The bureau also has tens of thousands of documents mentioning Rich.
The FBI “has completed the initial search identifying approximately 50 cross-reference serials, with attachments totaling over 20,000 pages, in which Seth Rich is mentioned,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Parker wrote in the message to attorney Ty Clevenger, who is representing a plaintiff in Huddleston v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, a case dealing with a Freedom of Information Act request to the bureau.
“FBI has also located leads that indicate additional potential records that require further searching,” Parker added.
The Epoch Times confirmed the email is legitimate.
Parker, who is representing the FBI in the case, didn’t respond to an email or return a voicemail.
The bureau also confirmed it has files from Rich’s laptop and suggested it still has the computer in its possession.
The bureau is “currently working on getting the files from Seth Rich’s personal laptop into a format to be reviewed,” Parker said in the email. She also said the FBI plans on undertaking some level of review of the computer.
The disclosure came as part of a case brought in federal court by Texas resident Brian Huddleston, who filed a Freedom of Information Act request in April asking the FBI to produce all data, documents, records, or communications that reference Seth Rich or his brother, Aaron Rich.
The FBI told the plaintiff in June that it would take 8 to 10 months to provide a final response to the request, prompting the filing of the case in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Rich was working for the DNC when he was shot and killed in Washington on July 10, 2016. The murder remains unsolved.
The new email bolsters a key charge in Huddleston’s filing: that David Hardy, the FBI’s records chief, was wrong when he said in two affidavits that the FBI searched for records pertaining to Rich but could not find any.
The first sign that the testimony was erroneous came earlier this year when the nonprofit watchdog Judicial Watch received emails exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Department of Justice lawyer Lisa Page. The production included several emails mentioning Rich.
Another sign came in March, when former Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines was deposed in a separate case, Ed Butowsky v. David Folkenflik et. al.
Sines testified that the FBI conducted an investigation into possible hacking attempts on Seth Rich’s electronic accounts following his murder. She said FBI agents examined Rich’s laptop as part of the probe and that a search should uncover emails between her and FBI personnel. She also said she met with a prosecutor and an FBI agent assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
The FBI declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
The judge overseeing the Huddleston case in October ordered the defense to produce documents and an index.
In the new email, the government lawyer said the FBI has made “significant progress” in searching for documents mentioning Rich, but still has much work left, including processing the approximately 50 cross-references, undertaking some level of review of the laptop, and completing all remaining services.
The efforts are hampered by the FBI’s Freedom of Information Act office being at 50 percent of its normal workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government is proposing an amended schedule that would give it three more months to produce the records.
Clevenger, Huddleston’s lawyer, told The Epoch Times via email that his client is hoping to find out why the FBI was involved in the case, and why it originally denied involvement.
“We suspect the FBI may be right that the Metropolitan Police Dept. in D.C. was responsible for investigating Seth’s murder, so that leaves a couple of likely explanations for the FBI’s role: it was investigating a counterintelligence matter or a computer crime. Either scenario would be consistent with Seth transmitting DNC emails to Wikileaks,” he added, referencing a theory about the source of emails from inside the DNC that were later published by Wikileaks.
The theory was the core of a story Fox News published in 2017. It later retracted the report but was sued by Rich’s family.
Fox settled with Rich’s family last month.
A federal judge overseeing the case had earlier this year requested testimony from Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange.
Rich was killed less than two weeks before WikiLeaks “released a collection of thousands of internal emails and documents taken from the DNC servers,” according to a court filing. One month after Rich’s murder, Assange referenced the DNC staffer in an interview with a Dutch television reporter when discussing the dangers faced by WikiLeaks sources. On Aug. 9, 2016, WikiLeaks offered $20,000 for information about Rich’s murder. The website increased the reward to $130,000 in January 2017.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) several weeks after Rich was shot dead offered a reward for information. A spokeswoman told The Epoch Times via email that the case “remains under active investigation.”
The spokeswoman declined to answer whether the FBI assisted police with its probe. “MPD remains the lead investigative agency over this homicide,” she said.
A firm investigating the DNC situation, Crowdstrike, alleged that the committee’s servers were hacked by Russian actors, but a transcript declassified in May showed the firm had no direct evidence of that claim.
Clevenger said he thinks the timing of the email from Parker, the assistant U.S. attorney, is significant.
“Some of my colleagues suspect the Trump Administration has pushed the release, but I doubt that,” he wrote. “With the purported election of Joe Biden, the FBI brass probably think they are in the clear, and nothing will ever happen to them, so they no longer have any reason to hide what they did.”
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.