Drip, drip, drip…
A former employee of a Russian propaganda outfit, Sputnik, is saying his employers asked him to bring up the Seth Rich story in a press briefing, in order to distract from all the eyes peering at Russia.
Feinberg, who was the White House correspondent for Sputnik, first made the allegations when he left the Russian outlet in May. However, his story is newly relevant in light of a lawsuit filed this week that accused President Trump and the White House of playing a role in a “fake news” story designed to advance the same conspiracy theory.
Feinberg started at Sputnik in January, just as Trump took office. He was the outlet’s first reporter to work inside the West Wing. In a conversation with Yahoo News on Wednesday, Feinberg alleged that Sputnik wanted him to bring up a news article that’s at the center of the lawsuit in the White House press briefing room.
This particular detail is coming to light, right on the tail of a lawsuit by a former Fox News contributor and private investigator, Rod Wheeler, who is suing Fox News for allegedly adding details to his report on information gathered on the Rich case.
Wheeler also alleges that the wealthy Trump supporter who hired him to work the case, Ed Butowsky, had mentioned that Trump was leaning on them to get the report out.
Feinberg said that during a meeting held on May 26, his superiors asked him bring up the story in the press briefing.
“It was, ‘We want you to ask about Seth Rich and just, you know, ask about the case and if those revelations should put an end to the Russia hacking narrative and the investigation,” said Feinberg.
According to Feinberg, his bosses handed him a termination letter when he declined. He described the situation as “disturbing.”
“It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state-run Russian propaganda outlet,” Feinberg said.
Fox’s Sean Hannity pushed the Seth Rich case for weeks, openly admitting that if it could be proven that Rich was the source of the leaks of Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks, a move many thought damaged Hillary Clinton’s chance at the presidency, then that would prove motive for Rich’s murder (by Clinton operatives) and would also stop the Russia probe.
The U.S. Intelligence community, across the board, agrees that Russia was behind the release of those emails.
After Rich’s family pushed against the story being spread by Fox, the network eventually retracted the story, saying it did not meet their “journalistic standards.” Hannity, however, continued to push the story for days after.
Speaking of days after:
Based on Feinberg’s story, his bosses at Sputnik asked him to bring up the Fox News article in the briefing three days after the story was retracted. While Feinberg said his editor did not directly bring up the Fox News story he felt the implication was clear since the article was the only alleged new development in the Rich case.
“They didn’t mention the Fox story, but it was clear what they were talking about with ‘revelations,’” Feinberg said.
According to Feinberg, he responded with “a hard no” and was then handed his walking papers.
“It was the same meeting. It was, ‘We want you to do this.’ I said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘We have a termination letter for you,’” Feinberg recounted.
Feinberg said the meeting included his editor, Peter Martinichev, and a man he’d never seen before named Mikhail Safronov, who identified himself as Sputnik’s D.C. bureau chief.
“I never saw him in the office before,” Feinberg said of Safronov.
If even a word of this is accurate, it becomes a new thread in the ongoing saga of Russian meddling and potential collusion.
And it gets even more disturbing.
Feinberg first discussed his departure from Sputnik with Yahoo News on May 26, the day he left the news outlet. At the time, Feinberg identified the Rich story as one of two main fake narratives he was asked to promote during his time at Sputnik. Feinberg said Sputnik also pressed him to ask questions that suggested the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad was not responsible for chemical attacks in that country. There is firm evidence linking Assad to chemical weapons but he has denied responsibility. Assad is a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On the day he left Sputnik, Feinberg said his editors pressured him to ask about Rich at the briefing throughout his final week on the job.
“This week they were pushing on Seth Rich. They were pushing on Seth Rich and I kept saying no,” Feinberg said in the May conversation.
Can this be directly linked to Trump?
I don’t think so. Even if every word is true, at best, it shows ongoing attempts by the Russian government to get U.S. authorities to look elsewhere.