Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani promoted discredited conspiracy theories about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich on Twitter early Monday morning, further fueling the baseless speculation that has anguished Rich’s grieving family.
Giuliani quote-tweeted a tweet from conspiracy theorist Matt Couch, whose fevered claims about Rich’s 2016 murder provoked a defamation lawsuit from Rich’s brother. In his tweet, Couch pointed out that, while Washington, D.C. police believe that Rich was murdered in a currently unsolved botched robbery attempt, none of his belongings appear to have been taken by his killer.
Speaking rhetorically from Rich’s point of view, Couch pointed to popular conspiracy theorist talking points about Rich’s murder.
“I was Shot multiple times in torso.. I worked for the DNC….” Couch tweeted. “They called it a botched robbery and sue anyone who investigates it..Who am I?”
“I’d like to know,” Giuliani added in his own tweet.
Rich’s July 2016 murder has inspired a number of conspiracy theories claiming that he leaked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, and then was murdered by Hillary Clinton or the “deep state” in retaliation.
That idea, which isn’t backed up by any evidence, has been embraced by some Trump supporters—including Fox News host Sean Hannity—because it would mean the emails were released by a whistleblower, rather than by Russian government hackers. In reality, Rich’s neighborhood had experienced a series of robberies in the lead-up to his death, which led police to believe it was likely a botched robbery.
In text messages with The Daily Beast, Giuliani insisted his tweet wasn’t meant to promote any conspiracy theories but merely to ask questions about Rich’s murder, which has remained unsolved.
“I didn’t support any conspiracy theory,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast in a text message. “I raised several nagging coincidences.”
“I vaguely remember it and was asking a question about whether it was ever investigated fully,” Giuliani added. “Don’t remember if it was ever solved? Was it.”
After this article was published, Giuliani doubled down on his speculation and accused The Daily Beast of lacking “proper seductive reasoning.”
“Either you haven’t been trained in proper seductive [sic] reasoning or the most truthful explanation is irrelevant,” Giuliani wrote in a text message.
Giuliani added that the media reaction to the conspiracy theorists made him more suspicious about the case.
“Another new area of suspicion beyond a possible murder of convenience is the overreaction you all have to anyone raising any question about this unsolved murder,” Giuliani wrote. “‘Me thinks the Lady Protests too Much?’”
Rich’s family has repeatedly asked conspiracy theorists to stop speculating about their son’s murder, which has drawn in a number of publicity-seeking right-wing media figures. But in text messages to The Daily Beast, Giuliani said “legitimate questions” about Rich’s murder shouldn’t be off-limits because of “some degree of emotional pain.”
“It is tragic for the family but if we stopped all honicide [sic] investigations until solved because it will cause pain then it would leave many unsolved,” Giuliani wrote. “There are legitimate questions here and the more they are suppressed with this media Hillary/oriented censorship the more the conspiracy theorists thrive.”
Giuliani, a former U.S. Attorney, said he wanted to look at the “parties with the greatest motivation.”
“I’ve done a number of very complex investigation [sic] and you must always look at the parties or parties with the greatest motivation and the most to gain or lose,” Giuliani wrote. “Until a murder is conclusively solved that is always a viable hypothesis. Political censorship or even some degree of emotional pain can not suppress trying to solve an open homicide.”
Rich’s family has repeatedly asked conspiracy theorists to stop speculating about their son’s murder, which has drawn in a number of publicity-seeking right-wing media figures.
Couch, who livestreams his conspiracy theory broadcasts to his fans online, is one of the most dedicated promoters of the Rich claims, despite reports that Russian intelligence agents spread the rumor that Rich’s murder was somehow tied to the Democratic email releases.
In 2018, Couch was sued for defamation by Rich’s brother Aaron Rich, over his claims that Seth had helped to steal Democratic emails and received payment from WikiLeaks for the files. Earlier this month, Couch told a federal judge that he couldn’t afford legal defense to continue fighting the case, and said he had removed mentions of Rich from his website.
This story has been updated with Giuliani’s responses following its publication.