A judge in a Texas court ordered the FBI to hand over two laptops owned by Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee (DNC) employee whose 2016 murder in D.C. led to speculation that he had been involved in the leak of a cache of DNC emails dumped by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.
“It is … [ordered] that the Government … shall recommend to the court a timeline for the disclosure of information on Seth Rich’s personal laptop, [and] Seth Rich’s work laptop,” among other pieces of evidence, ruled U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant on Monday.
The ruling came in response to a Freedom of Information Act case between the FBI and a Texas plaintiff, Brian Huddleston.
In September 2022, the court ruled in favor of Huddleston, saying that the FBI had to produce any information it had related to Rich’s laptop. However, the FBI delayed, asking for clarification.
Some conspiracy theorists speculated that Rich’s laptops and emails might contain information related to the WikiLeaks dump of the DNC emails.
Hillary Clinton and her allies claimed that the dump had come from a Russia-linked hack of her files, but some conservatives and hardcore conspiracy theorists claim that the information on Rich’s laptop, who they believe downloaded the files, would disprove the Russia argument. And that the Clintons had him killed as vengeance.
Rich’s parents wrote a 2017 column in the Washington Post where they said there wasn’t any credence to the idea he’d been involved in the DNC hack.
“We know that Seth’s personal email and his personal computer were both inspected by detectives early in the investigation and that the inspection revealed no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with WikiLeaks,” they wrote in the column.
But other conspiracy theories alleged the files may have been downloaded onto his work computer, which he could have also used to communicate with WikiLeaks.
After the court ruled that the FBI had to produce any documents it had related to Rich’s computer, the FBI filed a motion questioning whether they meant his personal or work laptop.
The FBI also claimed they’d found additional items stored in the same evidence control room as the work laptop, including a DVD, a tape drive, a letter from a third party, two chain of custody forms, and a report that documented how that third party imaged the laptop.
The court ruled that the government had improperly withheld information from Huddleston, who made the FOIA request, when it came to Rich’s work laptop, the DVD, the tape drive, as well as a CD with images of Rich’s personal laptop, and ruled that they would have to produce an index of the material contained on those items, as well as a timeline for disclosure for the information contained on them.
The FBI now must begin processing this information within 14 days, according to the court.
Ty Clevenger, the attorney who represented Huddleston in the case, tweeted on Monday that he’d reached out to Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) Weaponization of the Federal Government Committee in late August about the case but hadn’t heard any word.
“So far, they’re not interested in Seth Rich,” he said.
Given their now seven-year obsession with Rich, conspiracy theorists jumped on the news.
Matt Couch, who was forced to settle a defamation suit with the Rich family over his accusations and issue an apology, cheered the news.
“Huge Shout Out to Ty Clevenger, One of my amazing attorneys and friends!!! He never wavered and has fought with me and others for the truth for almost a decade now. We love you brother, thanks for always fighting for the voiceless! Eden, my amazing attorney as well deserves a shout out. These two men are American Heroes, make sure you’re following these two American badasses!” Couch wrote.
Others, like Liz Crokin, used the news to help further push the newly revitalized Pizzagate conspiracy, which stemmed from a speculative analysis of Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta’s leaked emails.
“There’s evidence that Rich — who went by the name Panda in anonymous online chats — was the source [for WikiLeaks]. That means Rich exposed Pizzagate and we never would’ve learned about it if it was not for his sacrifice. Time is up for the Deep State! Nothing will stop the truth about Seth Rich and Pizzagate from coming out. Crimes against children will unite humanity, and mass exposure of Pizzagate will be the final death blow that ends the Satanic pedophile cabal,” Crokin wrote.