GOP operative Ed Butowsky failed miserably last night trying to explain his role in a bogus Fox News report about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. Rod Wheeler, the private investigator who says he was misquoted in the article to make it more favorable to Trump, has sued both Fox News and Butowsky.
Butowsky, appearing without a lawyer, ridiculously claimed he was joking when he told Wheeler that the White House was pushing him to do “whatever we’ve got to do” to publish a Fox News report suggesting it was Rich, not Russia (as the intelligence community has concluded), behind a leak of embarrassing DNC emails last summer, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Significantly, the Fox article in question came out in May (and was subsequently retracted), just as Trump was feeling a lot of pressure about Russia. Wheeler has alleged (quite credibly) that the article's purpose was to "undermine reports of collusion between Russia and the Trump administration."
Butowsky acted as something of a go-between with the White House, Fox News and the Rich family. He admitted in this interview to being a GOP surrogate but he also supposedly acted out of the goodness of his heart in paying for a private investigator to look into Rich's still-unsolved murder on behalf of the family. It was Butowsky who hired Wheeler, also a Fox News contributor, to investigate. Butowsky has appeared many times on Fox News as a guest.
Part of Wheeler’s damning evidence is a voice mail from Wheeler, which you can hear during David Folkenflik’s excellent NPR report on this case:
"A couple minutes ago I got a note that we have the full, uh, attention of the White House, on this. And, tomorrow, let’s close this deal, whatever we’ve got to do. But you can feel free to say that the White House is onto this now."
Included in Wheeler’s complaint is a screenshot of this text message from Butowsky saying Trump "wants the article out immediately.”
On CNN last night, Butowsky argued that the voicemail “had to do with Joey DellaCamera,” a Washington, D.C. detective who “wanted whistleblower status, according to Rod Wheeler.”
Host Chris Cuomo didn’t buy it. “What does that have to do with saying that the White House is interested? Why wouldn’t you say DellaCamera or the D.C. guy, why did you say White House?” He pressed.
Butowsky dodged and deflected:
BUTOWSKY: Well, what I said was Rod Wheeler had asked me to see what we could do to see if I could help this guy and I just simply made some calls. I never talked to anybody at the White House. By the way, I’ve never talked to President Trump in my life and President Trump nor the White House has anything to do with any of this.
Rod Wheeler had been asking me for a long time and said, “Ed, when I get this case settled, the president’s gonna hire me.” And he was always doing this and saying this to me. So this was tongue-in-cheek talking, just texting. It wasn’t serious, ‘cause Rod Wheeler was always looking for a job because he has no money and, by the way, this lawsuit is all about Rod Wheeler trying to get money because he messed up.
But the problem is, as Cuomo ably pointed out, Butowsky’s own words.
CUOMO: When you say “the White House” in the voice mail, you say you meant this DC cop. When you say, "The president just read the article," that was a joke. That’s funny, how? Where’s the punch line?
Butowsky said, the “joke” was about Wheeler supposedly desperately wanting a job: “Me basically finding a way to just kind of chat with him about stuff he’s been talking to me about.”
Butowsky similarly dodged, deflected and filibustered during the entire 22:37 interview. However, he did promise to provide written material to back up his claims. “I’m gonna come up there tomorrow and hand it to you,” Butowsky promised Cuomo.
See why defendants in lawsuits usually appear with their lawyers below, from CNN’s August 1, 2017 Don Lemon Tonight.
totally off-the-wall un-American things. Next we’ll hear police officers using that excuse for shooting people (be they white, black, brown or other colour) who may claim the right to know why they’re being pulled over. “I was just joking and he (or she) didn’t laugh”.