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Murdered DNC staffer's brother is going after conspiracy theorists in court

Seth Rich was murdered. Then a host of conspiracy theories were born.

The brother of a slain Democratic National Committee staffer is suing a handful of conservative activists and news outlets for peddling conspiracy theories about the still-unsolved murder.

Seth Rich was killed in Washington, D.C. on July 10, 2016, during the heat of the presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and Rich’s family believe his death was a robbery gone wrong, but the case hasn’t been solved yet. The unsolved murder quickly became fodder for far-right media activist conspiracy theorists, who claimed that Seth had been killed over Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails — and that Seth’s brother was involved as well.


In the aftermath of Seth’s death, their attention flipped to Aaron, a defense contractor with a background in information technology. The Washington Times, among others, proffered his work history as hard evidence that he had worked with his brother to steal DNC documents and leak them to WikiLeaks. They also alleged that Aaron knew in advance that his brother was going to be murdered, but did nothing to stop it, covered up his involvement, and obstructed justice by refusing to give this information to law enforcement.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Aaron accuses Ed Butowsky, Matt Couch, America First Media, and The Washington Times of acting "with reckless disregard for the truth."

“For nearly a year, Defendants Ed Butowsky, Matt Couch, and America First Media have relentlessly preyed upon Aaron Rich's family tragedy to enrich themselves, promote their own celebrity, and advance their political agenda,” Aaron Rich’s attorney Michael Gottlieb said in an emailed statement. “They have spent the past year creating and disseminating a false conspiracy theory that Aaron Rich was the technological know-how behind, and financial beneficiary of, a joint operation with Seth Rich that led to Seth's murder… And just when they felt that they were not getting enough attention, the Washington Times helped move their conspiracy from the media fringes into the mainstream. The Defendants are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to spread vicious lies about an innocent man.”

Among the evidence cited in the suit is a periscope video hosted by Couch, in which he and Butowsky discuss Aaron taking money from Wikileaks, despite offering no proof that he did.

In response to Aaron’s suit, Butowsky told CNN, "I have nothing else to say, other than how many more family members do the Riches have that want to sue me?"

Aaron’s lawsuit comes just weeks after his parents filed their own suit against Fox News and Butowsky, alleging the cable network intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the family when it published a story in May peddling a conspiracy theory about Seth Rich’s death.

Cover image: WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 4: Mary Rich, the mother of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich, gives a press conference in Bloomingdale on August 1, 2016. Seth Rich was gunned down in the DC neighborhood a month ago and the Rich's were imploring people for any information they may have about his killer. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)