from somebody using a different classified email system with a very different time and date format than the others. It is apparently from somebody more senior, as the reply to it is “will do”. And every single word of this instruction has been blanked. The final email, saying that “I squashed this with …..”, is from a new person again, with the shortest name. That phrase may only have meant I denied this to a journalist, or it may have been reporting an operational command given.
As the final act in this drama, Strzok then sent the whole thread on to the lawyer, which is why we now have it. Why?
It is perfectly possible to fill in the blanks with a conversation that completely fits the official narrative. The deletions could say this was a waste of time and the FBI was not looking at the Rich case. But in that case, the FBI would have been delighted to publish it unredacted. (The small numbers in the right hand margins supposedly detail the exception to the FOIA under which deletion was made. In almost every case they are one or other category of invasion of privacy).
And if it just all said “Assange is talking nonsense. Seth Rich is nothing to do with the FBI” then why would that have to be sent on by Strzok to the FBI lawyer?
Finally, and perhaps this is the most important point, the FBI was at this time supposed to be in the early stages of an investigation into how the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. The FBI here believed Wikileaks to be indicating the material had been leaked by Seth Rich who had then been murdered. Surely in any legitimate investigation, the investigators would have been absolutely compelled to check out the truth of this possibility, rather than treat it as a media issue?
We are asked to believe that not one of these emails says “well if the publisher of the emails says Seth Rich was the source, we had better check that out, especially as he was murdered with no sign of a suspect”. If the FBI really did not look at that, why on earth not? If the FBI genuinely, as they claim, did not even look at the murder of Seth Rich, that would surely be the most damning fact of all and reveal their “investigation” was entirely agenda driven from the start.
Surely John Durham, or Tim Shea if Durham is too busy, could interest themselves in what was going on here? Maybe it would be like finding the end of a string and starting to pull on it.