“New Seth Rich documents, fresh off the grill!” attorney Ty Clevenger tweeted Friday night. “FBI filed a new motion about CrowdStrike records. I’ve only given it a cursory review, but we have at least one bombshell.”
Clevenger, a self-described, “Ex-cop, ex-journalist, disgruntled lawyer, muckraking blogger (http://LawFlog.com), and cheerful optimist,” was not exaggerating. The revelation that the Democrat-friendly cyber security firm CrowdStrike was the second party in possession of the laptop owned by the murdered DNC data analyst Seth Rich is a bombshell indeed.
By way of background, in April 2016, the DNC learned that its computers had been hacked. Reportedly, a DNC staffer alerted a DNC attorney at the law firm Perkins Coie, and he, in turn, recommended CrowdStrike to investigate. The Washington Post did not report the story of the hack until June 14. The article was headlined, “Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump.”
The Post article may have been prompted by Julian Assange’s appearance on a British TV show two days earlier. On that occasion, Assange told the interviewer, “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton,” adding ominously, “We have emails.”
If Assange released damaging emails, the Clinton campaign needed to establish an alternative narrative to distract from the pending embarrassment. It would be much more politically useful to portray Hillary as a victim of a Russian plot on Trump’s behalf than to reinforce her image as a negligent keeper of secrets. The headline of the Post’s June 14 article suggests that the Clinton campaign worked quickly to redirect the media’s attention.
According to the Post, there was much CrowdStrike did not even pretend to know, including “how the hackers got in.” This is where Seth Rich comes into play. In a later Washington Post article, an unnamed confidante claimed that the June 14 Post article disturbed Rich. “Oh, my God,” Rich reportedly said. “We have a foreign entity trying to get involved in our elections??”
As a DNC data analyst, Rich had to be aware that CrowdStrike had started its audit two months before the Post article was published. Based on what we know now, it seems likely that CrowdStrike had already taken possession of Rich’s laptop—or was about to—as part of its audit. Rich may have been playing ignorant to distance himself from the hack.
Twelve days after Rich’s July 10 murder, WikiLeaks began releasing emails lifted from the DNC. Interviewed on Dutch TV four weeks after the shooting, Assange said, unprompted, “Whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material and often very significant risks. There’s a twenty-seven-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, murdered just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.”
The show host tried to head off Assange, saying, “That was just a robbery, I believe. Wasn’t it?” Said Assange “No. There’s no finding.” After the host intervened again, Assange responded, “I’m suggesting that our sources take risks.” Although Assange evaded the question of whether Rich was a source, his offer of a $20,000 reward to find Rich’s killer suggested as much.
The major media chose to take little notice of any of this. But then again why should a reputable journalist waste his or her time on the unsolved murder of a 27-year-old DNC data analyst on the streets of Washington just days before a major DNC leak?
So what if the culprits left behind Rich’s wallet, jewelry, and cellphone? So what if Assange suggested Rich was his source for the Wikileaks DNC dump? So what if former DNC chair Donna Brazile dedicated her book “Hacks” to Rich? There was no politically useful angle in any of this. Better to just accept the “botched robbery” scenario floated by the D.C. Metropolitan Police and get back to the Russia collusion beat.
For several years now, Clevenger has been hounding the FBI to get at the truth behind Rich’s murder. Through his multiple FOIA requests on behalf of client Brian Huddleston, Clevenger had previously revealed that the FBI had not just Rich’s personal laptop in its possession, but his work computer as well.
On December 10, Clevenger posted a Twitter thread on what he had learned to that point, beginning with the FBI’s admission of having the two Rich laptops in its possession. Based on the evidence, wrote Clevenger, “I strongly suspect that the data prepared for ‘exfiltration’ was found on Seth’s work laptop, and I strongly suspect that Seth had downloaded that data onto a thumb drive.”
Clevenger cited the forensic report gleaned by legendary journalist Seymour Hersh “indicating that @Wikileaks got the DNC emails from an internal DNC source rather than from Russian hackers.” Said Clevenger at the time, “I suspect the report he’s talking about is the FBI’s report on Seth’s work laptop.”
On Friday, Clevenger tweeted, “That ‘forensic report’ on Seth’s laptop? It was indeed produced by CrowdStrike. Major ramifications.” As is well enough known, the FBI relied upon CrowdStrike to review the DNC computers that were allegedly hacked by the Russians. The FBI never looked at those computers. As it happens, Perkins Coie, the law firm that recommended CrowdStrike, also recommended Fusion GPS, the outfit that gave us the Steele dossier.
“The FBI took possession of Seth’s work laptop but never examined the contents,” Clevenger continued. “By necessary inference, that means the feds AND ROBERT MUELLER relied solely on CrowdStrike’s THREE-PAGE report. So Mueller claimed Seth played no role . . . WITHOUT EVER INVESTIGATING the laptop.”
If nothing else, Mueller thought Seth Rich at least worth discussing in his report on Russian election interference. The report quoted Assange at length about his insinuation that Rich had been a source. “According to media reports,” said the report, “Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an ‘inside job,’ and purported to have ‘physical proof’ that Russians did not give materials to Assange.”
As critical as Assange was to the whole investigation, he should have been the first person Mueller’s people interviewed, but they did not interview him at all. Nor did the FBI interview liberal media analyst Ellen Ratner. On the day after the 2016 election Ratner, a veteran news analyst, participated in a recorded symposium at Embry Riddle University. “I spent three hours with Julian Assange on Saturday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London,” said Ratner matter-of-factly. “One thing he did say was the leaks were not from, they were not from the Russians. They were an internal source from the Hillary Campaign.”
The FBI seems hell-bent on not learning anything about Rich’s still unsolved murder.
“According to the FBI’s own records,” Clevenger affirmed in an email to me on Sunday, “neither it nor Special Counsel Robert Mueller looked at Seth’s personal laptop or work laptop before declaring that Seth had no involvement in the DNC email scandal.”
Clevenger did not miss the paradox. “At the same time,” he continued, “the FBI is claiming it needs to withhold records about Seth’s work laptop because those records are evidence against the Russian intelligence agents who purportedly hacked the DNC. So which is it? Either Seth was involved or he wasn’t.”
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