WASHINGTON – Detectives leading the Seth Rich murder investigation agreed to meet with Capitol Hill investigators probing a major Democratic IT scandal to discuss evidence surrounding the alleged hacking of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential election, a private eye claims.
But the Metropolitan Police Department canceled its meeting with Capitol Police just hours before it was scheduled to take place, according to former Washington, D.C., homicide detective Rod Wheeler.
Wheeler, who previously worked as the Rich family’s private investigator, told WND he had arranged the meeting between members of the Capitol Police leading the Imran Awan investigation and members of the MPD probing the unsolved murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
‘Why would they cancel?’
Wheeler claims a thorough investigation of the Awan brothers may reveal more information about Rich’s murder, the 2016 email breach of the Democratic National Committee and the Awan family.
“I’ve been following the arrest of Awan – this is a guy whose name came up a couple of times in my investigation as someone that I should look at,” he said in a phone call to WND Wednesday. “I never really got a chance to look at them in the investigation – but what I did do – I met with the Capitol Hill investigators.
“I thought they should meet with D.C. police regarding the Seth Rich case because I thought they may find some correlation between the two things that they were doing,” he continued. “Hill investigators were very interested in meeting with D.C. police – they had never met with them pertaining to the Seth Rich case. The D.C. police detective was very interested in meeting with the Hill investigators.”
The Capitol Police and the MPD hadn’t returned WND’s requests for comment at the time of this report.
“The MPD detective didn’t give me any explanation as to why. He just said, ‘Rod, I am going to need to cancel that meeting,’” Wheeler explained. “I don’t know why they canceled. I do have some suspicions, but I don’t want to speculate. I am always hesitant to speculate because they hang you out to dry when you do.”
He added: “I’ve always wondered in the back of my mind, ‘Why would they cancel at the last minute?’”
Awan had access to DNC emails during WikiLeaks dump
As WND reported, federal agents arrested Imran Awan, the IT aide of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the top suspect in a major Democratic hacking scandal, at Dulles Airport in Virginia as he tried to flee the U.S. Tuesday and fly to the Mideast.
Awan’s arrest came just one day after reports emerged that the FBI had seized numerous “smashed hard drives” and other computer equipment from Awan’s previous residence. The former House IT staffer is suspected of stealing sensitive information from the office computers of numerous Democratic Party lawmakers and sending that data to a secret server.
Awan and his family members, all of whom worked as IT professionals for members of Congress, were banned from the House network Feb. 2, 2017, by the House Sergeant at Arms.
Despite the rapidly escalating scandal that potentially involves multiple federal crimes, Awan had been kept on the payroll of former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who circumvented the ban by having him “advise” her office.
In the wake of WikiLeaks posting damaging internal emails during the 2016 election, Wasserman Schultz resigned from her post as DNC chairwoman and blamed the scandal on an alleged hacking by Russians.
After the emails became public, Donna Brazile, who served as interim DNC chairwoman following Wasserman Schultz’s resignation, initially claimed the messages were fabricated. Then she alleged Russians stole the emails.
The FBI requested access to the DNC’s server to determine who was responsible for the breach. According to former FBI Director James Comey, the DNC refused to grant access to its server.
Awan reportedly possessed the password to the iPad Wasserman Schultz used when the DNC emails were provided to WikiLeaks.
Meanwhile, some have speculated that Rich – who worked in the voter analysis division of the DNC and was brutally murdered on July 10, 2016, on a street near his Washington home – was an inside source who leaked party insider emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential race.
In an August 2016 interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared to suggest that Rich was one of his sources.
On July 22, just 12 days after Rich’s death and days before the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks began publishing “44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments” from top DNC officials. Some of the emails showed DNC officials conspiring to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and help secure the party nomination for Hillary Clinton.
Did Rich attend an IT party on night of his death?
During the course of his investigation of Rich’s mysterious murder, Wheeler claims, he learned something peculiar that he hadn’t heard before: Rich attended a party with numerous IT workers the night he was killed. After the party, Rich went to Lou’s City Bar, the last known location where he was seen before his murder.
Wheeler said he was determined to learn more about the IT party and who was in attendance, but all his questions have gone unanswered.
“Seth attended that party, and I wanted to know who else was at that party. But I could never find out,” Wheeler said. “When I went back to ask other people who should have known who was at that party – these were people who were close to Seth – they told me, ‘You don’t need to know who was at that party because it had nothing to do with his death.’”
Uncovering more details about the attendees of the party is essential in the Rich homicide investigation, Wheeler contends.
“He was at the party before he went to the bar. What you do in a murder investigation is you work backward. You want to trace the victim’s steps as far back as you can – who was that person around the day before? – as far back as you can,” he said. “What was interesting is when I am told as an investigator that I don’t need to talk to people who were at the party. It makes you wonder why.”
DNC’s Brazile asked cops why Wheeler was ‘snooping’ in Rich case
Wheeler told WND in May that the MPD withheld information from him pertaining to Rich’s murder after former DNC interim chairwoman Donna Brazile called police to ask why investigators were “snooping” into Rich’s slaying.
A manager at Lou’s City Bar told WND that police never interviewed the bar’s staff or requested evidence, such as footage from security cameras. And police also never questioned Rich’s DNC co-workers.
As WND has reported, Jack Burkman, head of a team of private investigators in D.C. working to find Rich’s killers, claimed the MPD was instructed by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for political reasons to stop investigating Rich’s murder. The MPD and the mayor’s office disputed Burkman’s allegations.
The total reward for solving Rich’s murder currently stands at approximately a half-million dollars. Yet, the DNC has offered no reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer of its own young staffer. Instead, the DNC honored its murdered employee by dedicating a bike rack outside its headquarters to Rich’s memory.
The Rich family’s attitude toward Wheeler, he claimed, changed dramatically after Democratic political crisis consultant Brad Bauman became their spokesman. Rich’s family threatened legal action against Wheeler in May after he told a Fox affiliate that he believed police were covering up details about the crime. An attorney representing the family sent Wheeler a cease-and-desist letter on May 19.
Wheeler said he’s uncertain when he’ll be allowed to reveal his report on Rich’s murder, but he is perplexed that Rich’s family has never expressed interest in the report’s findings.
“The cease-and-desist order does not have an expiration date. I don’t know if it’s set up for life or what,” he said. “The family has never asked for my final report. Why not? That’s interesting. Why wouldn’t they ask their investigator, ‘Give us a copy of the report and let us see what’s in it’?”