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Court orders production of Seth Rich laptop
Today, a federal judge ordered the FBI to “produce the information it possesses related to Seth Rich’s laptop.”
This case involves a multi-year fight by attorney Ty Clevenger to obtain records relating to the FBI/DOJ investigation of Seth Rich, particularly whether Rich was involved in the hack of the DNC or had communicated with Wikileaks.
This fight dates back to 2017 and includes two FOIA lawsuit. In the first lawsuit, the FBI produced no responsive documents. The parties knew the FBI had something, and so this sparked a second lawsuit – where the FBI somehow found 20,000 pages of potentially responsive documents. The court explains:
Of those 20,000 pages, the government found 1,596 pages of responsive documents, of which the government withheld 1,469 pages under various FOIA exemptions (privacy, law enforcement exemption, etc.).
The FBI also withheld the contents of Seth Rich’s personal laptop, which it possesses, in its entirety, alleging the privacy of Rich’s family in “preventing the public release of this information” outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
The court rejected that argument, stating “the FBI has not satisfied its burden of showing more than a de minimis privacy interest that would justify withholding information from Seth Rich’s laptop.”
What will the laptop reveal? Time will tell. (Time is especially relevant becausethe DOJ will appeal and drag this out.)
What might be more interesting is the FBI’s complete records on Seth Rich. The FBI has fought production of those records - first by failing to “find” its own documents, and now by alleging documents must be withheld due to “national security grounds” and the “basis that disclosure of the information would threaten intelligence-gathering efforts.”
The information in the FBI’s possession includes that which was “provided by foreign government agency authorities under an implied assurance of confidentiality.” It also may - or may not - include whether the FBI used a “code name” associated with Seth Rich. And, if FBI representations are to be believed, it also includes “details of intelligence activities, sources, and methods related to national security.”
Unfortunately, the court won’t require the production of this information. Some questions will remain unanswered. Read the full order here.