[T] he narrative in the interviews you might use is that you and [Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman's] work prove that the Russians didn't hack into the DNC and steal the emails and impact our elections....
Wheeler, a former Washington, DC homicide detective, accuses Butowsky of being in regular contact with a handful of Trump officials - former press secretary Sean Spicer, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Sarah Flores, the Justice Department's director of public affairs - in the months leading up to the Fox story.
Fox's president of news, Jay Wallace, told NPR, who broke the story, that there was no "concrete evidence" that Wheeler was misquoted in the story. The suit also quotes from an alleged voicemail from Butowsky to Wheeler saying, "A couple minutes ago I got a note that we have the full attention of the White House, on this".
Jay Wallace, President of News at Fox News, called the allegation that Fox published the story to distract from the Russian Federation investigation "completely erroneous".
Now, in the lawsuit filed Tuesday, which Mic obtained and reviewed, Wheeler claims his quotes were fabricated by Zimmerman and Butowsky to advance a pro-Trump political agenda, and that his reputation has been ruined as a result.
A text message that Ed Butowsky allegedly sent to Rod Wheeler. Wheeler initially appeared on Washington Fox affiliate WTTG-TV to discuss the story, but later told CNN he had no evidence to support the claim.
"One day you're going to win an award for having said those things you didn't say", he said.
"I never talked to anybody at the White House", Butowsky told CNN. In a May 16 article that was later retracted, the quotes attributed to Wheeler suggested that Rich had communicated with WikiLeaks before his death.
If you click the first link up top, you'll see I did a short profile of Butowsky back in 2009. He investigated the case but claims that the network inaccurately reported his findings as implicating Rich because "that is the way the President wanted the article".
Butowsky did not immediately comment to CNBC for this article. He said he is not aware of any contact with the president. He also claims the entire process took place with the knowledge of the White House.
"Very shortly after the article was published, Mr. Wheeler called Butowsky and demanded an explanation for the false statements about him in Zimmerman's article", says the wide-ranging damages seeking and jury demanding complaint by lawyer Douglas Wigdor for Rod Wheeler (read it here).
Now comes more intrigue, as former Sputnik News White House correspondent, Andrew Feinberg, made an announcement which seems, at least on the surface, to implicate Vladimir Putin himself as one of the conspirators in creating and pushing the Seth Rich story.