Rich et al v. Fox News Network LLC et al

Exhibit C

Southern District of New York, nysd-1:2018-cv-02223

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EXHIBIT C Page 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ------------------------------ AARON RICH * Plaintiff, * v. * Case No. Civil Action 1:18-cv-00681-RJL EDWARD BUTOWSKY, * MATTHEW COUCH, and AMERICA FIRST MEDIA, * Defendants. * ------------------------------- VIDEOTAPED DEPOSITION OF: ROD WHEELER, taken on Monday, November 18, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., held at the offices of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP, 1875 K Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20006, before Goldy Gold, a Registered Professional Reporter and a Notary Public within and for the District of Columbia. Reported by: Goldy Gold, RPR Job No. 523974 Page 70 Page 72 1 robbery, one of them are going to know -- somebody is 1 paragraph that is relevant to this, if you turn ahead 2 going to know, girlfriend of one of -- somebody is 2 to page 27 -- no, 25, paragraph 101 in your 3 going to know on the street. That's how you solve 3 complaint. 4 cases on the street, but he was upset about that. 4 You've alleged here: "At all relevant 5 Q. Do you understand why Mr. Butowsky was 5 times, Butowsky intended that Mr. Wheeler's 6 upset about that? 6 investigation would provide the proof he and 7 A. Now I do. 7 Zimmerman had hoped would show that the Russians were 8 Q. Why is that? 8 not responsible for hacking the DNC e-mails given to 9 A. Well, because I believe he was upset 9 WikiLeaks. 10 about that because that's not the narrative he wanted 10 "Butowsky told Mr. Wheeler that he would 11 -- he wanted. He wanted me to go down this path of 11 be working on the investigation and going through 12 the e-mail thing and tie it into this political thing 12 Butowsky in order to provide any information to 13 as far as this Russian hacking, which I have no 13 Zimmerman." 14 interest in whatsoever. That's what wanted me to do. 14 Is that accurate? 15 He should have told me that upfront. If 15 A. That's correct. 16 he would have told me that upfront, then I would have 16 Q. So Ed was running the show here? 17 had the option at that point to say, Yes, I'm 17 A. Yes. 18 interested or no, I'm not. He never gave me that 18 Q. And Mr. Butowsky expected you to come to 19 option. 19 him first with information? 20 And I'll tell you why that's 20 A. That's correct. 21 significant, Mike, is because I've learned since all 21 Q. And he -- do I interpret the first 22 of this stuff has been going on, that Butowsky had 22 sentence here to say that Mr. Butowsky was only 23 conversations with people like Ellen Ratner about 23 interested in you providing one kind of information 24 this whole case in e-mails, and he never shared any 24 to him? 25 of that with me. 25 A. In my opinion, yes. Page 71 Page 73 1 If you had conversations and you got 1 Q. And what kind of information was that? 2 this information -- and this has come out, I'm sure 2 A. That was information -- not even 3 you've seen it -- about Ellen Ratner telling you all 3 providing information, but supporting his belief that 4 this about WikiLeaks, why didn't you tell me that 4 the murder had something to do with WikiLeaks. 5 upfront if you know I'm the investigator? Why would 5 Q. His theory? 6 you withhold that information? 6 A. His theory or belief, yeah. That's what 7 He said Joel Rich knew about the whole 7 he wanted me for, and I know that now. Hindsight is 8 thing with Ellen Ratner. Joel Rich never mentioned 8 20/20, but I know that now. 9 that to me. 9 Q. Okay. If you take a look at 10 Q. So -- just so I'm clear about a couple 10 paragraph 92 on page 24 of your complaint, there is a 11 of things you said there. If I understand you 11 description of a meeting that took place with 12 correctly you, Mr. Butowsky was upset with you 12 Mr. Butowsky and Ms. Zimmerman on February 28, 2017. 13 because you were trying to identity leads to 13 Is that paragraph accurate? 