Remember the Seth Rich conspiracy stories? Back in the summer of 2016, the 27-year-old staffer for the Democratic National Committee was killed in his DC neighborhood in what police say was a botched robbery. But a wild theory quickly emerged on the right, alleging that assassins working on behalf of Hillary Clinton killed Rich. Why? As the theory goes, he was the source of leaked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, and he planned to talk more to the FBI about Clinton corruption. Now, a Yahoo News investigation says it has uncovered the source of the bogus allegations: Russia. Just three days after Rich's death, "Russia's foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony 'bulletin'—disguised to read as a real intelligence report," writes Michael Isikoff. That "bulletin" first raised the idea of a Clinton hit squad.
From there it spread to the fringe right on sites such as Infowars, helped along by continuing reports by Russia-owned media outlets RT and Sputnik. Eventually, Fox News began playing it up, though the network eventually retracted the story. White House figures such as Steve Bannon also pushed it. In a text to a 60 Minutes producer, Bannon asserted that Rich "was a Bernie [Sanders] guy ... it was a contract kill, obviously," reports Yahoo. A key figure quoted in the investigation is Deborah Sines, a now-retired former assistant US attorney who had been in charge of the case. In her view, Russia concocted the story because it wanted to hide its own role in leaking the Democratic documents. "It's not rocket science," she says. The idea was, “Let's blame it on Seth Rich. He's a very convenient target." Click to read the full story, which includes a link to a related podcast. (Read more Seth Rich stories.)