The conspiracy theory that Seth Rich was murdered by Hilary Clinton is back in the news again. Rich, A DNC employee, was murdered in 2016 in what Washington D. C. police have said was a “botched robbery.”
On Friday, The Washington Times posted an editorial titled “More cover-up questions” that alleges new and explosive information regarding Rich’s murder. The piece’s author, James A. Lyons, is a retired admiral who served as commander of the U. S. Pacific Fleet in the 1980s. While Lyons’ military background is now being cited by conspiracy theorists as evidence of the truth of his claims, the retired admiral is no stranger to fringe ideas. In 2015 he claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated all U. S. security agencies, even going so far as the accuse CIA director John Brennan of being a “Muslim convert.”
A close reading of Lyons’ new column on Seth Rich reveals little in the way of evidence. Instead, he delivers a dizzying litany of rumors and innuendo. Lyons cites the robbery of an FBI SUV two miles from Rich’s murder as a possible source for the gun that was used in the crime. He also makes claims that data from Seth Rich’s laptop “revealed that Mr. Rich downloaded thousands of DNC emails and was in touch with Wikileaks.” However, he provides no evidence for this statement. In 2017, Fox News retracted a story that claimed a connection between Seth Rich and Wikileaks.
Arguably the most explosive claim in Lyons’ editorial is the claim that Seth Rich’s parents admitted that Rich was Wikileaks’ source for DNC emails released at the height of the 2016 presidential campaign. Many right-wing outlets, from InfoWars to Gateway Pundit, have run headlines touting this new claim. But Lyons offers nothing more than a second-hand rumor:
According to Ed Butowsky, an acquaintance of the family, in his discussions with Joel and Mary Rich, they confirmed that their son transmitted the DNC emails to Wikileaks.
This revelation flies in the face of past public statements from Seth Rich’s family. In an editorial for The Washington Post, they couldn’t have been more clear:
Still, conservative news outlets and commentators continue, day after painful day, to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that Seth was killed after having provided WikiLeaks with emails from the DNC. Those theories, which some reporters have since retracted, are baseless, and they are unspeakably cruel.
While it is possible that something has changed, until Seth Rich’s parents confirm the account from Lyons, it should be treated as nothing more than a rumor.
Some of the crueler corners of the internet have long speculated that Seth Rich’s parents are involved in the conspiracy to cover-up his politically motivated murder. Even his brother has been accused of being in on the scheme. I expect the Rich family will condemn Lyons’ article, but I don’t expect their denials to do anything but fuel the rabid right-wing conspiracies.