14 determine who had shot or murdered Seth Rich; is that 14 A. That's correct. 15 correct? 15 Q. Do you recall having that meeting with 16 A. That's correct. 16 Ms. Zimmerman and Mr. Butowsky? 17 Q. You also said Mr. Butowsky told you that 17 A. Yes. 18 Joel Rich knew about the whole thing with 18 Q. Did you know that Ms. Zimmerman was 19 Ellen Ratner? 19 going to be at that meeting before you went to meet 20 A. No, no. This was afterwards, like this 20 Mr. Butowsky? 21 past year when it all came out in the news -- 21 A. No. It was Ms. Zimmerman, and there was 22 Q. I see. 22 another guy. 23 A. -- when I learned about that. That's 23 Q. There was someone else besides 24 the first I even heard about Ellen Ratner. 24 Ms. Zimmerman with Mr. Butowsky? 25 Q. Okay. So, let me show you one other 25 A. Yes. 19 (Pages 70 to 73) Page 74 Page 76 1 Q. Who was -- do you know who that other 1 A. Yes. 2 person was? 2 Q. Where did the meeting take place? 3 A. I don't remember the guy's name, but we 3 A. In the Capitol Hill Club. 4 are connected on LinkedIn. 4 (Reporter clarification.) 5 Q. Okay. Was it someone associated with 5 THE WITNESS: I'm sorry, the Capital 6 Fox? 6 Hill Club, also known as the Republican club on 7 A. No. This was a guy who was a former 7 Capitol Hill. 8 military guy. I think he had something to do with 8 BY MR. GOTTLIEB: 9 Benghazi because he never talked much. The only 9 Q. What do you remember about that meeting? 10 reason I say we are connected on LinkedIn -- and I'll 10 A. We didn't meet there I don't believe. I 11 try to find his name on LinkedIn -- is because after 11 don't think it was this time that we met there. I 12 the meeting, he e-mailed me or he connected with me 12 think it was so crowded that we decided to go up the 13 on LinkedIn and said, It was really pleasure of 13 street to a Mexican restaurant. 14 meeting you, let's connect on LinkedIn. That's the 14 Q. Okay. Let me show you -- take a look 15 last I ever heard of this guy. 15 back at the complaint in paragraph 92, there's a 16 But he was -- I think he was like a 16 description of -- of the meeting. 17 Hispanic guy, if I recall. He didn't talk much at 17 A. Yeah. 18 the meeting, but he just sat there. But he had 18 Q. I'm less concerned about the physical 19 something to do with Benghazi I believe. 19 place you were in. 20 Q. Okay. You understood him to have some 20 A. Sure. 21 connection to the work that Butowsky and 21 Q. I'm more interested in -- 22 Ms. Zimmerman had done -- 22 A. The content of the meeting. 23 A. Previously. 23 Q. What -- what did you all discuss when 24 Q. -- on Benghazi? Do you have an 24 you met with Mr. Butowsky and Ms. Zimmerman and this 25 understanding of the work that Mr. Butowsky did on 25 third gentleman, whoever the third gentleman was? Page 75 Page 77 1 Benghazi? 1 What did you all discuss? 2 A. I don't. 2 A. Well, first of all, Butowsky introduced 3 Q. Do you have any -- any recollection of 3 me to Malia Zimmerman because I had never met Malia 4 Mr. Butowsky pursuing a theory about a stand-down 4 before, and she told me that she was an investigative 5 order with respect to Benghazi -- 5 reporter, and, you know, she went through all the 6 A. No. 6 people that she knows for Fox, and basically that was 7 Q. -- or ever read anything about that or 7 it. And then I was going to be investigating -- she 8 heard anything about? 8 knew I was going to be investigating the case. 9 A. No, I never had -- I never had any 9 And the reason she was involved is 10 interest in Benghazi or the Russian hacking case. I 10 because she can help provide the support that I 11 just never had any interest. 11 needed with, like, information on people and things 12 Q. Do you know if Mr. Butowsky ever made 12 like that, using, like, Fox's what they call brain 13 any business deals or any money off of his work on 13 room. 14 Benghazi? 14 So my interpretation of that meeting was 15 A. No. 15 that I'm working with this Fox reporter on behalf the 16 Q. If you look at the text chain between 16 family to try to find out who killed Seth Rich. 17 you and Mr. Butowsky, the page with the Bates number 17 Q. Okay. 18 WHEELER640? 