WASHINGTON – A year before presidential candidates would be chosen to represent their parties in the 2016 election, murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich expressed concerns about the integrity of ballots before a panel of election-commission officials in a forum captured on video.
In video posted on YouTube Thursday, Rich questioned a panel of commission officials during a 2015 Election Data Summit about why ballots are rejected or cast as provisional.
“I think some of you had spoken about provisional ballots and rejected ballots – I guess we have looked at, as an outside practitioner with a vested interest in training our voters, how do we get better access to data that tells us why ballots are rejected – why ballots are cast as provisional – so that we can analyze that and develop better training guides?”
— Philip Schuyler (@FiveRights) June 8, 2017
Rich, who worked as the voter-expansion data director at the DNC for two years, was killed in 2016 in a shooting not far from his Washington residence. His homicide case appears to be growing cold, as the Washington police maintain that he was killed during a botched robbery, despite the fact he was found with his wallet in his pocket, credit cards, phone, necklace and other valuables in his possession.
But WikiLeaks began releasing documents – DNC emails – 12 days after Rich’s murder that would reveal a plot within the Democratic Party to ensure Hillary Clinton would be nominated over Sen. Bernie Sanders.
And WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange insinuated the following month, in August 2016, that the slain DNC staffer was one of his sources and insisted that Rich’s murder had nothing to do with a robbery.
“Our whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, and often very significant risks as a 27-year-old that works for the DNC who was shot in the back – murdered just two weeks ago for unknown reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington,” Assange said in an interview last August.
“We have to understand how high the stakes are in the United States and that our sources are – our sources face serious risks. That is why they come to us, so that we can protect their anonymity,” he continued.
WikiLeaks issued a $20,000 reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of Rich last August.
Kim Dotcom, a tech mogul with close ties to WikiLeaks, has alleged Rich was the source of the leaked DNC emails and claimed that he, Kim Dotcom, was part of an operation along with Rich to get stolen DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
Last week, Dotcom’s lawyers wrote a letter to the DOJ asking for him to be allowed to testify about Seth Rich’s murder without being detained. The tech entrepreneur from New Zealand faces extradition to the U.S. on a litany of unrelated charges, including copyright infringement and money laundering.
Dotcom claims Rich first contacted him online in 2014, using the Internet moniker “Panda” – known to be the DNC staffer’s favorite animal. He has provided three email addresses that he says belonged to Rich: Seth.firstname.lastname@example.org, Panda4Progress@gmail.com and Pandas4Bernie@gmail.com. The addresses pointed to social media and Reddit accounts that appeared to back up the claims that he may have been a disgruntled Sanders supporter.
Conservative author Ann Coulter, in an interview with radio host Mark Simone on Thursday, argued that there is more evidence to substantiate that Rich leaked DNC emails than there is proof that Russia and Trump colluded to hack the DNC.
“There’s no evidence that Russia hacked the DNC – none,” Coulter said. “We know that Mexico, for example, massively interferes in our election. Never hear a peep about that. All sorts of countries try to interfere in our election and that’s never been an issue. And still there is no evidence that Russia is the one that hacked the DNC. And that’s why there was all that hysteria over Seth Rich.
“It is a fact that it was a DNC official that was murdered,” she continued. “Do not imagine this was Russia hacking into voting machines or who knows what else. It was the production of the John Podesta emails and various others, showing that the DNC had it in for Bernie Sanders. That is what the allegation is. There is no evidence that Russia did it, and Julian Assange who runs WikiLeaks himself hinted that it was, specifically, Seth Rich. There is a fair amount of evidence that it was a Bernie Sanders supporter within the DNC, ticked off that the DNC was tainting the Democrats’ possibilities of beating the Republican that year. Not an implausible thought since that is exactly what happened.”
Jack Burkman, the head of a private investigative team in Washington, D.C., that has been trying to solve Rich’s the murder, has insisted that officials with the Metropolitan Police Department are deliberately withholding information about Rich’s case from the public and have been directed to stop the investigation by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“The police have shut down all full operations,” Burkman told WND. “The police are not cooperating with us or anyone, which is sad. This has become a very systematic and deliberate effort by the D.C. police and the mayor to end the Seth Rich investigation.”
The Metropolitan Police Department disputed these allegations, warning that the department does “not entertain conspiracy theories and does not engage with conspiracy theorists.”
Responding to claims that Bowser instructed the Metropolitan Police Department to stop investigating Rich’s murder, the mayor’s office insisted to WND that Rich was killed in an attempted robbery.
Rod Wheeler, a former detective who was initially hired by Rich’s family to find his killer, told WND that police were instructed to withhold information from him about Rich’s case by former DNC chair and CNN contributor Donna Brazile.
Twitter subsequently suspended WND for 12 hours for revealing Brazile reportedly panicked over the private investigation into Rich’s death.
Rich’s questions to the election commission took place months before the New York City’s Board of Elections stripped 126,000 Democratic Party voters from the rolls. The Bernie Sanders’ campaign called reports of the voting irregularities in the state “a disgrace.”
The leak of DNC documents, which evidenced how some DNC officials sought to undermine Sanders in the party primary, prompted disgruntled Sanders supporters to file class-action lawsuits against the Democratic National Committee and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman for rigging the election.
Harvard law expert Jared Beck, who filed the lawsuit, Wilding et al vs. DNC Services Corporation and Deborah “Debbie” Wasserman-Schultz, on behalf of residents of 45 states against the DNC and its former chairwoman, is demanding the party repay individuals and Sanders supporters for contributions made during the election, alleging misappropriation of funds.
“If we can’t trust the two political parties to run an election in a fair manner, who can we trust?” Beck told Fox News.
Article 5, Section 4 of the Democratic Party charter specifies that it will operate with total impartiality during Democratic Party primaries. DNC lawyer Bruce Spiva argued during an April 25 hearing that the promise was non-binding and the party is not bound by pledges of fairness.
“We could have voluntarily decided that, ‘Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.’ That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right,” Spiva asserted. “And there’s no right to not have your candidate disadvantaged or have another candidate advantaged. There’s no contractual obligation here.”
The law firm representing Sanders supporters in the class-action lawsuit against DNC and Wasserman Schultz filed a notice to the United States federal court on June 1, alleging the office of Wasserman Schultz called the law firm inquiring about the case using a “robotic and genderless” voice-changing device – but she reportedly forgot to disable caller ID.