“THE LEAKS WERE NOT FROM THE RUSSIANS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 21, 2019) — On Sunday evening, Atty. Ty Clevenger, who represents Dallas businessman Ed Butowsky in two federal defamation lawsuits, tweeted a video in which journalist Ellen Ratner states that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told her in a face-to-face meeting that he did not obtain the DNC emails from a Russian source.
Many believe that the release of the emails by WikiLeaks was responsible for Hillary Clinton’s loss of the 2016 presidential election to businessman and political novice Donald Trump.
The U.S. government’s narrative, supported by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report completed in March and released publicly in April, is that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC’s servers and stole the emails (pp. 55-56).
The operatives allegedly then provided them to WikiLeaks, which began releasing them on July 22, 2016, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
Assange has denied that any “state party,” including Russians, provided the emails.
In August 2012, Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after skipping bail in connection with a case arising in Sweden. The embassy permitted Assange to remain until April of this year, when London police were shown entering and forcibly removing Assange from the building to face a judge.
In late May, Assange was reported to be in poor health in a London prison, where he is serving a one-year sentence on the bail charge.
Last week, Butowsky interviewed with Pete Santilli and this writer about the ordeal that he described as having his life “upended by false allegations that he conspired with White House officials to divert attention away from earlier (and equally false) allegations that President Donald Trump ‘colluded’ with the Russian government to ‘steal’ the 2016 Presidential election from Hillary Clinton.”
In the lawsuit Clevenger filed in March in the Eastern District of Texas and revised last Monday, Butowsky claims that Ratner asked Butowsky to relay a message from Assange to the parents of a slain DNC employee, Seth Rich, who was fatally shot in the early-morning hours of July 10, 2016 in the Bloomingdale section of Washington, DC.
Approximately a month after Rich’s death, Assange offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to a suspect. Other entities have also pledged rewards totaling approximately $350,000, but Rich’s death has never been solved.
“Beginning in the summer of 2016, Assange and WikiLeaks made a number of statements about Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016. The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails,” the Mueller report states on page 56.
Documents associated with the case are classified as “secret” and “top secret,” according to the NSA’s response to Clevenger’s FOIA request of October 2017, and “their disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave or serious damage to the national security.”
Ratner’s late brother, Michael Ratner, had represented Assange and championed human rights issues throughout his career. According to Butowsky, Ellen was returning to the U.S. from a dedication ceremony for Michael when she stopped to visit Assange.
In the video Clevenger tweeted Sunday evening, Ratner was a guest at the “Speaker Series” sponsored by Embry Riddle Aeronautical University the day after the 2016 presidential election. “I spent three hours with Julian Assange on Saturday at the Ecuadorian embassy in London,” she volunteered to the other guest, former New York Congressman John LeBoutillier. “One of the things he did say is that the leaks were not from the Russians. They were an internal source from the Hillary campaign or from somebody that knew Hillary, an enemy,” Ratner said. “And he does not think they’re from Russians, and he said Russia got credit for something WikiLeaks should have gotten credit for.”
The message from Assange, Butowsky said Ratner told him upon her return from London, was that Seth Rich had provided the DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Assange reportedly wanted Rich’s parents, Joel and Mary Rich, to know so that they might be able to find their son’s killer or killers. According to Butowsky, Ratner said that Assange believed that the Washington, DC Metro Police were not conducting a thorough investigation or perhaps any investigation at all.
According to the amended filing, Butowsky did not immediately contact the Riches, but rather, waited until December 17, 2016. At that point, page 14, “at the instigation of Ms. Ratner, Mr. Butowsky finally contacted Joel and Mary Rich, the parents of Seth, and he relayed the information about Ms. Ratner’s meeting with Mr. Assange. During that conversation, Mr. Rich told Mr. Butowsky that he already knew that his sons were involved in the DNC email leak, but he and his wife just wanted to know who murdered Seth. Mr. Rich said he was reluctant to go public with Seth’s and Aaron’s role in leaking the emails because ‘we don’t want anyone to think our sons were responsible for getting Trump elected.’ Mr. Rich said he did not have enough money to hire a private investigator, so Mr. Butowsky offered to pay for one. Mr. Rich accepted the offer and thanked Mr. Butowsky in an email.”
The private investigator hired by the Riches, Butowsky told Santilli, was Rod Wheeler, a former Fox News contributor and DC Metro Police homicide detective. In interviews in May 2017 with Fox 5 and Sean Hannity of the Fox News Channel, Wheeler confirmed he was investigating the case for the Rich family.
Butowsky is a named defendant in a lawsuit filed by Seth Rich’s brother, Aaron, which is still pending. A lawsuit filed by Joel and Mary Rich against Butowsky, 21st Century Fox and a Fox News reporter was dismissed last August but has been appealed.
A third suit filed by Wheeler, represented by Atty. Douglas Wigdor, was dismissed on the same day as Joel and Mary Rich’s action by Judge George B. Daniels.
Butowsky is suing several law firms and attorneys personally as well as media figures for allegedly disseminating false claims about him, which he said have caused harm to his business, destroyed him financially and placed his family’s safety in jeopardy. In his interview with The Post & Email, Butowsky said that the catalyst for the amending of the March lawsuit with the new information about Ratner was a July 9, 2019 article by Yahoo! News “chief investigative correspondent” Michael Isikoff titled, “Exclusive: The true origins of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. A Yahoo News investigation.”
Isikoff began his article, which is accompanied by a six-part podcast, with, “In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.”
Butowsky objects to Isikoff’s alleged characterization of him in the article as a “Russian agent.”
In his interview with Santilli on Tuesday, Butowsky said that despite a pledge to keep Ratner’s involvement “off the record,” Isikoff contacted Ratner about Butowsky’s claim and that Ratner said Butowsky “was lying.”
For the last three years, the mainstream media has worked assiduously to convince the public that the allegation that Rich was involved in the transfer of the emails to WikiLeaks is no more than a “conspiracy theory.”