18 A. That's why I was so surprising when he 19 A. Yes. 19 said, When you talk to Joel, don't bring up Malia and 20 Q. Do you see a discussion there related -- 20 play her name -- don't bring up her name, and I 21 with Mr. Butowsky relating to the meeting you were 21 always thought to myself, Why. 22 having with him on February 28th? 22 Q. Let's just look at that quickly since we 23 A. Yes. 23 we've brought it up again, which is -- I'll direct -- 24 Q. Do you see a reference to where the 24 in the text chain -- 25 meeting would take place? 25 A. Right. 20 (Pages 74 to 77) Page 206 Page 208 1 Butowsky and Adam Housley about an investigation, 1 information because they have access to a lot of 2 apart from the Seth Rich investigation? 2 databases. 3 A. No. 3 And that's why I shared the name with 4 Q. Let me go to Wheeler 206. 4 her, so she could find out what she could for me 5 [Exhibit 37, e-mail, was marked for 5 about this guy, because I wanted to talk to him. 6 identification.] 6 Q. What -- what resources -- to the best of 7 BY MR. GOTTLIEB: 7 your understanding, what resources does the Fox brain 8 Q. I'm handing you what has been marked as 8 room have available to it? 9 Exhibit 37, a document bearing the Bates number 9 A. I don't know specifically what all they 10 Wheeler 206. It appears to be a e-mail from Aaron 10 have, but I do know that they have access to a lot of 11 Rich to you on March 30th, 2017, at 3:35 p.m. 11 databases, because that's how they get a lot of the 12 Do you recognize this document? 12 information that they use for their stories, you 13 A. Yes, I do. 13 know, through their own research and things like that 14 Q. What is this document? 14 about a lot of cases, not just this case, but a lot 15 A. This is an e-mail that I received from 15 of cases. 16 Aaron Rich. The subject is "Seth Rich Friend." 16 So she -- she could check with the brain 17 Q. And so what is Mr. Rich communicating to 17 room to see what came up regarding this particular 18 you here? 18 guy's name. 19 A. I was trying to find out who were some 19 Q. And do you recall what, if anything, 20 of the people that Seth Rich spoke with the night of 20 came up about this lead? 21 his murder, or obviously prior to his murder. And I 21 A. I don't believe, to the best of my 22 cannot get ahold of their cell phones. 22 recollection today, Mike, that anything came out of 23 So I asked Aaron if he would provide to 23 it. I never spoke with the guy, I don't think. I 24 me some of the names of the people that Seth Rich had 24 don't think I ever talked to him. Could I have? I 25 talked to right before he was murdered, to try to get 25 guess it's possible, but today I don't remember if I Page 207 Page 209 1 a clue, and he -- this is one name he did provide to 1 did or not. 2 me. 2 Q. Okay. Let me show you a document from 3 Q. Okay. And so this was at 3:35 p.m. on 3 the next day, Wheeler 216. 4 the 30th? 4 Handing you what has been marked as 5 A. Yes. 5 Exhibit 39. It is a document bearing the Bates 6 Q. Let me show you the next document, 6 numbers Wheeler 216. This appears to be an e-mail 7 Wheeler 209. And this is a document that's been 7 from Mr. Butowsky to you and Ms. Zimmerman on 8 marked as Exhibit 38, with the Bates number Wheeler 8 March 31st. 9 209. 9 [Exhibit 39, e-mail, was marked for 10 [Exhibit 38, e-mail, was marked for 10 identification.] 11 identification.] 11 BY MR. GOTTLIEB: 12 BY MR. GOTTLIEB: 12 Q. Do you recognize this e-mail? 13 Q. It appears to be an e-mail from you to 13 A. Yes, I do. 14 Malia Zimmerman and Mr. Butowsky at 3:45 p.m. on the 14 Q. What is this e-mail? 15 same day as the document that we looked at in 15 A. This is an e-mail -- it's -- the 16 Exhibit 37. 16 subject -- there's no subject. It's from Ed Butowsky 17 Do you recognize this document? 17 to Malia Zimmerman, and it just basically says, "I 18 A. It looks like an e-mail conversation 18 agree. Let's see if Kelsey has something for us, and 19 between several peo